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What Is PPC? Learn the Basics of Pay-Per-Click

You might have heard the marketing buzzwords PPC (Pay-per-click) and paid search marketing. Before you let the terms throw you into a headspin, know that it's just another tool at your disposal to get your product or services in front of your ideal consumers. PPC and paid search strategies can complement the organic strategy you might already have in place. So let's jump in and see what this model is all about.

Basics of Pay-Per-Click

What is PPC?

Remember the days before streaming platforms when it was arguably ''cool'' to have PPV on your TV, otherwise known as pay-per-view? You'dYou'd pay a small fee and get access to the movie. Well, PPC (Pay-per-click) is similar. You pay to receive something, but instead of a film, it's clicking. The advertiser places your ad on a platform and pays each time someone clicks on it. So, instead of waiting patiently (or impatiently) to get consumers to visit your site organically, you buy those visits and bring your site to your targeted audience.

Understanding paid search

Paid search is a form of PPC in which advertisers place bids for those coveted advertisements spots you see on search engines. Woah, what? So let's hypothetically say a consumer searches for "glass make-up vanities" into their search bar, and your company happens to sell glass make-up vanities.

As an advertiser, research and decide which keywords you want to bid on and the maximum you are willing to spend (we'll focus on keywords in the next section).

If you are competing against another company, the search engine (for example, Google) will analyze to see which bid gets to place their ad, like an auction. In our hypothetical example, Google would look at how much you're willing to bid and inspect the quality of your ad (landing page, relevance, etc.) to determine who wins the auction and gets their ad placed in one of those coveted top-of-the-page engine ad spots.

What are keywords?

Advertisers rely on keywords derived from a consumer query.

  • Query: This is simply what a consumer type into the search bar. Ex: ''glass make-up vanity in Los Angeles."
  • Keywords: These are the words that you use to target your consumer. These hold the key for where your ads should be displayed. If a consumer searches for something in their browser, your keywords could allow your ad to show based on how similar your keywords are to what the consumer searched.

The beauty of keywords lies in the power you hold to be as specific or as broad as you want. Along with the option to select negative keywords, which remove potential traffic that is not tailored to your advertisement, you can match your keywords to a query precisely or allow room for variation and misspellings. A search for "Where can I find LA big glass make up vanity is very different than a search for ''glass make-up vanities in Los Angeles," but you can choose keywords that account for these potential discrepancies, including misspellings, the inclusion of other words, rearranging of words, etc.

Creating paid search ads

You've established which keywords are essential for your advertising approach, but now you need to create the ads that will be showcased to consumers if your bid is chosen. It's critical to winning the bid, but your ad should also make a great first impression and be clicked on. After all, the point of a paid search approach is arguably to drive more consumers to your site or product.

A typical ad will contain a headline, a few lines describing your product or service, and a URL. Keep in mind that certain variations might do better than others, so feel free to do a trial test of a few and see which pulls in higher engagement. Another pointer we can't forget when it comes to creating paid search ads is the invaluable tools that search engines offer for your ad campaigns. Google and Microsoft Ads, for example, both provide ad extensions (helps brush up your ad's appearance) and call extensions (embed a contact button or redirect to your site) all within your ad, making them assets to have at your disposal.

How setting a PPC budget works

Good news and bad news. Bad news: nothing comes free. But that's why it's called a pay-per-click or a paid search. The good news is that you can create a budget so that your expenses don't exceed what you can afford or are willing to spend.

It's worth noting that you have the option of implementing automated bidding strategies. Simply put, these give you the leeway to choose what goals you would like to meet and have the system then decide what amount you should bid in each keyword auction.

Whereas a bid is how much you're willing to spend on a keyword, a budget is how much you're ready to spend on the campaign level. When you create a budget, keep in mind that this amount should be exceeded at the end of the month and cover your overall strategy.

How to set targeting for your PPC ads

You want to ultimately generate results and drive traffic to your product or business. This is why it is crucial to target who your ideal consumer is. If an advertisement pulls in irrelevant traffic, your ad is not working for you the way that it should. Consider targeting via device, location, day and time, or even demographic.

Utilizing these targeting methods will allow you to pull in traffic with needs you can meet. Going back to our earlier example of ''glass make-up vanity in Los Angeles, you would maybe try to target people within a 100-mile radius of Los Angeles, who are on their phones in the morning.

Bottom line

Pay-per-click and Paid Search is just another method of marketing. To reiterate, PPC requires a payment to the advertising platform for every click your ad generates, and a paid search is a bid on keywords (based on consumer queries) to display your ad in search engine results.

When it comes to utilizing this method of marketing, keep in mind that ads must be created. You have the option of using the tools provided by the search engine, which grant you access to tools such as ad extension or call extension. And while different variations in your description and headline might pull in more traffic than others, don't forget to consider targeting so that you can draw in the right consumer to your advertisement.