Rather than just hoping your company's Web address will appear at the top of customers' search-engine listings, spend a few dollars to make sure it happens.
Paid Web listings are fast becoming a key way for businesses—from mom-and-pops to giant online retailers—to connect cheaply with customers. In the past two years, paid-search spending has ballooned from $109 million to $927 million.
How it works: You pay to guarantee a top listing whenever someone types a specific keyword or phrase into a search engine like Google or Yahoo.
Your placement costs range anywhere from 2 cents per click up to $50 per click. You can set a daily cap according to how much you want to pay. Many search engines set prices on keywords through a bidding process.
Those paid listings aren't usually mixed with other results. Under pressure from the government and Web users, most search engines now segregate paid search results under a separate heading such as "Sponsored Links," "Featured Sponsor" or "Sponsored Results."
Some search engines also offer "paid inclusion," meaning they promise to list your site in the main search results (not under "sponsored links") but with no guarantee how high on the list it will appear.
For more advice on search-engine placement, visit www.searchenginewatch.com.