What is PPC and Paid Search Marketing?

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In previous articles, we’ve covered topics about Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of pay-per-click marketing and create a strong foundation in paid search marketing. 

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing falls under search engine marketing (SEM) and is a paid advertising model where advertisers only pay when people interact with their ad. This interaction can be anything from an impression to a click. PPC ads are most commonly found on search engine results pages (SERP) like Google and Bing but are also used on social platforms.

How does PPC work?

PPC advertising works on an automated ad auction search engines use. For every search query, search engines determine the relevancy and validity of the ads that appear on SERP. Search engines use quality score, ad rank and keywords to determine which ads will be shown and in what order. 

Quality score looks at how relevant your keywords are along with the quality of your ad and it’s landing pages. Your landing page is the page that leads to your site after a person clicks on your ad. Having a landing page that is relevant to your ad is an important aspect in developing a good quality score. 

If you’re advertising women’s socks, your ad link should bring customers to a product page for women’s socks. Having relevant information that matches your ad is crucial in creating a good overall experience as well.

Ad rank is a little more complicated. It is calculated using your bid amount, quality score and relevance of a search query. Keywords you choose to rank for are also important in determining where your ads appear, if they appear at all. Choosing the right keywords that relate to your landing page and ad helps to establish relevance.

PPC Goals

When creating a PPC ad, it is important to consider your campaign goals so you can determine how to measure the effectiveness of your ad. Using a goal can ease your decision-making process when you create a new campaign. They can guide you to select specific features to help you reach your goal. PPC ads can be used to grow awareness of your business or to drive conversions.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is how much familiarity your audience has with your company and what you offer. When creating ads to build brand awareness, you are targeting your audience who is at the top of the marketing funnel. 

You want to build awareness and positive associations with your company and the products and services you sell. You can measure your brand awareness with impressions, click-through rates, and page views instead of purchases. Ideally, display ads are most effective because they can create an emotional connection using engaging imagery and text if done properly.

Lead Generation

Whether you want to encourage customers to complete a quote form or get someone to sign up for your newsletter, generating leads is about having a relevant and engaging landing page and website. If you’re looking for customers to make a purchase, having separate landing pages for each ad group or for each category makes it easy to track conversion rates. If you want to gain as many newsletter subscriptions, having high-quality content throughout your website helps track the number of leads.

Promotions

During the holidays or events during the year, you can offer promotions or sales on a product or service. Creating specific pages for sale items or services helps to determine if your customers came from your ad. You can create promotional extensions to make your offer stand out and helps potential customers spot great deals and generate new sales for your business. Creating promotional ads can help generate ecommerce sales, generate leads and increase conversions.

Types of PPC Campaigns

There are many different types of paid advertising campaigns that offer many ways in reaching your audience. Choosing the right type of campaign depends on where your audience is and how to reach them most efficiently.

Search Ads

Search ads, also known as text ads, are the most common form of ads and appear on search engine results pages. Text ads use headline text, a display URL, and a description to promote your product, service or website. With text ads, you can add more information about your business, like location, phone number or links to your website, by adding extensions.

Display Ads

Display ads use images to attract customers and are placed on external and partner websites. They can appear on the top of a website as a banner ad or along the side of a website. These ads provide a creative opportunity to showcase your business or product on websites that are relevant to your business.

Social Ads

Social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, have a higher number of users who can be potential customers. You can create ads on social platforms to reach your target audience based on location, demographics and even purchase behaviour and device usage.

Remarketing Ads

Remarketing ads can use cookies to show specific ads based on a user’s previous online activity. They can be used as part of display, search, or social media campaigns and can even include email ads.

Shopping Ads

Shopping ads are available on both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads and offer ecommerce sites the best way to advertise their products. These work like regular search queries when someone is looking for a specific product. These ads include a picture of the product, a short description and the price.

PPC Platforms

There are many places where you can advertise your business but the most popular advertising platforms are effective because they have the most traffic. These include Google Ads, Microsoft ads, and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Google Ads

It’s probably the biggest PPC platform available to advertisers and one of the most popular due to the amount of traffic it attracts. Google Ads offers a wide range of audience targeting along with comprehensive tracking of your ad’s performance. With Google Ads, you can connect with customers through multiple devices and across different Google sites like Gmail and YouTube.

Microsoft Ads

Although not as popular as a search engine like Google, Microsoft provides a strong alternative to PPC advertising. With its partnership with Yahoo and AOL through Virgin Media, it means that any advertisement created on Microsoft Ads will be shared with all three search engines and affiliated websites. Microsoft Ads also provides less competition and lower CPC but at a lower audience base.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads is an effective platform because it can specifically target users based on their activity across Facebook and locations. The social network also uses native ads so that ads appear as part of your social feed. Advertising with Facebook also means you can advertise on Instagram as well.

For more on advertising with Facebook, check out our Facebook Ads:A Step-by-Step Guide.

LinkedIn

With over 630 million active users, LinkedIn is the largest global community of business professionals. This includes users that are decision-makers, influencers and leaders and they use LinkedIn with purpose and to consume a range of professional content. LinkedIn users have a different mindset and intent from other social media platforms as they use LinkedIn for professional advice, peer insights, and networking. If you’re a business with high quality and valuable content on industry insights, LinkedIn is a great platform to attract users to your website.

PPC Tips

There are some important steps in making sure your PPC campaign can become as successful as possible. Running keyword research, having a strong landing page and performing A/B testing can go a long way in ensuring your ads can bring the most return on ad spend (ROAS).

Keyword Research

Before creating a PPC campaign, it is important to determine which keywords to rank for and so doing keyword research is key in the success of your ads. You likely have some keywords already in mind that you would like to rank for but it is important to test these keywords in a keyword research tool to know the monthly search volume and the average cost per click.

When selecting keywords, they should be closely related to your ad group. Once you create your campaign, you can closely monitor which keywords yield the best results and which ones aren’t.

Another important aspect of keyword research is negative keywords. Creating a negative keyword list lets search engines know what keywords you don’t want to rank for. Negative keywords can be determined by keywords that aren’t performing well or are unrelated to what you’re selling.

Landing Page Experience

As mentioned before, your landing page is one of the most important elements since it affects your Quality Score. Since your landing page is the first thing potential customers see after clicking your ad, it needs to be targeted and relevant to your ad. Your landing page should also have a clean layout, be easily navigable and have content related to your ad and keywords.

A/B Testing

Since PPC advertising can be costly, it is important to understand which ad campaigns are working and which are not producing the right results. Through A/B testing, you can see which campaigns have higher click-through rates and conversion rates. With search ads, you can change the headline, description, display URL and keywords. Each change to one of these can impact your results positively or negatively.

Final Thoughts

PPC advertising is the foundation of advertising on popular search engine platforms, like Google and Microsoft, and social platforms, like Facebook and LinkedIn. Depending on your goal, whether to increase brand awareness, generate leads or sales, each platform offers different PPC campaign types to match your goals. It’s important to plan and research for each ad campaign you want to create to ensure your ad spend doesn’t go to waste.

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