Top 5 Pay Per Click Search Engines

In October 2003, Google acquired the Sprinks pay per click search engine, which powered As a result, Sprinks was put into retirement and's text links are now powered by Google AdWords.

Initially pay per click search engines started life as individual search engines. Soon they began expanding their reach by paying websites for referring search traffic, but the growth was slow and somewhat limited.

They quickly realized that to reach critical mass, they needed to harvest the huge volumes of traffic that the most popular sites attracted; namely search engines, web directories and web portals. They achieved this through revenue sharing listing partnerships.

Pay Per Click search engines offer a number of features that standard search engines do not offer:

  • Guaranteed top positions - typically before the main search results - in major search engines, web portals and metacrawlers.
  • Keyword targeted listings - your listings will only appear in search results for keyword phrases you have selected. This allows you to extend or narrow your targeted audience as you see fit.
  • Pay only for click throughs - you only pay for visitors - not impressions - who come to your site by clicking on your ad.
  • Cost control - you determine how much you want to bid for each keyword phrase. Typically the higher you bid, the higher your listing appears in the search results. This allows for better tracking of your advertising costs and return on investment.

The top 5 pay per click search engines are:

  1. Overture
  2. Google AdWords
  3. FindWhat
  4. Espotting
  5. Enhance Interactive (Formerly Ah-Ha)

Let's take a look at each on in more detail.


Overture is the leading pay per click search engine delivering 2.2 billion click throughs in 2002. Overture supplies results to many of the top search engines and web directories, including Yahoo!, MSN, AllTheWeb, AltaVista, Lycos, and InfoSpace.

Overture has existing marketplaces in the Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the US.

Overture can deliver a high volume of visitors, so be careful of bidding too much for a visitor. I have seen people spend thousands of dollars in a few days, without getting much in return. It is a painful lesson to learn.

Overture Information

Websites (Countries) Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and the US.
Language Support English, French, German, Japanese and Korean.
Search Terms Represented 4.4 million
Unique Visitors (Monthly) 11.2 million
Audience Reach More than 80% of active U.S. Internet users.
Searches (Daily) 167 million+ (02/03)
Search Engine Partner (Powered By) Yahoo!
Supplies Results For AllTheWeb, AltaVista, AOL Europe, InfoSpace, Lycos, MSN, Yahoo! and thousands of affiliate sites.
Number of Advertisers 100,000+ (Q1 2004)
Total Bidded Search Listings 7.4 million
Number of Click Throughs 646 million (Q2 2003)
Average Price Per Click $0.40 (Q2 2003)
Account Set Up Service Self Serve - No Service Fee
* Editorial review within 5 days
Fast Track - $199 Service Fee
* 3 business day turnaround.
* Expert Assistance with search term selection, titles, descriptions, budget management, and tracking URLs.
* Customized proposal.
Minimum Account Opening Budget $50
Minimum Monthly Spend $20
Minimum Bid Per Click $0.10
Time For Listings to Become Active 3-5 Business days
Maximum Keyword Phrases Allowed 25,000
Keyword Pluralization? Yes
Maximum Title Length 40 Characters
Maximum Description Length 190 Characters
Optimizes Bids? ($0.01 More Than Next Ranked Listing) Yes - automatic.
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