Whether you’ve heard a little about PPC marketing and are curious to learn more, or you already know that you want to use PPC to market your business, but aren’t sure where to start, you’ve come to the right place! This is the first lesson in PPC University, a set of guided courses that will teach you everything you need to know about PPC to make it work for you.
👩🏾💻 Already doing PPC with Google Ads? >> Find out if you’re doing it right with the free Google Ads Performance Grader.
PPC stands for pay-per-click, a model of digital advertising where the advertiser pays a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Essentially, you’re paying for targeted visits to your website (or landing page or app). When PPC is working correctly, the fee is trivial because the click is worth more than what you pay for it. For example, if you pay $3 for a click, but the click results in a $300 sale, then you’ve made a hefty profit.
PPC ads come in different shapes and sizes (literally), and can be made up of text, images, videos, or a combination. They can appear on search engines, websites, social media platforms, and more.
Search engine advertising (also known as paid search or search engine marketing) is one of the most popular forms of PPC. It allows advertisers to bid for ad placement in a search engine’s sponsored links when someone performs a search related to their business offering. For example, if we bid on the keyword “google ads audit,” our ad for our free Google Ads Performance Grader may appear on the SERP for that or a related search:
More on search ads in a bit.
PPC advertising looks different from platform to platform, but in general, the process is as follows:
An example of the budget step looks like in Google Ads.
Once the ad goes live, where and when your ad appears, and how much you pay for a click on it are all determined algorithmically based on your budget, bid, campaign settings, and the quality and relevance of your ad.
Since all platforms that offer PPC advertising want to keep their users satisfied, they reward advertisers who create relevant, trustworthy pay-per-click campaigns with higher ad positioning and lower costs.
So if you want to maximize your profits from PPC, you need to learn how to do it right.
📙 Free guide >> PPC 101: The Beginner’s Guide to PPC
Google Ads is the single most popular PPC advertising system in the world. The Google Ads platform enables businesses to create ads that appear on Google’s search engine and other Google properties.
Every time a search is initiated, Google digs into the pool of ads and chooses a set of winners to appear on that search engine results page.
The “winners” are chosen based on a combination of factors, including the quality and relevance of their keywords and ad campaigns, as well as the size of their keyword bids. We’ll explain that in the next section.
When advertisers create an ad, they choose a set of keywords to target with that ad and place a bid on each keyword. So if you bid on the keyword “pet adoption,” you are telling Google you want your ad to appear for searches that match or are related to pet adoption (more on keyword match types here).
Google uses a set of formulas and an auction-style process to decide which ads get to appear for any one search. If your ad is entered into the auction, it will first give you a Quality Score from one to 10 based on your ad’s relevance to the keyword, your expected click-through rate, and landing page quality.
It will then multiply your Quality Score by your maximum bid (the most you’re willing to pay for a click on that ad) to determine your Ad Rank. The ads with the highest Ad Rank scores are the ones that show.
This system allows winning advertisers to reach potential customers at a cost that fits their budget. It’s essentially a kind of auction. The below infographic illustrates how the Google Ads auction works.
Learn more in our post on How Does Google Ads Work?
Conducting PPC marketing through Google Ads is particularly valuable because, as the most popular search engine, Google gets massive amounts of traffic and therefore delivers the most impressions and clicks to your ads. How often your PPC ads appear depends on which keywords and match types you select. While a number of factors determine how successful your PPC advertising campaign will be, you can achieve a lot by doing the following:
Keyword research for PPC can be incredibly time-consuming, but it is also incredibly important. Your entire PPC campaign is built around keywords, and the most successful Google Ads advertisers continuously grow and refine their PPC keyword list. 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.
You can check our full guide to keyword research here, but in short, an effective PPC keyword list should be:
If you want to find high-volume, industry-specific keywords to use in your PPC campaigns, be sure to check out our Free Keyword Tool.
Use our Free Keyword Tool to find keywords for your PPC campaigns.
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 account and making the following adjustments to optimize your campaigns:
Ready to get started with PPC? Learn how to set up a Google Ads account here.
If you’ve already got a Google Ads account, we suggest you use our Free Google Ads Performance Grader to help you zero in on areas of improvement. In 60 seconds or less, you’ll receive a customized report grading your account performance in 9 key areas, including click-through rate, Quality Score and account activity.
And if you’d like help running your PPC ads, check out our digital marketing solutions.