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What is PPC?

We keep hearing it – PPC. What is this strange acronym everyone keeps talking about? PPC actually stands for Pay per click and is sometimes referred to as CPC, or Cost per click. According to Wikipedia, the definition of PPC (Pay per click) is “an internet advertising model used to direct traffic to a website, where advertisers pay the publisher when the ad is clicked.” These ads can be shown on websites or in search engine results.

Below are the Google search results for the search “what is PPC.” On the left, the red arrow is pointing to the PPC ads resulting from this search.


Paid Ads in Google Search Results


As stated earlier, PPC ads can be shown on actual websites as well.  These types of PPC ads, like the ones below are called content ads or display ads and can be shown one of two ways, with an image or with text.


Image Ad



How do they work?

The most common type of PPC is bid-based PPC.  Based on the advertiser’s strategy, they will choose a list of keywords, keyword phrases, keyword groups or categories, that when searched, they want their ads to be shown. They’ll then compete in a private auction, most commonly hosted by an advertising network, against other advertisers to have their ads shown when these keywords are searched. Advertisers can specify a maximum amount they wish to pay per keywords and then this automated auction takes place each time the keyword is searched.

Money is not the only factor in deciding which advertiser wins the auction. Relevance plays a huge role in this as well.  The host will look at the content of the actual ad, as well as the landing page associated with the ad. A combination of maximum bid, relevance of the ad, and relevance of the landing page and click through rate will all factor together to decide whose ad is shows and where it is shown.

What’s the point?

First of all, traffic. On average, PPC advertising accounts for 20% of the traffic coming to our website. We can increase or decrease that percentage as we see necessary – which leads me to its second benefit. Second is control; control of traffic and control of information. With most websites, it takes time to rank well in organic search results. But with PPC, you can create almost instant traffic and have the control to turn it on or off. You also control the information your visitors are accessing. Even with the most advanced SEO techniques, it’s ultimately up to search engines to decide which pages are displayed in search results and what information is displayed for those pages. With PPC ads, you decide what information is shown in search results and direct where it will take your visitor.

How do I get started?

There are a ton of resources out there for anyone who wants to get started with PPC advertising. Considering Google AdWords is one of the most common forms of Pay per click advertising, I would suggest starting with Google’s AdWords Help Center. Another great resource straight from Google is the Inside AdWords blog, a daily publication of AdWords news, information and tips.

For step-by-step instruction starting with setup all the way to managing your campaigns, check out ASPE’s own Mastering Google AdWords course.  Not only will you learn how to use, optimize and track your AdWords campaigns, you’ll have the option to take the Google Advertising Fundamentals exam in class, the first of 2 exams needed to become a Google AdWords Certified Professional.

Still have questions? Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a tweet – @sonbirdtb.

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