Want your PPC search campaigns to kick your competitors out of the running? Your PPC ads should strive to be as relevant as, if not more so than, their ads are, and you should endeavor to make your ads more relevant than the organic/algorithmic results in every engine. This important point was made clear in a recent high-level meeting with Microsoft; MSN is taking its underdog position quite seriously.

Sometimes, brainstorming and debating search's future with smart people can be a great catalyst for reminding us of things we know but probably haven't thought of lately. At the Microsoft/MSN Strategic Account Summit, I had an opportunity to chat with Christopher Payne, a leader in search user experience, about the market's current state and searchers' behavior and relevance expectations. I postulated that over time, paid search results should and would become more relevant than organic results for search queries that have commercial intent or relate to researching a purchase. Payne countered that currently there's often a huge gulf in relevance between paid and organic listings.

Then it hit me. There's no reason organic search should be more relevant than paid search. Quite the contrary. SEO (define) spammers don't care if they manage to get a high position for keywords and keywords phrases that are less than perfectly relevant, because a high SEO position delivers clicks for free, be they perfectly targeted or only marginally relevant. PPC search marketers, however, have no such luxury. They pay for every click, and any click with a poor chance of converting due to poor relevance has an ever-increasing cost.

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