What is PPC (pay-per-click) marketing? Pay-per-click marketing is a way of using search engine advertising to generate clicks to your website, rather than “earning” those clicks organically. You know those sponsored ads you often see at the top of Google’s search results page? That’s pay-per-click advertising (specifically Google Ads PPC, which we’ll talk about below).
Here’s how it works: Every time your ad is clicked, sending a visitor to your website, you pay the search engine a small fee. (That’s why it’s called “pay per click.”) When your PPC campaign is well-designed and running smoothly, that fee will be trivial, because the visit is worth more to your business than what you pay for it. For example, if you pay $10 for a click, but the click results in a $300 sale, then using PPC is a no-brainer.
Ultimately, pay-per-click marketing is good for everyone:
The unique advantage of PPC marketing is that Google (and other ad networks) don’t just reward the highest bidders for that ad space, they reward the highest-quality ads (meaning the ads that are most popular with users). Essentially, Google rewards good performance. The better your ads, the greater your click-through rates and the lower your costs.
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Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords – by far the most popular PPC platform – operates on a pay-per-click model, in which users bid on keywords and pay for each click on their advertisements.
Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of bidding advertisers and chooses a set of winners to appear in the ad space on its search results page. The “winners” are chosen based on a combination of factors, including the quality and relevance of their keywords and ad text, as well as the size of their keyword bids. For example, if WordStream bid on the keyword “PPC software,” our ad might show up in the very top spot on the Google results page.
More specifically, who gets to appear on the page and where is based on an advertiser’s Ad Rank, a metric calculated by multiplying two key factors – CPC Bid (the highest amount an advertiser is willing to spend) and Quality Score (a value that takes into account your click-through rate, relevance, and landing page quality, among other factors). In turn, your Quality Score affects your actual cost per click, or CPC.
This system allows winning advertisers to reach potential customers at a cost that fits their budget.
View the full infographic here.
The good news for advertisers is that in giving the search engines what they want (relevant pay-per-click ads) you’re also delivering targeted advertisements to people who are literally seeking out your product. It’s a win-win.
As we’ve established, PPC advertising offers a unique opportunity to:
The truth is, pay-per-click marketing can work for almost any kind of business, whether you’re looking to sell products through an e-commerce website, generate leads for a service-based or software business, build brand awareness, or even drive foot traffic and phone calls to your local store.
The difficulty is in the execution. In order to get the most out of your pay-per-click marketing campaign, you need to follow a few best practices.
Keyword research for PPC can be time-consuming, but it is also incredibly important.
Your entire PPC campaign is built around keywords, and the most successful Google advertisers continuously grow and refine their PPC keyword list (ideally, using a variety of tools, not just Keyword Planner). If you only do keyword research once, when you create your first campaign, you are probably missing out on hundreds of thousands of valuable, long-tail, low-cost and highly relevant keywords that could be driving traffic to your site.
An effective PPC keyword list should be:
Your pay-per-click keyword strategy should also include regular negative keyword discovery – negative keywords prevent your ads from showing up for searches that are not relevant to your business and are unlikely to convert.
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Once you’ve created your new campaigns, you’ll need to manage them regularly to make sure they continue to be effective. In fact, regular account activity is one of the best predictors of account success.
You should be continuously analyzing the performance of your Google Ads and your account – even just 20 minutes a week can make a big difference – and making the following adjustments to optimize your campaigns:
By continuously optimizing your pay-per-click campaigns, you’ll be able to grow your customer base and increase ROI.
Once you’ve established your Google Ads campaign, you can use WordStream’s Google Ads Grader to check your progress. The Performance Grader is a comprehensive free tool that helps you evaluate how your Google Ads pay-per-click campaigns are performing in key areas such as:
The Google Ads Performance Grader shows you where and how to make improvements to your Google Ads campaign that will improve your performance and save you money. Following PPC best practices has never been easier – it’s fast, secure, and free. Get your free performance report now.