To Spend or Not to Spend: The Basics of PPC

Digital Marketing

What is PPC?

Chances are you used a search engine today, maybe even finding this blog article in a search query. Did you happen to notice the sponsored options that appeared at the top of your results? Usually, there are two or three websites that will be demarcated as ads before you hit the regular, unpaid results. This is an example of PPC or pay-per-click marketing.

The concept of PPC is simple: when creating an ad that will appear on search engines, you specify within your budget how much you are willing to bid in order to appear as close to the top of the search results as possible. The winning ad takes the top spot, and all subsequent leaders are placed below it. The catch is that every time someone clicks on your ad, you pay a small fee to the company running the search engine. This fee is not a fixed one, instead of being determined by the number of clicks that the ad receives— more clicks will lower the fee, while few clicks will keep it high.

Search Engine Optimization

Naturally, the desire on the part of the advertiser is to keep the cost-per-click low, so that the resultant purchase on their website will yield the biggest profit margin. This is where mastering the local SEO comes into play. Optimizing your advertisement so that it shows up in the right query results can be an artform— one that marketing firms in this digital age have been spending a lot of resources in the hopes of doing it better. There are a few tips to ensure that your SEO is up to par, not only with relation to your standing with competitors but with the search engine owner itself.

Choose the Right Keywords

When writing ad copy, or filling out the text on a landing page, it is essential to include relevant keywords that are likely to show up in the greatest number of searches for your product. For instance, when writing an ad for your ice cream business, you might want to target people who do searches for “soft serve” or “local ice cream shop,” in order to increase the likelihood that they see your ad.

Choosing the right keywords is a balancing act, however. You don’t want to target around words that are so narrow that it will hinder the overall reach of your ad, thus screwing with its performance. On the other hand, going too broad (or choosing keywords that aren’t relevant to your business) in the hopes of casting a wider net could get you in trouble with the search engine itself. 

Adhere to Good Web Design Practices

Your landing page is the important other half of any good advertisement and will make your PPC spend more manageable. Your landing page should have copy that is similar to what you used for the ad — this should keep your ad quality score high with the search engine. Businesses that manage ads on their platforms, like Google, will reward you with more relevant placement and reach if you make your landing page crawlable. A crawlable website is one in which Google can send out bots (also known as “spiders”) to go through the pages and ensure that the links are all working properly and that they all go to where they should.

Another important web design philosophy to adhere to is readability. Is the page stuffed with keywords in the hopes of spamming the search engine with results, or is the page written and laid out in a natural, competent way? When optimizing your ads, your website builder should be able to give you a quick assessment of the page’s readability.

PPC Best Practices

In order to keep your cost-per-click low, you must master not only search engine optimization, but there are other best practices to observe.

  • Always take time to research what the competition is doing so that your ads remain relevant, and your PPC bid is not wasted in being redundant or out of touch.
  • Pick a budget and stick to it. It may be tempting to change the budget to being more or less once the ad is up and running, but bear in mind that businesses like Google go through a “learning phase,” in which it assesses your ad and landing page. Making sweeping changes to the budget will cause Google to go through this phase all over again, and it will impact the placement of your ad.
  • That being said, make sure to regularly check the performance of your campaigns. PPC is all about making sure you hit that sweet spot of focused placement and low cost-per-click; sometimes changes are called for.
  • If you are using a marketing agency to run your ads, rely on their expertise. This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to remember that they work with the likes of Google every day, and know what it takes to effectively manipulate the local SEO.

By keeping these practices in mind, you will feel more confident and see more success in your attempts to make your PPC as effective as possible.