The Ultimate Guide to PPC

Pay Per Click

Pay-per-click refers to a type of search engine marketing, where the advertisers pay only if people click on their ads. By using pay-per-click, you pay for visits to your webpage. The benefit of this form of advertising is that only interested prospects will engage with your brand. Almost 50% of small businesses rely on paid advertising to promote their brand, which means that every marketer should have complete knowledge of the pay-per-click marketing model. 

Pay-per-click or PPC can help your business get excellent leads when done properly. Typically, PPC ads are used in search engine results pages, like Google, Yahoo or Bing. PPC is a very popular form of advertising that gives advertisers the chance to make a bid for ad placement on a search engine’s results page. The ad appears when a user searches for keywords linked to the business. You may ask yourself where exactly PPC ads appear. Well, they are the first search results you see on Google before the organic results. Let’s take a look at an example:

Google Ads

The way you identify a PPC ad is by looking for the word “Ad” written in green under the name of the search result. Remember though that Pay-per-click doesn’t only refer to paid advertising on search engines like Google or Bing. It also refers to paid advertising on social media as well-ads on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name only a few. 

Why You Should Use PPC

You may be wondering why you should rely on PPC at all, since you can use search engine optimization (SEO) to get your content on the search results? Well, the thing with that is that keywords are very competitive. For this strategy to be successful, the business needs to have domain authority, which is a search engine ranking score that determines the webpage’s ability to rank on SERPs (search engine results). Otherwise, the chances the business finds itself on the high up on SERPs are close to zero. 

You’ve probably noticed the sheer number of businesses that are using paid advertising-the actual organic search results for your keywords only start in the middle of the page. However, you shouldn’t ignore SEO altogether-your SEO should go together with paid ads. 

Including paid advertising into your overall inbound marketing strategy will increase brand awareness and rank for common keywords.  

Terms You Should Know

Before you can start integrating PPC into your marketing strategy, there are several terms with which you should be familiar.  

Search Engine Marketing

The goal is to appear high on the pages of search engines for particular keywords. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a digital marketing strategy that refers to both search engine optimization and paid advertising.  


As the name suggests, cost-per-click (CPC) refers to the amount that the advertiser pays for each click that the ad attracts. Think of it as your bid in an auction that decides where your ad will appear. Naturally, the more you pay for a click, the better your chances of getting great ad placement. However, there’s an actual formula that determines how much you’ll pay for a single click: Competitor’s Ad Rank/ Your Quality Score) + 0.0.1.  

Let’s unpack this formula. 

Ad Rank

Your ad rank determines what position your ad will have on the results page of the search engine. This metric is Maximum Bid x Quality Score. 

Quality Score

Search engines use this to rate the quality and relevance of your pay-per-click ads and the keywords you used. The Quality Score is used to fix the cost-per-click (CPC) along with your ad rank in the during the ad auction. There are several elements that factor into a Quality Score: 

  • Click-through rate (CTR) 
  • How relevant every keyword is to its ad group 
  • How relevant your ad text is 
  • Landing page quality and relevance 
  • Previous account performance 

Maximum Bid

Again, pretty self-explanatory; the maximum price you’re willing to pay for a single click on your ad. You can manually set a CPC or you can allow the search engines to modify your bid based on your goals. You can also choose another enhanced option that automatically modifies bids based on clicks or conversions.  

Cost per Mille (CPM)

Also referred to as cost per thousand, CPM is the cost per a thousand impressions. There is an incredible amount of cost-per (enter some metric), but for sake of simplicity and brevity, we’ll only use clicks.  


The first thing you need to do is set up a campaign. A campaign refers to the theme or message you want to send to your prospects with your paid ads. 

Ad Group

After you’ve settled on a campaign, you need to create ad groups. An ad group has at least one (usually several) ads that have related targets. You’ll create a number of ads as a part of your campaign. Ad groups help you organize your ads by a shared theme-separate ad groups according to the products or services you’re advertising. 


Each one of your ads will target a group of relevant keywords. That means that your ad will appear in the search engine results page (SERPs) when users type in those keywords or key terms into the search engine.  

Ad Text

The ad text should be strongly related to the targeted keywords. If there isn’t a strong link between the two, then your Quality Score will suffer. Therefore, ensuring that the keywords match your ad will guarantee your ad’s relevance which plays a huge role in determining the Quality Score.  

Landing Page

A user is taken to a landing page once they’ve clicked on your PPC ad. Therefore, a landing page is a vital element in your overall PPC advertising strategy. A landing page is typically a webpage that acts as the destination for your ads. However, it can also be your homepage if you so choose. The important thing to remember is to optimize your landing pages in order to maximize your conversion rates. Be sure to read on how to optimize your landing page (link to blog post). 

Getting Started with PPC

When setting up a digital marketing campaign, you need to have clearly defined goals in mind. What do you want to accomplish with your paid ads? Are you after visits to your website, an increase in sales or brand awareness? Also include a budget for your marketing campaigns-how much are you willing to pay to achieve your targets? 

Goals and Goal Metrics

Every campaign should have clearly defined goals and metrics by which you’ll measure the success of the campaign. There are several common pay-per-click goals you should consider. 

  • Brand awareness is one of the most popular goals of paid advertising; it’s about introducing your business to your target audience. One of the best ways to increase brand awareness is by advertising through banners on websites, apps or even social media. This is called display advertising. Display ads are eye-catching because they typically consist of text, images, audio and video. There many metrics out there to help you measure brand awareness including the number of website visitors, or the level of social engagement your business drums up. Social engagement is the followers, likes, retweets your content on social media platforms generates.   
  • Lead generation is a good indicator of success your paid advertising campaign is creating. You generate leads precisely because your paid ad and the landing page are engaging and well synced. There are many different ways to monitor conversions: you can use the interface in Google Ads or tools offered by HubSpot. 
  • Site Traffic should be your goal if your business has an engaging and exciting website. Your paid ads will only be a worthwhile marketing investment if your webpage can retain its visitors and hopefully convert them in the near future.  
  • Sales are another popular goal of PPC and you can track the amount of sales generated via a Content Management System. 

Campaign Types

There are various styles of paid advertising campaigns, which means that your campaign will be based on where you can reach your audience. Choose your campaign style based on where and how you’ll spread your message. 

In addition to display ads, the most widely used form of pay-per-click are search ads, and they’re the ads that appear on SERPs. Next, social ads are used all the social media platforms. You can buy ads that will show on your prospects newsfeed or somewhere else on their profile. The options vary based on the platforms. 

Remarketing is a powerful way of reconnecting with users who previously interacted with your brand’s webpage or app. It relies either on cookies or a list of prospects that you want to target who’ve already interacted with your business earlier. By adopting this model, your paid ads will appear in front of in those people as they browse Google. Remarketing is a great way of increasing brand awareness or nudging prospects to buy a product or service.  

Keyword Research

Every ad group you create must have a set of keywords to target, which will allow search engines to show your ad when users type in those keywords in the search bar. You want to choose a number keywords for every ad group. Don’t forget that the keywords must be relevant; they have to be closely related to your ad. Otherwise, your Quality Score will suffer. 

Keyword research for pay-per-click advertising can be a long process, but it is absolutely vital for your campaign. In fact, your whole PPC marketing campaign rests on keywords, which is why you must constantly improve and grow your keyword list. Don’t think that once you’ve put together a keyword list that you’re done with research. A keyword list should have the following characteristics: 

  • It should be relevant – Obviously the keywords you target should lead to a higher click-through rate. Make sure that your keywords are strongly associated with your company’s products or services. 
  • Complete – Of course, your keyword list should include the most frequently searched terms in your field. However, you should also include long-tail keywords, which are extremely narrow and specific to your product or service. Even though they are rarer, they contribute a lot to search-driven visits. Also, they are less expensive than more popular keywords. 
  • Extensive –As you’ve already noticed, don’t think that you have to stay with the same keyword list with which you started your campaign. Pay especially close attention to costly keywords, and see if their cost is justified. Get rid of keywords that aren’t bringing in the types of visitors you want. 

Ad Copy

If your campaign is run properly, then your ads will be displayed to your target audience. However, only compelling copy will convince your prospects to click on your PPC ads. In order to create great copy, you need to provide the searcher exactly what they’re after.  

Search ads are made up of a headline, a URL and a short description. On top of that, there is a character limit, which means that your ad should be short and sweet. So with that in mind, your ad copy should speak to your target audience while using the same language on your landing page. Make sure that your offer is attractive and that you include the main keyword that you’re bidding on in your ad. Finally, don’t forget to include actionable call-to-action so that your prospect knows what to do. 

The Best Pay-Per-Click Platforms

Now that you have a broad understanding of the most important PPC concepts, you’re probably wondering where you should advertise. It really depends. You should take into account where your prospects spend their time and target those platforms. Also, while popular platforms are powerful because of the large number of users, businesses with smaller budgets might consider less popular option. It is very important to research available keywords when deciding on a platform along with the size of your budget. 

With that in mind, let’s wrap up this guide with a couple of heavy hitters from the world of paid advertising: 

  • Google Ads – The largest player on the market with 3.5 billion searches per day gives you a perfect opportunity to put your ads in front of the people you want 
  • Facebook Ads – Facebook gives you the ability to target your prospects according to interests, demographics, location and so much more. This platform is very popular in large part due to its targeting options. Also, you can use this platform on Instagram as well! 

When done properly, paid advertising could give you a competitive edge. That’s why it should play a large role in your inbound marketing strategy. Happy bidding!