PPC Advertising – What Is It and How Can You Use It?

PPC advertising is incredibly popular, so you have probably heard the phrase before. However, lots of people are still unsure exactly what PPC means and even if they do, have no idea how they can use it to help their business.

PPC stands for pay per click i.e. you only pay for an advert if a customer decides to click on it. This is obviously great from an advertising point of view because, if someone clicks on your ad, it means they are actively interested in what you are selling or the information you are providing.

Lots of platforms use the pay per click method, but generally speaking, when someone says PPC, they are usually referring to the ads that appear at the top of search engines like Google. All adverts are marked with “Ad” and appear before the “Organic/Free” search results.

PPC Advert Example on Google

This is what PPC ads look like on Google when you search for the term “PPC Advertising”

How do PPC Ads Work?

For the purposes of this article, I will be focussing on how PPC adverts work on Google. Although there are other search engines, most marketers will focus on Google because; it is the most popular search engine and generally speaking provides better results and data.

When PPC ads appears for a search term in Google, it is basically the result of an auction in which different brands bid different amounts of money on different keywords or phrases.

For example, in the screenshot above, the are 4 ads appearing for the search term PPC advertising. Each of these brands will have selected the keyword phrase “PPC Advertising” and set an amount of money they would be willing to pay for each click.

The content of the ads, the keyword selection and the maximum CPC (cost per click) etc. are all managed through Google’s own platform called Adwords. Adword also gives analytics functionality as well as conversion tracking and much more.

After an ad has been created and keywords selected, your ad will start to appear on Google whenever somebody searched for one of your selected terms.

When somebody searches, Google uses an algorithm to decide in what orders the different ads appear.

This includes:

  • The maximum CPC (cost per click) the brand is willing to pay
  • The quality of the ad
  • The relevance of the ad to the keyword or phrase
  • The relevance of the PPC ad and the page that that ad is linking to

Google uses all of this information to rate each ad and the best overall ad will appear at the top of the search results.

Regardless of the maximum CPC (cost per click) you set, you will only pay £0.01 ($0.01) more than the next highest bid. So your competitor could put a maximum CPC of £0.50 and your maximum could be £1.00, however, you will still only pay £0.51 per click.

Adwords Keyword Match Types

When you are selecting keywords for your AdWords PPC campaigns, there are different types of matches you can select. The type of matches you select helps Google to decide if it should display your ad when a user executes a search.

What are the different Adwords match types?

Adwords Broad Match Type: This is the default match type that Google selects for your PPC ads and it will reach the widest audience. When using broad match, your ad will appear when a user’s search query includes any word in your key phrase in any order e.g. if you choose to broad match the keyword “PPC Adverts” then your ad could be displayed for the search terms “PPC Advertising”, “Adverts” or “Social Adverts”. Your ad might also display for search terms that do not contain your keyword at all if the search contains synonyms.

As broad match is supposed to reach a wide audience, it should be used with caution. There is a lot of potential for users to see your ad and click on it when they are searching for topics that are searching for irrelevant subjects.

Adwords Modified Broad Match Type: Think of this match type as a happy medium between broad match and the more restrictive PPC ad types detailed below. Modified broad match still gives you the ability to reach a wide audience, but it also informs Google on some parameters it should use when deciding to display your ad. This is done by using the “+” symbol. When you add a plus sign before a keyword, you are telling Google that this keyword must be present in the user search query in order to display the ad. For example, if you sell car batteries and use this as a broad match keyword phrase, you could append the “+” to “car” and the user query would have to contain “car”. If you appended it to “batteries” it would have to contain batteries.

Adwords Phrase Match Type: This match type will only trigger an ad if a user queries your keyword phrase using the keywords in exactly the order you have entered them. However, a user can add other keywords at the beginning or the end of the phrase and the ad could still appear.

If your key phrase was “car parts” your ad could be triggered for the phrase “audi car parts” or “car parts discount” but it wouldn’t appear for the term “vehicle parts” or “car discount parts”.

This gives you some of the flexibility or broad match but also offers a greater level of control. This means you still have access to a wider range of traffic but are more likely to get qualified clicks from your ads.

Adwords Exact Match Type: This is the most locked down and restrictive keyword match type. With an exact match type, a user will only see your ad when they use a search query that matches your keyword phrase exactly without any additions or amendments.

So if your keyword phrase is “Black Men’s Shirt” your ad will only appear when a user search “Black Men’s Shirt”. It would have to be those exact words in that exact order. So if a user search for “Men’s Shirt”, “Black Men’s Shirts”, or “Cheap Black Men’s Shirt” your ad wouldn’t appear. The positive side of this is that when a user does see your ad, they are much more likely to be interested in what it is you are advertising. Using exact match can keep your costs down and your conversion rates high, but you are likely to have a lot less traffic as a result and could potentially miss out on other customers.

How to Use Adwords for Your Business

With the information above, you will be able to set up a simple Adwords campaign and have your adverts appearing to potential leads and buyers in a matter of hours. The truth of the matter is (as with all digital marketing tactics) that learning to continuously optimise and improve campaigns is always a bigger learning curve than setting it up.

With some planning and the use of the right tools, you can make this process a little easier.

Adwords will lead you nicely through the set up of your account and first campaign. There are also lots of offers out there for £75 free credit after you have spent your first £25. This gives you the opportunity to test your campaign for very little money and make it better before you start spending serious money.

Below are some other tools you can use to help you in creating a successful Adwords (PPC) campaign.

Google Webmaster Tools: You will need to verify your site with Webmaster Tools first but, once you have, you can start to see what queries people are using to find your site and where you appear organically in results. If you spot a keyword that you think is important and you don’t rank on page one of Google, you should consider using Adwords to supplement your organic ranking.

Set Up Webmaster Tools.

Google Keyword Planner: This will allow you to enter the keywords you want to use and will show you estimated impressions, estimated cost per click and how competitive it is to display ads for your chosen keywords. Before putting your keywords into a campaign, use the Keyword Planner to see how much traffic you could get and what budget you might need to get it.

Use Keyword Planner.

Customer Match: If you have a list of customers or leads, you can use this to target these people with Google ads through Customer Match. Just upload your list of contact and Google will guide you through targeting the people in that list and other people who match your customer profile.

Use Customer Match.

Google Trends: This tool sits slightly outside of AdWords tools, but it can be useful. It allows you to see trends in user behaviour on Google’s search engine. You can look at specific topics or keywords and see their popularity over time which could help to inform your marketing strategy. At a minimum, it’s incredibly interesting to see what subjects are trending and increasing in popularity.

Use Google Trends

Conclusion on Google Adwords and How You Can Use It

There will be a learning curve when you start using new tools and much of it can seem foreign, especially if you don’t have any prior experience with other digital marketing tools. However, PPC advertising using Google Adwords can have an immediate, positive impact on your business when used correctly. You could start seeing new leads or sales almost immediately.

The most exciting thing about this type of marketing is that you are putting your brand, products, and services in front of people who are actively looking for someone just like you. When you set up your campaigns correctly, you can increase revenue and capture new leads by placing yourself in the right place at the right time. Google calls this “Zero Moment of Truth“. All that really means is you are actively visible when people are on their journey to making a purchase decision.

There are obviously many steps in a purchase journey. With large, considered purchases it could be as many as 40 across social media, search, print, word of mouth and outdoor. Being present in all of these places with the right message is important but can be expensive. One thing we can be sure of is that search engines are almost always part of purchase journey.

If you have any questions about PPC advertising, Adwords or any other digital marketing tactics, leave them in the comments below and I will be sure to provide an answer.

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