Intro to PPC: A Beginner’s Guide to Pay Per Click Advertising

This is an intro. to PPC (Pay-per-Click Advertising). Have you been trying to move to the top of Google’s first page without any luck? Maybe you don’t have the time, resources, or the talent needed to invest in an in-depth SEO strategy or Pay Per Click Advertising, which can take months of planning to execute well. If you need results quickly, pay per click advertising (referred to as PPC from here on out) offers an alternative method that helps you attract consistent traffic from people who are searching for your product, service, or content.

In this intro to PPC, we have provided a rundown of everything PPC including:

  • What is PPC?
  • How does PPC work?
  • What are the benefits of PPC?
  • Who should use PPC?
  • How can I get started with PPC?

Continue reading to get a full overview of this marketing tactic that will help you grow awareness and increase lead generation with just the click of a button.

What is PPC?

PPC advertising is known by many names: paid search marketing, sponsored advertising, cost per click advertising, remarketing, or search engine marketing. Generally, PPC advertising is a digital marketing tactic in which you advertise within a search engine’s sponsored results by bidding for the keywords connected to your product.

As its name suggests, you pay each time your ad is clicked. Google Adwords is the most popular ad network when it comes to PPC, but there are also other alternatives you can consider that may offer cheaper, and sometimes more effective, options. For a rundown on how Google Adwords works, check out this helpful infographic from Wordstream.

How does PPC Work?

Let’s start with the basics. When you type a search query into Google, the search engines provide two sets of results: organic results and sponsored results. As seen in the picture below, the first few results on the left are sponsored results (indicated by the small green square around the word “Ad,” and the “Sponsored” label. All other page results are organic results or results that have not been paid for.

intro to PPC

Most likely, the organic results made their way to the first page by executing an SEO strategy. On the other hand, the sponsored results made it to the first page by bidding the highest amount on the search terms, which in this case is “ballpoint pens.”

When a searcher clicks on one of the sponsored posts, the advertiser is charged for that click, hence pay per click advertising. The price of a “click” varies depending on the keyword – the popularity of the keyword, specificity of the keyword (long-tail vs. short-tail), and how many other advertisers are bidding on the same keyword as you.

You can use Google’s Traffic Estimator to receive traffic estimates for possible keywords. It will provide metrics like average cost per click, average position, click through rates, clicks per day, impressions per day, and total cost that will help you to determine if a keyword is a right fit for your campaign.

What are the benefits of PPC?

There are a ton of benefits to using PPC ads. We’ve included a list of what we believe to be some of the top reasons for implementing a PPC campaign below.

1. Position on a Page

As we mentioned earlier, PPC ads will allow you to gain a valuable spot at the top of Google’s first page of results without having to dedicate the time and resources needed to implement a full-out SEO strategy. With sponsored advertising, your PPC ad will sit above the fold where it’s more likely to attract a lot of eyeballs, unlike the organic results near the bottom of the page (or on the second page for that matter).

2. Reach the Right Audience

The specificity of keywords in PPC ads allows you to reach the right audience by choosing keywords that your target audience is searching for. Google aims to provide searchers with the most relevant results to their search, so if they are seeing your ad, it is highly likely that they were specifically looking for your product or service.

Not to mention, you can use geo-targeting to limit who can see your ads based on locations. For example, if you are a car mechanic in Colorado, it would be ill-advised to allow searchers in Maine to see your ads. They are too far away to use your services, so it would be a waste of budget to allow them to see/click your ads. Ad scheduling also enables you to choose specific days and times of the day so that you connect with your target audience during your prime business hours or when they are most active online. You also need to consider SEO and target keywords.

3. Budget Control

PPC ads offer you budget control because you set your desired ad spend at the beginning of the advertising process before bidding begins. Unless you go back into the program and change it, this will remain a fixed amount. If your budget runs low, you simply quit paying for the ads and they will be removed from Google’s results page. Furthermore, you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, which means you’re only investing in people who are interested in your product or service.  intro to PPC

4. Speed

A great advantage of PPC advertising is its immediacy. It takes time to create a strong organic presence, but with PPC, once you have created your ads, it’s only a matter of days (sometimes even just hours) before your content is on the first page of Google’s search results page. If increasing awareness is your goal, PPC ads allow you to get in front of your target audience in a much shorter time span than an SEO campaign.

5. Testing

Especially when a campaign is just beginning, PPC ads are an excellent way to test how well your design, copy, or even your call-to-action buttons resonate with your target audience. Using A/B testing, you can split test your ads and the landing pages to see what elements (color, copy, layout) receive the best results (clicks, conversions, etc). You can then use this information to optimize all future ads to ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck with your marketing efforts.

intro to PPC

Image Source: Ecommerce WIKI

6. Tracking

Proving ROI is a major part of being a marketer today. Luckily, PPC ads allow you to track every aspect of your ad campaign to connect your efforts to your results. You can see how each ad or keyword played a role in the success of your campaign, and all of this can be tied back to each penny spent on the campaign. If you want to prove your worth, PPC campaigns will provide the reporting you need to demonstrate the value your campaign brings to your company.

Who should use PPC?

More than six billion online searches are made per day, 77 percent of which are conducted using Google. intro to PPC With that in mind, we believe that companies across most industries can benefit from implementing a PPC campaign.

The key to success is to meticulously plan ahead so that you can minimize your ad spend and maximize your results. It’s important to consider what specific keywords your audience uses, as well as what type of ad will produce the best results for your product or service. As long as you make well-informed decisions from the start, a PPC campaign should help you increase awareness of and traffic to your site.

However, there are some specific industries who have fared especially well with PPC advertising because of the nature of their industry or products. Below is a list of some of the specific types of companies that have experienced great success with PPC campaigns.

1. Companies with long customer lifetimes.

Because PPC ads require constant investment, it’s the best situation when you are able to retain your customers for a long period of time after acquisition. For example, companies with recurring services, like telecom, financial services, utilities, and healthcare, often retain their customers for a long period of time. Customers in these sectors are highly valuable because they will provide predictable revenue over a long period of time. Knowing this, the initial ad spends used to attract these customers is worth the long-term payoff.

2. Companies with high-profit margins.

Companies with high-profit margins make a lot of money off one sale, meaning it doesn’t take long to see the return on their investment to acquire new customers. Examples of companies within this sector include lawyers, airlines, automotive companies, and home appliances. Like companies with high customer lifetime value (the example above), the value of these customers comes from their low acquisition cost; they will likely spend a lot on their initial purchase, making it worth the initial investment in PPC ads.

3. Companies that sell uncommon products.

Have you ever had to shop for an odd product, like a replacement for a soap pump or a replacement clasp for a necklace, and wondered which stores would even carry it? We bet you went to the internet first to research where to find the product before you embarked on a wild goose chase to all the physical stores in a 20-mile radius with the hopes of finding it. Companies who sell these odds-and-ends products benefit from using PPC ads because people who intend to purchase them use the internet to identify where they can find them. PPC ads allow these companies to swoop in during their customers’ moment of need and provide a solution with the click of a button.

4. Local Companies

Research shows that searches with local intent are more likely to lead to store visits and sales within a day, with 18 percent of local searches leading to sales compared to seven percent of non-local searches. To go back to our previous example, if you were to search “car repair,” you may be looking for quick car repair tips you can do yourself, but if you search “car repair Denver Colorado” it’s likely you are searching for an auto mechanic in your area to patronize. This assumption can stretch across multiple searches. If a location is added to the search query, it’s probable the searcher is looking to visit the company in the near future.

Local SEO can be a highly competitive area. It’s wise for local businesses to invest in PPC advertising to ensure their company makes it to the top of the local recommendations and captures the searcher with purchasing intent.

As you can see in the image below, if you search for “car repair Denver Colorado,” the top four results are sponsored ads, which means those auto repair shops had the highest bid on the keyword. In return, it’s likely that the searcher will choose one of them to help solve their car repair issues.

intro to PPC

PPC Campaings

How can I get started with PPC ads?

If you are looking for a simplified answer to how to get started with PPC advertising, it can be summed up in a seemingly easy three-step process:

  1. Choose the keyword you want to advertise for, purchase it, and create an ad to display.
  2. Target audience types in a search query using the keyword you chose. They see your product and click it (hopefully they like it and purchase it).
  3. You are charged for the click. When you want to stop your campaign, simply stop purchasing and your ads will disappear.

intro to PPCUnfortunately, it’s not that easy though because a lot goes on before and after each of the steps listed above. The most successful campaigns are ones that are well-informed and rooted in research, so it’s best to take the time to create a solid strategy before throwing your money at a PPC campaign that isn’t tailored to your audience. Below is a general outline you should follow before embarking on your PPC journey.

1. Conduct a competitor analysis.

  • Identify competitors who are outranking you in your market.
  • Analyze search terms and search volumes within your sector.

2. Create ads based on thorough research.

  • Conduct keyword research to learn how your target audience is searching for your product or service.
  • Develop ad copy that will resonate with your audience.

3. Use A/B testing to compare how different aspects of your ad perform.

  • Track and manage your campaign.
  • Track and monitor metrics like click-through rate cost per click, and conversion rates to determine the success of your campaign.
  • Continually manage keyword bids based on metric results. This step will help to ensure you are getting the most value from your efforts by optimizing your ads based on your target audience’s preferences.

4. Optimize beyond the ad.

  • PPC campaigns are made of many parts that expand beyond keyword bids and the ad displayed on the search results page.
  • To start, it’s important to think about where customers will go once they have clicked on your PPC ad. These people have clicked on your ad because they are looking for something specific – a product, service, or piece of content.
  • To get the most value out of their page visit, visitors should be sent to an optimized landing page or a product page so they can easily find what they are looking for instead of getting lost on your website’s homepage.
  • It’s vital to take the time to consider their entire customer journey to provide them with a seamless experience that will keep them coming back for more.

It’s important to remember that your results with PPC advertising rely heavily on how well you plan and optimize your campaign. If your campaign is improperly set up, your efforts could cost a lot of money with little to no return.

If you’re overwhelmed by the steps needed to ensure success or if you’re lacking on the time, talent, strategy, or tech needed to conduct a well-oiled PPC campaign, consult with an expert or check out our tactical guide below to make sure you’re getting the most value from your PPC advertising initiatives

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