20 Feb 2017

What Is PPC? An Introduction For Business Owners

TL;DR PPC stands for 'pay per click' and is a digital advertising model that charges your business for each click your advert receives on Google or Bing. A click will take the user straight to your website. Essentially you are paying to get people to visit your website and can choose which keywords (also known as search terms) you wish to target. The cost for advertising under different keywords can differ greatly based on the nature of your business.

The two major platforms that offer PPC advertising are Google AdWords and Bing Ads. When a user carries out a search on either Bing or Google your business can opt in to show a small text advert to potential prospects based on keywords. By choosing which keywords to target you can increase the visibility and exposure of your website.

The final step is to secure all important sales, enquiries, emails and phone calls to help you grow your business. If you have a well-optimised website that is easy for visitors to navigate you shouldn't have much trouble generating new business through PPC.

A well optimised PPC campaign requires extensive optimisation and solid structuring to ensure you see good returns from your investment. One of the most attractive features of PPC is that you can see results instantly, whereas SEO requires a huge time investment before you can begin to see ranking changes and traffic.

PPC offers greater flexibility when advertising online and can be customised to produce unique online experiences for new and returning customers. Pay per click advertising gives your business the ability to:

  • Target and bid on keywords that bring commercial value to your business
  • Show text adverts to users based on their physical location (also called geo-targeting)
  • Create adverts which showcase the strengths of your business and help resolve customer frustrations
  • Gives you full control over your monthly advertising spend
  • See substantial growth the same month you launch a campaign

Below is how PPC looks on Google's search results page:

The search engine results page on Google showcasing what PPC text ads look like. Note the small green box and text reading 'ad'. This is used to differentiate organic and paid search.

Google is constantly adding new features to AdWords which allows for higher levels of campaign customisation and greater returns.

Below is how PPC looks on Bing's search results page:

Bing search results page showing PPC ads both vertically and on the right hand side. Each paid advert has small grey text reading 'ad' next to it. The most noticeable thing with PPC results is that they appear well above organic search results which is why PPC is a preferred advertising method.

PPC text adverts are placed higher than organic search results which mean potential customers will see your adverts first. People are lazy when they use search engines and won't scroll down unless they cannot find what they are searching for! A well-optmised text ad that includes unique selling points, location details, a contact telephone number and well thought out ad copy can remove the users need to scroll down and look elsewhere. If they click your advert, you will be charged a fee for each unique click. As mentioned before: the cost of each click will vary depending on your industry.

In the two images above I carried out a Google search for 'builders in London' and you can see the results in the images. If you have a look at the images you will find that certain ads will draw your attention more than others will. And more often than not these ads are not in the top position on the page.

This brings me to my final point on the matter: being first in PPC does, and will not, guarantee your success. I manage PPC campaigns where I have text ads in lower positions that outperform those that hold the top two spots in Google or Bing. This often results in lower CPL and higher ad CTR (click through rate).

A lot of PPC cowboys will tell you that being first is the best thing your business can do when it comes to AdWords, but this is not always the case. Holding the top spot means that you will spend greater portions of your budget each month just for being first, and this doesn't always produce the best results. Bidding for first place in Google and Bing can lead to wasted advertising budget or using your monthly budget up too quickly.

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