Unfortunately, if you’re beginning to learn how to do SEA, I would probably suggest starting out with Google AdWords instead of Yahoo! Search Marketing. While Yahoo! has a slightly larger network with regards to SEM, it’s not an easy user interface. For one, you can’t create the account yourself — you will need to physically call their offices directly and speak with an account executive who will set it up for you. If timeliness is an issue (and you’re in fear of more paperwork), then I suggest Google AdWords. On the other hand, if you want Yahoo! Search Marketing to give you the exact same care an agency would give you if it were handling your account, then I suggest using Yahoo! to manage your SEA program. They will create the copy for the text ads and send them to you for you to review. They will also optimize any other text you may need and monitor it for you. Their interface isn’t the greatest, but I believe that it provides you with the same amount of information as Google AdWords — but may require a little bit of digging to get there.
Another new player into SEM is Microsoft’s Ad Center. This relatively new system is meant to combat the duopoly existing between SEA campaigns and Yahoo! and Google. With a revamping of MSN Search several months ago, it is only likely that with Microsoft’s technological advantage, they may prove a worthy competitor for Yahoo!. Their ability to segment throughout their search engine may also be comparable to that of Google AdWords and their user interface, from what I can gather, will be one of the best to work with. Expect some interesting things from Microsoft when it comes to SEM.
So now that you’re familiar with the different programs and systems out there in the void, the hard part is to figure out what your budget will be and whether you really need it. For most people who decide to have a website created or redesigned for them, there’s a reason — you just don’t redesign a site just because you have money to burn and you want it to look prettier, right? Chances are it’s to show a rebranded company, new product, or it appears out-dated (which is different from making it look prettier, in my opinion). Regardless of whether you’re rebranding your company, introducing a new product, raising awareness of a specific issue, need to drive traffic to your site, or whatever else, there is a strong need to promote your site. Sure you can optimize the site here and there — add some meta tags and meta data on each page, but that won’t really help drive traffic. Blog if you want, but that’s probably not where people will turn. Search engines are the drivers of traffic. How often do you go to a search engine in your daily life? Add a few more to your marketing budget and make sure it’s done properly. SEA is cheap (cost-wise), effective, and efficient. Splashing up a new website alone isn’t going to get you anywhere. Your return customers may know about the site, but will the billions of other Internet users?