What is PPC Advertising? And How to Use it Effectively

Pay per click (PPC) advertising (also known as cost per click advertising) is an online advertising model that uses ads in search engine results to drive clicks through to your website. You are only charged when an online visitor clicks on your ad, hence the “pay per click” part. A strategically managed PPC campaign is usually an essential part of any modern businesses digital strategy.

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The great thing about Pay per click advertising is there are no grey areas, with the right knowledge and experience, you have all the tools and data you need to monitor and adjust your advertising efforts and see your exact return on investment (ROI).

Organic vs Paid Traffic

When it comes to digital marketing, there are 2 types of traffic to consider: Organic and Paid. Organic traffic is visitors finding their way to your site via natural means, e.g your page in search engine listings or well placed links on other websites and though social media marketing. Ranking organically for relevant search terms is one of the main digital goals for most businesses, but ranking organically, especially for a new business or website, is usually a challenge that has to be tackled with more long term strategies such as  SEO and content marketing. Depending on the competitiveness of the industry, it can take some time to build up enough content, backlinks and domain authority to move up through the search engine rankings. This is where paid traffic comes in:

Paid traffic, as the name suggests, is visits to your website that have been paid for, and although there are various forms of paid traffic, here we will focus primarily on the PPC model, which uses search engine advertising to generate clicks to your website, rather than “earning” those clicks organically.  The most common examples of PPC advertising are the sponsored ads you see at the top (or side) of Google or Bing’s search results page, marked with a small ‘Ad’ label. Pay per click advertising is a great way to get visitors when you need to generate some immediate traffic, however it can also be risky if not managed correctly. No amount of paid traffic is of any use if not enough those visits are converting into sales.

The most effective digital strategies often combine SEO and content marketing (to improve or solidify organic search engine rankings over time) with considered PPC campaigns that are designed to deliver an immediate return on investment. In general, PPC is not about long term strategies such as visibility or brand awareness – for a PPC campaign to be viable, those clicks must be converting into sales.

An important thing to note when considering PPC is that it does not scale. If you get more traffic, you pay more money in almost direct proportion to that traffic – your cost per click stays the same, and your overall cost increases. Compare that to search engine optimisation and content strategy where you invest a fixed amount of time and/or money to achieve a better rank, and your overall cost per click goes down as you begin to draw more and more organic traffic. This is why successful digital strategies take use a mix of approaches to achieve their marketing goals.

How Does it Work?

Keywords, keywords, keywords. The building blocks of search engines and SEO.

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When a prospective customer performs an online search, the search engine churns out a complex algorithmic calculation that determines what ads are displayed and the order in which they are displayed. In order for those ads to appear in the first place, companies are subject to an Ad Auction, where Google, Bing, Yahoo and the like determine the relevance and validity of your ad. This is determined by a number of factors including your maximum bid, ad relevance, and quality of landing page. This is why all campaigns and accompanying ads need to be strategically created. Otherwise, they just won’t make the spotlight.

It’s important work out what keywords are most valuable to your brand. A successful PPC advertising strategy will determine and target the right keywords, sort those into well organised campaigns and ad-groups, have magnetic ad copy, and relevant land pages that are optimised for conversion.

Without having a firm understanding of the system, you may end up investing in Google ads without comprehending triggers, keywords, and analytics. You might be the highest bidder but still not necessarily take the top position, because your ad is not tailored correctly.  You could also be showing your ad to the wrong people (and generating costly, irrelevant clicks) by not considering the right negative keywords in your ad campaign. Negative keywords are terms which trigger your ad not to show, and are very powerful for maintaining an appropriate audience for your ads.

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Why Should You Care?

Every business loves spending their money wisely, and what better way than using a system that offers complete transparency and accountability? PPC advertising allows for detailed reporting and analytics so that you can sit back and watch how many people have clicked your ads, what it cost you, and how much you made from their click. It is flexible, specialised, trackable, and the best part is that it works.

When done correctly, PPC advertising offers the opportunity to purchase a spot in front of your immediate competitors, gives you control of your budgets and audiences, provides real-time trackability so that you can maintain marketing efficiency.

By having access to detailed reporting and analytics, it makes it easy for you to calculate your return on investment as well as what keywords are working for you. This offers a long-term solution, and one that you can manage on your own in time, keeping advertising costs minimal and simplified.

You can also set your budget, turn your ads off when necessary, and perhaps even find a niche that you may have overlooked the whole time. The possibilities are endless! With the right knowledge and experience, you have all the tools and data you need to monitor and adjust your advertising efforts and see your exact return on investment (ROI).

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Where to From Here?

Let us nerds handle this. Sit back and pick up your device. We’d love to hear about your business and help you achieve your highest brand potential. Please feel free to call us on Sydney +61 (0) 2 9519 9922 or email [email protected]

by Radi Safi

Radi Safi is the Creative Director at IYBI. In 2012 he launched Happy, a music blog and media company.
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