Beginner’s Guide to PPC Advertising

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising is an online advertising strategy. It is used to effectively reach a brand’s target audience, even at a limited budget.

PPC is done with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but SEO can be done without PPC. To the unfamiliar, these terms can sound very technical, but learning about PPC is an easy gateway to digital marketing. It is self-explanatory, and it’s used with the most common online marketing strategies.

Done right, PPC is one of the best options for businesses to grow their brand and drive up sales volume.

What is PPC Advertising?

Pay-per-click, as the name suggests, is a paid advertising model where a business bids for the most common keyword searches in search engines such as Google, or Bing. For the ad to appear at the top, it should meet the search engine’s metrics for keyword relevance and quality content.

A fee is then paid to the search engine for every ‘click’ on the advertisement.

With PPC, the advertiser only pays when people interact with their ad through impressions or clicks. The purpose is to bring fresh traffic to your website and reach a much larger audience, instead of relying on organic reach.

When done right, PPC can earn you quality leads. If you can create a seamless user journey, it could mean a huge return of investment, as the payment per click does not really cost much. The most effective ads show when a user is searching for their products or services, or for other closely related search queries.

Pay-per-click advertising is most common in search engine results pages (SERPs) like Google, but is also used on social media channels. If you’re wondering where you can find pay-per-click ads, they’re the results you see before the organic search results. It has a tag or “Ad” box shown beside the website link.

How Does PPC work?

Search engine marketing (SEM) is one of the most popular form of PPC. Search engines like Google and Bing offer advertising services to businesses and brands on their search pages.

To advertise on Google, you need to have a Google AdWords or Microsoft Bing account. Once you set one up, you’ll be able to create ads.

To get your ads shown on search engines, you enter into Google or Bing’s auction by bidding on words or phrases that relate to the product or service you wish to promote.

If your PPC ad shows on the first page of search results whenever a shopper is searching for your products or services along with your competitors, this means that your chosen keywords and digital strategy is effective. You can always study the results and play around the keywords, and produce more quality content to make the most of your PPC spend.

PPC marketing is also known as search engine marketing (SEM). Business owners and marketers know that this strategy is constantly evolving, and that they should stay updated in order to grow their brands and get more leads.

A ‘lead’ is a marketing term for individuals who click on these ads. These can be potential customers or followers. Their clicks and inquiries leave digital footprints, which you can then use to study for further ads targeting.

What are the benefits of PPC?

So, why would you pay for ads when you can reach your audience organically through quality content and strategically placed keywords, otherwise known as SEO?

This is because SEO alone has become increasingly competitive. This makes it more difficult for small businesses who do not have the domain authority just yet to get their products into the top rankings.

Even if one blog or article gets featured as a Google Snippet — a much coveted SEO achievement, where an article or webpage excerpt becomes the top search result, it is still not a guarantee. The Google featured snippet is one of the highest forms of organic reach that SEO strategists aim for. The article becomes a featured snippet if it meets Google’s metric for website credibility and quality content. This may be fleeting, but the result is huge — it drives more traffic to the website, and instantly earns credibility for the brand.

The downside, however, is that there is no guarantee on how long a Google Featured Snippet article will last. Depending on the popularity of a topic or business, a featured snippet article can easily be replaced by another article or webpage that comes up with a more updated content.

In fact, so many businesses are using ads that organic results don’t even start until you’re further down the page. But this doesn’t mean that you should ditch all your SEO efforts completely. Your paid advertising should complement your SEO strategy. These two works well together, like butter on toast.

Paid advertising will help you rise to the top in a competitive market and be seen by potential customers. It can also help you promote your next marketing initiative, improve brand awareness, or rank for difficult keyword terms.

Put simply, PPC is one of the effective strategies in getting to the top of your niche. And, if done responsibly, PPC can be an integral move to your inbound marketing strategy.


As mentioned earlier, SEO can work without PPC, but PPC cannot work without SEO. As a business owner, you will always need to build keyword-optimized content on your website, whether intentional or not. Here is a rundown of the difference between SEO and PPC, and how you can make them work to your advantage.

  • SEO is very strategic. This is best for building credibility on your website and brand as a whole. SEO starts from when you’re first building your website user interface (UI), to creating informative landing pages, and regular content. Though its rules are constantly changing and it’s getting more competitive, this is also its advantage.
  • SEO is cumulative. Your content reach, and your website/brand authority grows over time. SEO is best for building long-term organic reach and credibility. You achieve this by putting out regular quality content for your followers, and use PPC to expand your audience.
  • PPC is very practical. It works for beginners in getting their brand across, and it also works for established businesses to gain leverage. You only pay when somebody clicks, not when your ad shows up. It is more of a one-off thing, but you can use the data from your PPC reach to study your leads, and improve your targeting.

For a quality content or advertisement to be effective, both PPC and SEO must be implemented.

For best results, PPC should be done first to reach more audience, and then establish your brand with SEO. Keep learning by using both PPC and SEO to get results. Use PPC results to optimize SEO campaigns, and lay the groundwork for long-term organic reach.


Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

The objective of all forms of digital advertising is to rank for a target keyword, and that can be done in a number of ways. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to any digital marketing (paid or unpaid) done on a search engine, like Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

SEM is an umbrella term that encompasses both paid advertising and search engine optimization. This means ranking organically for keywords.

It’s important to note that not all PPC occurs on search engines. Social media has PPC ads, too. There’s Facebook ‘boosting’, and Instagram sponsored posts.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC)

Cost-per-click (CPC) is the amount that an advertiser pays for each click on your ad. CPC acts as your bid in an auction that determines where your ad will be placed.

As you can imagine, a higher bid equates to better ad placement. You set your CPC at the maximum price you are willing to pay per click on your ad.

What you actually pay is determined by the following formula:

(Competitor’s Ad Rank / Your Quality Score) + 0.01 = Actual CPC.

Ad Rank

This value determines the position of an ad on a search engine results page.

It’s equal to Maximum Bid x Quality Score.

Quality Score

This is the score that search engines give to your ad based on your clickthrough rate (CTR).

It is measured against the average CTR of ads in that position, the relevance of your keywords, the quality of your landing page, and your past performance on the SERP.

Maximum Bid

This is the maximum you are willing to pay per click on you ad.

It is also good to note that you can set your CPC into two categories: Manual and Enhanced.

  • Manual is where you determine the maximum bid for your ads.
  • Enhanced which allows the search engines to adjust your bid based on your goals. One of this enhanced option involves bid strategies that automatically adjust your bids based on wither clicks or conversions.


PPC refers to a style of marketing that includes paying for advertisements while CPC on the other hand refers to the amount of money you spend on a single click on your ad.

CPM (Cost per Mile)

CPM or also known as cost per thousand, is the cost per one thousand impressions. It’s most commonly used for paid social and display ads.


The first step in setting up your PPC ads is determining your ad campaign. You can think of your campaign as the key message, or theme, you want to get across with your advertisements.

Ad Group

One size doesn’t fit all. That’s why you’ll create a series of ads within your campaign based on a set of highly related keywords. You can set a CPC for each ad group that you create.


Each ad within your ad group will target a set of relevant keywords or key terms. These keywords tell search engines which terms or search queries you want your ad to be displayed alongside in SERPs.

Once you determine which keywords perform best, you can set a micro CPC just for keywords within your ads.

Ad Text

Your keywords should inform your ad text. Remember, your Quality Score is determined by how relevant your ad is, therefore, the text in your ad, and landing page for that matter, should match the keyword terms that you’re targeting.

Landing Page

A landing page is a critical piece of your paid advertising strategy. The landing page is where users will end up once they click your PPC ad.

Whether it’s a dedicated webpage, your homepage, or somewhere else, make sure to follow landing page best practices to maximize conversions.

The Takeaway

Setting up and launching your first PPC campaign can both be exciting and daunting. Now you can get started on researching your keywords, testing out different visuals and headlines, to find the most effective approach. You can then set landing pages to convert website visitors into customers.

The fact remains that there is no room to be complacent with digital marketing. It’s an exciting job, as the rules get constantly updated and you learn more strategies as you go along. Make sure you keep an eye on your competitors, and continue refining and optimizing for best results. All the best!