Pay Per Click Advertising 101

PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising refers to online paid ads that generate clicks to a website rather than through freeorganic search. Each time an ad is clicked, the advertiser pays the publisher (the platform hosting the ad) a set amount. If you’re looking to get more clicks on your affiliate links or drive traffic towards your content, a PPC campaign is an easy and reliable way to achieve it.

This article covers the ins and outs of PPC, including tips on strategy and budgeting. We’ll tackle how to set up your paid ad campaigns the right way, and talk about using best practices to ensure they’re successful.


What is PPC advertising?

PPC advertising is an excellent way of boosting visibility for websites that may not have worked their SEO magic yet for the same keywords and phrases. Most typically, PPC ads appear when people type relevant keywords and phrases in a search toolbar, be it a search engine or social media platform.

Clicks are straightforward to track, and you only pay for traffic directed to your site. You don’t pay if nobody sees your ad, and sometimes you don’t even pay if someone does see it but doesn’t click. With the most popular PPC pricing model, cost per click (CPC), you pay only when someone clicks your ad. Marketers often talk about ‘buying clicks’ because that’s just what PPC is all about. You’re paying a PPC advertising company, be it Facebook, Google, or Bing each time someone clicks a link pointing to your landing page.

Marketers often deploy PPC ads to appear at the top of search engine results pages, as well as targeting people on social platforms. On Google’s search results page, PPC ads are at the top, marked with a yellow label. They are the ‘sponsored’ posts on your Facebook feed and the results marked ‘Ad’ on Bing.

The idea is that people searching for keywords related to your product or service will find your ad, click through to your website/landing page and complete the action the page is promoting. Clicks on social media platforms are encouraged by visually engaging ads targeted to the intended visitor.

On the other hand, with search engines, PPC ads barely stand out because they don’t want to give the impression that they are spamming users. Here are some examples of PPC ads targeting the keywords “wireless headphone reviews.” There is not much difference between the paid ads at the top of the page and the results from the organic listings below.


Types of PPC ads

There are a whole host of options when it comes to PPC advertising. The following are the most common types:

Paid search marketing

Paid search marketing is the PPC model where companies buy ads on search engines. Ads are listed in the sponsored listing section of the search engine, or on a partner site. Most often, advertisers pay each time people click on their ad. Paying when an ad is displayed is another, less common option. These ads generally contain specific, targeted keywords and direct users to a landing page.

Display advertising

With display advertising, ads come in a variety of mediums. Unlike your typical paid search, banner ads rely on visual elements such as images, animations, video and audio to communicate goals and drive clicks. Display ads generally return a lower click-through rate (CTR) than search ads, but they can be a useful tool for companies looking to build brand awareness.

Social media advertising

Given the volume of people using social media platforms, sites like Facebook and Instagram are full of potential customers. With ads on these platforms, you can often target specific demographics with specific interests. This will help increase awareness of your products and services, bringing them to the attention of people most likely to be interested in them, helping you achieve a higher CTR as a result.

Retargeting PPC advertising

Retargeting, also known as remarketing, uses cookies to show people specific ads based on their online activities. You can drop an anonymous browser cookie when a visitor comes to your site, then when this visitor moves on to another site, the cookie will display your ads. Retargeting isn’t only for banner ads; it is also used for social media campaigns and other forms of digital marketing, like email.

How much do PPC ads cost?

When it comes to creating ads on these platforms, the two main pricing models are: CPC and cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM.) In the latter’s case, an “impression” refers to each time your ad displays on someone’s screen. Therefore, you pay a set fee per 1,000 potential impressions.

Both modes are effective in getting ads out to a mass audience. Whether you should bid on a CPM or CPC basis ultimately comes down to personal preference. Since CPM focuses on expanding page reach rather than clicks, this model is best when your intent is to raise brand awareness over conversions. Most people tend to go down the CPC route.

Using PPC ads for affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketers commonly use PPC ads to promote their products and services. Mostly, they place ads on:

  • search engines
  • price comparison websites
  • targeted content sites

Since affiliate marketing is based around cost per action (CPA) – when someone clicks on an ad and completes an action, such as buying something or providing an email address, for example – payment is closely aligned with results. This type of marketing requires ongoing management to get the best results. Factors that can negatively impact this kind of PPC marketing include poor ad response, poor placement, and competitive keyword bidding for brand terms.


How does Pay Per Click advertising work?

As we’ve established, advertisers use PPC to promote their products or services. They pay the PPC networks (Facebook, Bing, Google Ads, etc.) to display their ads, and are charged when a visitor clicks on or sees their ad.

The whole process plays out as follows:

  1. As an advertiser, you join a platform’s PPC program and “load” your account with some money.
  2. Create an ad that fits the platform. This might be a small text ad, or could be an image or video.
  3. Specify the keywords your ad should be associated with.
  4. Specify how much you’re willing to pay each time someone clicks on your ad.
  5. When someone types one of the keywords or keyword phrases into a social platform or search engine and clicks the “search” button, matching ads are displayed on the results page.
  6. If the searcher clicks the ad, they are taken to the advertiser’s website, and you as the advertiser are charged for the click.


What is a PPC campaign?

A PPC campaign can be defined as a logical, organized approach to PPC advertising, with comprehensive keyword research and ongoing management and maintenance. When broken down, all successful paid search campaigns share the same five elements:

  • Comprehensive planningThe planning process for your paid marketing effort will encompass everything from budgets to timeframes and the list below.
  • Ad groupsOne or more ads which target a shared set of keywords. Once you set a bid, an ad group keywords trigger an ad to appear.
  • KeywordsDetermine which keywords are relevant to your business’s offerings, and bid to place ads in the search results for relevant search queries.
  • Ad textThe text and/or imagery that convinces users to click on your ad.
  • Landing pagesWhere people are directed to when they click on your PPC ad.


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