New clients will often ask us here at JumpFly which search engine is the best to begin pay-per-click (PPC) advertising on. Clearly, Google is the first obvious choice if you are looking for the greatest volume of traffic. According to the latest numbers from Hitwise, Google received 71.7% of U.S. search queries in October 2008. That’s a huge chunk of online traffic and search volume moving through the Google search box. If you only had one search engine to choose, there is no question that you should choose Google.
Yahoo search volume is dropping consistently, down from nearly 22% in October 2007 to below 18% for October 2008. MSN took a drop from last year as well in their search volume, but it seems to be holding in the mid 5% range from month to month now. So that does beg the question, is it even worth running PPC campaigns on Yahoo and MSN? Clearly, there is some volume to be had on both of those search networks, so they definitely have some value to some advertisers. If your budget is tight, though, and you are testing the PPC waters, I would suggest starting on Google only and then see where you can go from there.
Another strategy to consider for Yahoo and MSN, which we have implemented and seen success with, is to start out strong on Google for a month or two and then only move your best performers over to Yahoo and MSN. Since Google does bring in the most volume by a large margin, their search platform can really give you a good indicator as to whether a certain product, or a certain groups of keywords, or specific ad copy, will bring you the ROI you are looking for. It isn’t always an apples to apples comparison, and what works on Google does not necessarily always work on Yahoo or MSN, but you can certainly get some strong indicators as to what might work on the other engines by analyzing what is working on Google first.