on Thursday, 16 February 2012. Posted in How To

Sponsored links vs. SEO

What is pay-per-click?

Pay-per-click is a method of advertising certain links that the client pays a certain amount to the advertiser for each click they receive on their link.  This is only one method of charging for sponsored links.  Different search engines may provide pay-per-click campaigns to highlight your website at the top of search results so that whenever a user clicks the link to your site, the search engine will bill you the predetermined cost for that click.

What are sponsored links?

If you do a search in Google, Yahoo, or Bing, you will most likely see that the first few search results are highlighted.  Also, there are search results that may appear outside the normal results list on the right hand side.  These search results are sponsored links, paid for by the owner of those websites to Google, Yahoo, or Bing.  They’re completely separate from normal, organic SEO results which aren’t paid for and can guarantee above-the-fold visibility because they are paid to appear at the top of the search results regardless of how actually popular the sites they point to really are.  There are several means of charging for sponsored links, pay-per-click is only one.


How are sponsored links and the rest of the search results related?

Both sponsored links and the other links that appear in your search results are generated based off what keywords you’ve searched for.  For example, if you searched in google for “Philadelphia lawyer” you would find several law firms in the Philadelphia area in your normal search results.  You’ll also find links for Philadelphia law firms in the sponsored links areas.  Both are showing based off what you searched for.  However, the links in the sponsored links section are only showing because they were paid to be there, not because they’re any more relevant (or any better sites) than the other search results.

The other search results appear entirely based off Google, Yahoo or Bing’s determination of which site best matches the search results.  Being at the top of the non-sponsored link is the challenge of all SEO providers.  The rankings for each of these pages are determined by several factors including: how relevant the page’s text is to the keywords, how often is the page update, what kind of site is it (.gov, .edu, .com, etc.).

In terms of SEO, sponsored links have absolutely no relation to non-sponsored links.  However, SEO providers will often provide them both as guarantees your site will be at the top of search engine (even if it’s only up there because the client is paying extra for it to be at the top, not because it’s legitimately at the top based on organic SEO).

What are the main sponsored link providers?

There are three main sponsored link providers: Google, Yahoo and Microsoft (Bing).  Each of these charge and display ads in different ways, however their model for advertising is basically the same—the client pays the ad service of that company to have their website appear in search results when the user types in certain keywords.  In order to do that, you need to create an account with the company, set your budget, define which keywords you want your ad to appear in the search results for, and other similar options.

Google Adwords

Google is by far the largest search engine provider with the broadest amount of use.  Google’s method of managing sponsored links is through their advertising program called Google Adwords.  Here is an easy video explaining how adwords works:

And here is an overview of how adwords charged:

Yahoo Marketing Solutions (Yahoo only)

Yahoo’s Marketing Solutions is Yahoo’s equivalent to Google Adwords.  Here is an overview of how Yahoo Marketing Solutions works:;_ylt=As5RpX_l9M_UgRdRpUTfPM44iyl4#think_about

Microsoft AdCenter (includes Yahoo searches too)

Microsoft AdCenter is Microsoft’s equivalent to the other company’s ad vendors.  Microsoft, however, has paired with Yahoo so that you don’t have to recreate an account in Yahoo’s Marketing Solutions if you want to advertise the same way across Yahoo and Bing.  Although Yahoo has their own Advertising system, Microsoft AdCenter includes it in there’s as well and will show your sponsored links in Bing and Yahoo.  To get an overview of Microsoft AdCenter, please visit:

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