What is Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising?

A term that is mentioned very often in relation to digital marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO) is Pay Per Click (PPC). But what does PPC actually mean?

Well, PPC is a method where an ad is displayed on a website and the advertiser pays the website owner an agreed fee when a visitor clicks on the ad.

What are the benefits to the advertiser?

  • only pay for ads when the potential customer is interested enough to click on them.
  • usually PPC ads are displayed on a website that is relevant to the advertiser’s target market, which means that the advertising is focussed on people who are likely to be interested in whatever the ad is for.
  • usually a pay as you go form of marketing, as you pay only as your ad gets “bites”.

What are the benefits to the website owner?

  • PPC advertising is a great way for a website owner to monetise traffic to their site. Advertisers will place their ads on a site which is busy and attracts their target market.

What types of PPC Advertising are available?

Well, any website can be used to display PPC ads, so this is extremely varied across of spectrum of business models.

At one end of the range is the blogger. Somebody who writes a blog which gains interest and attracts traffic so that the blogger can consider offering PPC ads which are relevant to their readers.

Somewhere in the middle are companies like Amazon, their PPC ads are slightly different as they use cookies to track visitors after they leave the Amazon website. They use the cookies to display ads for the products which the user was viewing on the Amazon site as they continue to browse other websites. This is surprisingly effective, as they are advertising something to you which they know you had been interested in.

And at the other extreme is Google (and to a lesser extent the other search engines). They are in a powerful position when it comes to PPC ads, as their visitors are telling them exactly what they are looking for. They can then use that information to display ads which are relevant to whatever is being search for. That is why PPC ads always appear at the top of a search on Google, that company has paid Google to show their ads on the top of the search results.


Google’s PPC Model

With Google’s model, the ads works on any search term – keyword/key phrase (long term keyword) – that you can think of. The idea is to place your ad for a search where the user would expect to find your site, but to pay Google to push your link to the top of the search results page.

A caveat here is that a large percentage of searchers will not click on links which they know are ads, so generally speaking organic (unpaid) search results are better. However, for things like a new website which has not had time to push to the top of the search results or an event which needs to be promoted quickly a paid ad can be a very successful option.

So for each search term, Google offers the opportunity to advertise. However, some search terms will not appeal to anybody for advertising and others will be extremely popular and therefore competitive. Google operates an auction system, where the advertiser which bids the highest amount for that particular term will be displayed when somebody runs that search. When an advertiser goes to set up an ad, Google will indicate what the expected level of bid is likely to be so that the advertiser can choose their own bid accordingly. As a search term gets more popular, the bids need to be higher in order to ensure that an ad will be displayed.

Bear in mind that the ad will only be charged when somebody clicks on it, so if it is not displayed then nobody will see it or click on it and there will be no charge. The key is to ensure that the ad is worthwhile. There are two parts to this. Firstly, maximise the conversion rate of visitors who click through from a paid ad to actual paid sales. In addition, ensure that the value of the sale covers the cost of the ad(s) which were used to get it – for all of the clicks which led to converting one visitor to a sale. This all makes PPC more appealing than a newspaper ad, for example, where there is a significant cost up front regardless of whether anybody sees your ad or not. To compare, PPC is a bit like a newspaper ad where you only have to pay the newspaper if somebody who sees the ad contacts you.


How to achieve PPC earnings as a website owner

  • Increase traffic to your own website using SEO and PPC if you think you can recover your spend
  • Pinpoint the type of visitor you are attracting to your website
  • Identify another website which converts visitors to profit at a high rate
  • Offer the website owner the opportunity to pay for ads on your website to attract some of your readers to their website as potential customers
  • Agree on a rate, this must be at a level where it is worthwhile for the advertiser

How to use PPC with Google

  • It is absolutely key to find the right search terms for your ad. The search term must be absolutely relevant to your site, but it is better from a cost point of view to go for some less obvious terms as the more popular ones will be highly competitive
  • Think about what part of your website is of most interest to those using that search term. This should be the link for your ad
  • Write the text for your ad so that searchers can see why your site is relevant to them
  • Check your numbers – how many clicks do you need in order to get a sale, how much profit do you get from a sale, how much can you afford to pay for clicks while making sure your sale is still profitable? You can use this to set your budget per click
  • If you don’t think that you can get your ad displayed for the search terms that you had in mind at the budget you have set yourself, use the Google Keywords Planner to think of some alternative.

My Advice?


Use PPC wisely. Concentrate on activity to improve the SEO on your website, organic search results are cheaper (FREE!) and are also more effective as most users ignore the paid ads section in their Google search results. PPC is a good quick fix as SEO can take some time to be effective.

Google Ads should always be used with care. Remember Google is doing it to make money. They will help you, as it is in their interests for your ads to be successful, but their priority is their own profit.


Google Ads PPC

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