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PPC Basics - Starter Guide

PPC (Pay per Click) is a valuable and a core component in digital marketing strategies. PPC is paid, immediate advertising through platforms such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and LinkedIn. When these ads are utilized correctly, PPC ads can be set up quickly and usually produce more immediate results than other digital marketing methods. Understanding PPC ads can elevate your overall marketing strategy and may lead to increased traffic to your website and higher conversions.

There are many definitions and acronyms that could cause a headache for any business owner. To help you understand it better, we’ve defined key terms and detailed four popular PPC platforms to help form your understanding of PPC ads.

Key Terms

  • SERP - The Search Engine Results Page is shortened by the abbreviation SERP. SERP is often referred to when discussing the rankings of a search query or where your page may rank.

  • ROI - Return on Investment is the ratio between money earned and lost on a PPC investment. One way to measure ROI in PPC is by the equation ROI = Total Revenue - Total Cost ÷ Total Cost X 100. The amount earned should be greater than the money spent to invest in the PPC advertisement. Otherwise, this may not have a good return on investment and you could be losing money without reaping any benefits from the advertisement.

  • CTA - Call to Action is the specified message at the end of an advertisement, social media post, or content. The CTA is important because it is directing the user what to do next. The CTA may be to complete a form, make a purchase, follow an account, etc. CTAs are important because it should be a clear, easy message for users to understand and act on.

  • CTR - Click Through Rate is the number of clicks on your ad, divided by the number of times your ad is shown. CTR is relevant in PPC because it helps determine how effective your ad is to your target audience. The lower the CTR, it could signal that your ad is not that effective. The higher the CTR might signal that your ad is resonating with your audience and they are compelled to click on your ads.

The CTR formula looks like this : Clicks ÷ Impressions = Click through rate

  • CPC - Cost Per Click is the amount that advertisers pay search engines or platforms per (one) click on their advertisement. CPC is important to understand because it helps determine how much keywords or target audiences will cost. It allows you to understand the competitor market and helps you manage your budgets more effectively.

  • KPI - Key Performance Indicator is a specific, quantifiable metric that shows progress towards your business goals. There are various types of KPIs depending on the business needs and goals. Some examples of Key Performance Indicators are website visitors, leads, and sales.

  • Quality Score - Quality score is a metric that applies to Google Ads in particular that affects your CPC (remember : Cost-per-click). Quality score is Google’s examination score of the quality and relevance of your advertisement and your keywords.

  • Negative Keywords - Negative Keywords are keywords or phrases that you may want to implement to avoid unwanted traffic. Since search queries are sometimes broad, there could be unwanted keywords that match your targeted keywords. Negative keywords allow keyword targeting to be more qualified based on the search query.

PPC Platforms

Now that some of the important key terms in PPC have been defined, the next step is choosing the right platform(s). Choosing the right Pay-per-click platform for your business can help your ROI and ensure that you are spending your advertising dollars wisely. A few factors to consider in this process include audience volume, target audience demographics, and cost-per-click. We’ve detailed some of the most popular platforms that can be used for PPC.

Google Ads

Google Ads is the most popular digital advertising platform that businesses can choose to run their PPC ads on. Google offers the option to run ads across its search engine, partner websites like YouTube, Google Maps, and other various Google-owned entities. These channels allow for ad format variation, so the types of ads seen on Google may include image, video, text, or a responsive ad. Google has an immense reach through their various channels, so it typically provides the most volume of users to target.

Due to the high search volume on Google, there are two possible outcomes from this volume. The positive outcome is that there is a massive audience reach through Google. However, the negative outcome of this high search volume is that the most valuable keywords are likely more expensive to bid on, which means the CPC is high.

Microsoft Ads

Microsoft Ads, also referred to as Bing Ads, another popular option for PPC ads. There are 7.2 Billion Monthly PC searches in the United States alone, so there is potential to show your business in some of these searches. Since Bing search engine is the default search engine for many popular Microsoft products, using Microsoft Ads will allow you to reach an additional audience that you might not reach with Google. Due to lower search volume and competition than Google Ads, Microsoft Ads is generally cheaper to advertise on.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads is another popular platform to run PPC ads on. Facebook and Instagram are owned by Meta so your business can run ads on both platforms which expands the reach of your audience. Another great benefit of Facebook and Instagram is you can target your audience based on interests and demographic attributes. By having a wider audience and a more targeted approach, you are able to segment your ads more effectively which ultimately could lead to a better experience and hopefully increase in sales or leads.

LinkedIn Ads

Due to the professional nature of the LinkedIn Network, PPC ads on this platform may be a good alternative for B2B advertising needs. Businesses could target business professionals and business profiles based on the public content they post. There are options to target specific variables such as industry, skills, employers. LinkedIn Ads often require a larger cost input due to the smaller volume of users. The CPC is higher because there is potential to be shown to more users within a smaller volume.

Make the Most of Your PPC Campaign

PPC Ads are not limited to just Google Ads, and the plethora of options may be overwhelming to choose from. However, each platform has its own pros that could complement your digital marketing strategy so it could benefit your business to use multiple platforms. Determining which platforms function the best for your businesses’ campaign will ultimately result in a positive ROI.

If you are still unsure about which platform may be the most profitable for your business, please feel free to contact us for a consultation.


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