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What is PPC?

5 min read

Back to Blog

5 min read

What is PPC?

Author: Kelly Baker
Posted in Search Marketing on 16th August 2017 10:17 am

What is PPC?

In the digital marketing world pay-per-click or PPC is one of the most powerful and effective forms of online advertising. The top spending companies in the UK, using advertising platforms such as Google Adwords, commit upwards of £10M per year of advertising spend to promote their products and services.

Taking Google as our example for the remainder of this chapter, the search results page has 2 main sections. The paid-for listings (PPC) are usually found at the top and bottom of the page. These adverts are identified with a small square box which reads ‘Ad’. The organic (sometimes referred to as natural) listings are sandwiched in between in the centre section.

Which PPC platform to choose?

Google AdWords is the biggest and most popular pay-per-click platform due to the sheer volume of traffic it can provide. Google itself is the largest search engine in the world, commanding a huge 79.5% percent search market share, according to Net Market Share as of July 2017. This is number one reason why I would recommend starting your PPC advertising journey with Google and Google Adwords, as your primary online advertising platform.

One disadvantage of using Google ads over other PPC platforms is the higher cost-per-click (CPC) which is typical when comparing like for like to the other major platforms. Another point to consider is the relatively steep learning curve and the time investment required to fully grasp the Google Adwords platform itself. Users with only a basic understanding will end up paying higher CPCs than other advertisers that have correctly optimised campaigns.

Bing represent the next largest share of the search and PPC advertising market, with 7.3% market share, according to Net Market Share as of July 2017. Baidu represents 7.0% of the search market, but its usage is limited strictly to China. Yahoo then represent the third largest share of the PPC advertising market in the western world, with 4.9% market share, according to Net Market Share as of July 2017.

Yahoo and Bing both offer PPC advertising platforms which have their own pros and cons, but the harsh truth is that they only have an 11% (combined) share of the search market. I would recommend that advertising on these platforms should be seen as a complementary activity once you have established a successful campaign on Google.

Keyword Research

The starting points for checking the viability of a PPC campaign is keyword research. There may well be a stark difference between the keywords that you would expect people to use to find your business or organisation, and the keyword terms that people are actually using. This is common occurrence and one which should be embraced as part of your development as a digital marketer.

Google provides a free tool to assist you with the keyword research process, called the Adwords Keyword Planner. To access and use this tool you must first create an Adwords account by logging in with a Gmail email address, or creating a new Gmail account if you do not have one. The signup process is straightforward and only takes a few minutes to complete.

Using the Keyword Planner tool you can verify if your own list of keywords has sufficient search volume to be included in your campaign. You can also explore Google’s suggestions of the keywords it thinks are relevant and search trends over recent months and years. Combining industry knowledge and recommendations from Google should allow you to select a final keyword list ready to use in your first campaign.

Why should I invest in a PPC campaign?

When I work with clients I nearly always recommend that we explore the use of PPC advertising as the first step in developing a profitable digital marketing campaign. Completing keyword research becomes an obvious next step and if viable I usually recommend a 3-6 month trial campaign to thoroughly test the effectiveness in each market.

There are some obvious benefits of trialling a PPC campaign for your business or organisation. The first and clearest one is the cost model ensure you will only get charged when someone proactively clicks on your ad. Proactive searching means your ads will be seen by your target audience at the right time and with the right message, making a quicker path to conversion.

With a PPC campaign to have the ability to set a budget, which we recommend you do so monthly and based on the recommendations of the keyword planner tool. Budget settings takes time and a little refinement to get it right, but the benefits are clear. If the campaign is not performing you can pause or end the campaign with immediate effect.

If marketing is all about measurement and refinement, then a PPC campaign is an ideal prospect for a marketer or business owner looking to constantly refine their marketing channels in search of improved ROI. All of the major ad platforms provide analytics data to help you build and develop a more robust and effective PPC campaign. Google Adwords, specifically, can be connected to your Google Analytics account which can create a very powerful data set for analysis of your wider digital marketing campaigns.

The growth opportunities of a PPC campaign are vast, with over 40,000 search queries every second being processed by Google alone. Translating to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide, the possibilities to grow your campaign are an exciting prospect for business owners. With the capability to expand your campaign from local targeting to a national and international reach, PPC is truly scaleable marketing channel.

Need help?

Our Paid Media Manager, Kelly Baker can help you with keyword research to understand the viability of a PPC campaign for your business. Say hello and let’s get started.

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