What is PPC advertising?


What is PPC advertising?

November 2018

Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is the search engines’ way of letting you pay to skip the queue. It works like this: your ‘ad’ (this can be a service offering, product listing, video content or mobile app download) appears on the search engines’ network a user clicks on it, you pay them for this and any other subsequent clicks.

Google Ads is the best-known and used PPC network. It’s also highly lucrative. As of June 2018, it accounts for 86% of Google’s total revenue: around $96 billion.

How does PPC work?

Every time a user enters a term into Google, an auction takes place. The best position goes to the highest bidder, with bids being placed on keywords. There are two ways of controlling this spend: manual or automated.

Manual cost-per-click (CPC) involves entering the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a click and Google then charging you no more than this; often, the actual amount is much lower. Recently, Google has pushed users towards automated bidding, which involves you setting a maximum daily spend per campaign, or a target cost-per-acquisition (CPA), and Google then deciding how to give you the best results for your money.

The cost of a click is determined by the popularity of the keyword, how specific it is and how much competition you face. Something as broad as ‘Tennis shoes”’ might cost £1 per click, whereas ‘Nike Court Air Zoom Ultra’ could come in around 25p per click.

Why use PPC advertising?

So, that’s how PPC works, but why is it useful? Here are the reasons why it’s worth coughing up to Google:

  1. First page ranking without SEO

A fully SEO-optimised, high-ranking website takes time, a plan and effort. PPC advertising is a quick way to appear immediately as the first result on Google, which means you can be seen and generate traffic without waiting for your long-term SEO strategy to develop. What’s more, this traffic is of high quality.

  1. High-quality traffic

By only bidding on specific, relevant keywords, you can make sure you only pay for clicks from people with a genuine interest. This approach makes the cost worthwhile and is perfect for jumping ahead of competitors, especially if your market is crowded. You can also tailor your audience by using geo-targeting and scheduling your campaigns to run at certain times of the day. Doing both will also keep the cost down and increase return on investment.

  1. Immediate tracking and testing

Google makes it easy to see if you’re spending your money wisely. It recommends using two to three ads per ad group, although as many as four or five can also work. It’s also best practice to use ten to 20 keywords per ad group. This level of testing means you can quickly see how effective each ad or keyword was in achieving your advertising goal, pausing what’s not working and focusing on what brought results. 

PPC advertising can give you an immediate stream of relevant and interested traffic if done well. It’s up to you how much you spend, and there are various ways you can ensure you only target the right people. SEO optimisation is the long-term goal, but PPC offers the ideal short-term quick fix.

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