Deciding which search engines to develop paid search campaigns on can be a bit overwhelming. How does a company know when and where to expand their paid search campaigns? Most online marketers realize that Google accounts for at least 49.7% of all US searches, so it makes sense to start their paid search campaigns in Google AdWords. When it comes to expanding beyond Google, this area gets grey quickly.


Questions arise like:

The questions don’t stop. Below are a few recommendations that I offer to get you moving in the right direction:

  1. Get profitable on Google AdWords BEFORE expanding to other search engines. All savvy online marketers realize that the core of online marketing is to test, test, test. Since Google receives 49.7% of all US searches, you can use this traffic flow to get your paid campaigns profitable. Cut out the fat in Google FIRST, and then expand.
  2. Expand based on search engine traffic. According to SearchEngineWatch: comScore reports the US online searches broken down as follows (April 2007): Google 49.7%, Yahoo 26.8%, MSN 10.3%, Ask 5.1% and Time Warner 5%. It makes sense to focus your time and money on the Search Engines that are receiving the most traffic.
  3. Start off by only transferring your top campaigns and keywords into new search engines. Once those are profitable, expand. It is not a good use of time and resources to flush out your entire Google AdWords campaign into MSN, to find out that only 50% of the keywords receive any kind of traffic. With many of my clients, I put only their top AdWords campaign into a new search engine. If the search volumes warrant, I will expand further.
  4. Tag them! If you use Google Analytics (or any web analytics program), make sure you tag these new campaigns. If you are not using Google Analytics, you certainly should! This will allow you to monitor profitability of these new campaigns within Google Analytics. Although time consuming, this is a must! For an in-depth look at link tagging read our blog article “Google Analytics Link Tagging 101” by Michael Harrison.
  5. Do not assume that ads will perform the same across all search engines. Test, test, test. Split test ad copy across all search engines you are running on. Do not assume ads that perform well on Google will be the best performers in YSM and MSN. Since the user base varies greatly between search engines, it is important to test ad variations within each search engine.

Obviously, your paid search strategy will depend on your industry, budget, etc. Search volumes can be significantly lower on these smaller search engines, but many of my clients have received great ROI (and very low bids!).