Insurance companies have been battling for high rankings on the search engines for years. Now, making an end-run around the search engine wars by simply paying for placement.With these firms, the game is no longer who is best at coding search-engine friendly pages. Instead, it's who is willing to bid the most for the most popular keywords used by people searching for insurance on the Web.

Under the Google AdWords ( program, for example, an insurance firm can open a paid search account and begin bidding for the ownership of keywords in a matter of minutes. The reward: Win the bidding war on a keyword of your choice, and your firm's link will be sent to the top of Google's sponsored links.

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