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I've never done goto, but wouldn't mind trying it out. I've got a bunch of 2 and 3 word phrases on several sites that have a decent number of searches on them - some hovering around 100, some well over. Also, these have no bids on them, so a probably a penny would do something.
Question is, I've read here that goto is using some sort of mixing, matching and shuffling, so they end up endowing you with search terms you didn't ask for that are more expensive that what you bid for - which has me a little nervous. The main categorical keywords for the sites are not cheap.
How much can it get with penny bids? As a guesstimate, say without them adding anything (just for starters) a term has 100 searches shown. Multiplied by partner distribution, with this number in a month, how much could it end up costing - just as a starting point?
We bid on 1c terms mainly, but sometimes up to 3c. We are a regionally focused site. The generic terms are quite expensive but the regional variant are very cheap or nonexistant.. eg: Blah $1.00 Blah Thailand $1c
We have around 50 terms.
The only one affected so far has been a bid for "blah AND blah2" which was merged with "blah blah2".
Guarding against depeleting accounts fast is very important to us. For safety we only keep $20 in the account at a time, and secondly we makeour description very commercial (ie "Our rate sheet, and contract details on ....")
We try to make the description very boring to those tempted just to browse, but very interesting for those likely to spend money!
We "tend to feel" that being on the top 2 to 3 or even 10 for certain terms also has a good effect on other search engine results, over and above partners. Maybe other Search engines spider GoTo???, or people building directories scan them?
Certainly the keywords we bid on are turning up much more often in the keywords used to find us in logs... and we have very few goto or goto partner clicks ($20 gets us a month or more) and no real evidence, but we have a feeling this might be due to our url's being high on GoTo for specific terms.
The suggestion tool is a very vague gauge. I have bid (only bid, 1st for .01) for many terms that have supposedly been searched on more than 100 times/month. A few draw like you would expect, but many rarely send referrals.
In my experience, it takes at least a bid or two in the top 3 for terms that are searched thousands of times monthly to draw more than $1-2 per day with these bid amounts. You can login to your account and check your taffic daily, and drop terms if they end up producing more than you want.
Ditto on chiyo's point of working the description. Tell the visitor as much as you can about what you're all about, while still remaining concise. The more accurate, the more targetted the visitor, and fewer clicks by uninterested visitors.
You can also write a bad description and use the domain in the description and title for branding. This doesn't do a lot on a small scale, but will lower clicks.
I have also found some 4 word phrases that produce well. The best part is the more keywords the surfer uses, the more targetted/likely to convert they are. Less quantity, more quality, traffic.
Being in the top 3 is best, top five is good, and top 10 is ok as far as getting additional partner traffic.
Knowing that two, three and even four keyword phrases would draw highly targeted traffic, while being the cheapest to bid on, I bid on several hundred keywords, with bids in the range of one to three cents.
A number of the bids were rejected as not being relevant. I felt they were relavent and sent e-mail appealing their rejection but to no avail. I still feel their rejection was rather arbitrary.
So the rejected keywords represented several hours of lost time from digging up the keywords and writing my appeal.
From several hundred phrases that were accepted, I wound up getting only ten or twenty visits a day. So the whole program was hardly worth the effort.
One day, I changed the focus of my website and no longer wanted traffic on many of the active keywords. I sent a spreadsheet list trying to remove most of my keywords, so I could start fresh. The keywords were never removed and continued to draw down my account, until it ran out of funds and all my positions were lost.
I sent e-mails trying to get this rectified but they were ignored.
So I say, with GoTo it's "buyer beware" and in my experience the penny keywords are not worth all the time, frustration and maitenance trying to get them to work.
In my experience, a single good content-laden gateway page on a major search engine draws the same amount of traffic as hundreds of penny keywords at GoTo, takes a lot less time and effort if you know what you're doing, and is free.
So that's my experience. Put it in the bag with the experiences of others to make your decisions.
Don't know if it helps or not, but I usually find some terms that have been searched 100-200 times that have no bids. They may be interested in making $$ off terms that have NO bids when figuring relevancy.
They had a study conducted last year which "proved" they were the most relevant engine. IMHO, they took that study to AOL and cut a deal. If I were AOL, I'd have a clause in the contract that asked GoTo for a new study from time to time.
So if you "have the time" you can make GoTo doorways for keyword phases that ARE relevant to your site but that do not appear as such on your core site.
The key to me having happy clients! You can find out what people really search for in a particular area and optimise for the client accordingly. It works very well.
We note what search words get the best response/conversion and then write copy and headlines that use those words.
But there is an even bigger help. We avoid using the low responding words that seemed to be a good idea, but don't work out.
GoTo is like having a laboratory to work on all kinds of promotional effectiveness.
I found that the .01 & .02 terms were not getting used enough to translate into sales.
One test that i was working on was to dump a large amount of $$ into GoTo and track the user from start to finish (completed sale) the results were poor less than 1% actually bought anything from the site. So we decided on another method.
Place a specific amount in the account and bid #1 on some costly (but relevant) terms up to $4.25 per click. We did generate tons of visits to the site in the first week. On the page they were sent to we pushed the "buy now" and got a better response of sales. (Like 4-5%)
I guess you can call this the hit and run method, The users hit the site until we run out of $$.
It works well for this client because of the niche market but for others i don't push the issue of GoTo without explaining how I've seen it relate to others.
FindWhat.com had the same terms for less $ ($0.17 for the same term) and drive about the same sales % over the course of a month. I have found them to be VERY cost effective.
Just .0002 ;)