Pay-per-click (PPC) is a way advertisers can present their ads prominently on Internet searches, yet only pay when the ad is actually clicked on.

It can be a good method for targeted marketing, particularly by small businesses unable to compel organic visits to their website or for those whose marketing budgets aren’t large enough for regular online ads.

Google Ads: The King of PPC

Previously referred to as Google AdWords, Google Ads pioneered and perfected the PPC method. Here’s how it works:

  1. You, the business, selects keywords likely to appear in search engine inquiries.
  2. You set an ad budget. This is important because it helps determine how successful your campaign is.
  3. When someone enters your keyword(s) into a search engine query, Google determines which advertiser is most appropriate and whose advertising budget best allows ad display. This is called the “auction,” and it happens quickly and automatically.

The auction takes place so fast, Internet users don’t usually see a slowdown to their search results. In fact, billions of auctions happen monthly, WordStream says.

The Result: Prominent Ads

Most people give greater weight to Google search engine results that appear at the top of the page. There’s a good reason – the results at the top are typically the best results based on keywords, location and website credibility.

But the very top of the page is reserved for Google Ads. They look similar to other results except for the small “Ad” icon next to them. It’s how you can pay your way to the top of search results.

Google Ad Alternatives

Although Google certainly wins for sheer revenue and PPC ad volume, it isn’t the only game in town. Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon and other sites offer PPC, Hanapin Marketing says. Explore these options if your audience visits them or if you didn’t like Google Ads’ results.

PPC Pros and Cons

PPC is a popular method of targeted advertising, but a click doesn’t guarantee a conversion. Here are some PPC pros and cons:

PPC Pros

  • PPC is targeted – it’s geographically specific in most cases and only appears when relevant keywords are searched.
  • The ad doesn’t cost you anything until it’s clicked on.
  • You set your own budget. PPC campaigns are typically inexpensive compared to banner ads or pop-ups.

PPC Cons

  • Internet users get more savvy and avoid Internet search results marked as ads.
  • Your budgeted amount can go quickly, especially if you select highly popular keywords.
  • There’s no guarantee your ad will appear, especially in a competitive market.

Keyword Selection

You can’t discuss PPC without mentioning the importance of appropriate keywords. Internet users make keywords the basis for their searches. You should use whatever words logically lead them to what you actually offer on your website.

For example, if you detail cars, you won’t want every keyword that pertains to just vehicles. Why? If someone who needs windshield repair clicks on your ad, it won’t result in a new detailing customer, but it will reduce your ad budget.

That’s why keywords must be targeted in a successful PPC campaign. Some content marketers suggest you select keywords by simply trying them out on search engines. But it’s more complicated than that. Tools exist online to give fairly accurate keyword feedback. Don’t get caught up on which keywords are most popular. Instead, focus on:

  • What keywords best pertain to your business?
  • Of those keywords, which are most popular?

If you stuff your campaign with irrelevant keywords, they’ll create an unsuccessful marketing campaign.

PPC: Ever-Evolving

Like most things pioneered by Google, PPC changes and evolves without much notice. For that reason, carefully monitor your PPC campaigns to see what works and what doesn’t.

Pioneer Media can help create and monitor your PPC campaign to draw more potential customers to your website. Contact us for more information.