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Existing search engine traffic is fine, but it may not be all that targeted. What's more, you don't always have time to optimize your site for all engines, and some search engine tactics may actually backfire (get you blacklisted). To save time, you will want to consider buying some traffic.
Some users of pay-for-placement search engines are turned off by experience. This may be because they're deploying strategy too tentatively. If you want to get to a certain level, why not just get there this month, instead of taking baby steps? I know people who are bidding on 3 or 4 keywords at Goto.com. I know others - not tycoons, just energetic folks with a few extra bucks a month to spare - who are bidding on 300-400 keyword combinations. Guess who is really noticing impact of this strategy?
There are many smaller pay-for-placement engines, and outside of Findwhat.com, they aren't worth effort for trickle of traffic they'll bring you. You should also consider sponsored links initiative ("Sprinks") at About.com, which allows you to bid for link placement on a topical About.com "guide site."
At Goto.com, since you only pay for clickthroughs, risk is minimal provided you can deliver something of interest once visitor arrives at your site. While I'm not going to give you step-by-step here, there is a way to build that list of keywords (and daily targeted clickthroughs) up to an impressive level, while slowly whittling down average cost per click to a manageable five or six cents. At those rates, your banner revenues alone will probably offset money you spend on this advertising.
If you're bent on faster results, and willing to pay 15-20 cents per click, though, by all means up your bids to ensure that you're in top three, or even #1 spot for a given keyword. The reason your traffic will increase dramatically if you do this is because you'll also be showing up in meta-search engines like Mamma, Ixquick, profusion, c4, Dogpile, and Metacrawler.
Because these avenues are going to be a bit different from other pathways web surfers take to find you through search engines, for first few months you will be getting a lot of incremental traffic. That is to say, new, highly targeted customers.
You may not be AOL, or even a well-funded startup. But you CAN find $50 a month, and on Goto.com, $50 can go a long way. Go ahead, give this a try and see if you don't achieve your goals more quickly.
Andrew Goodman is Editor of Traffick, The Guide to Portals. Check out the Traffick Newsletters: http://www.traffick.com/newsletters.asp. They're triple-filtered for smoothness and enjoyed by thousands of business and Internet professionals worldwide.