What is PPC and how does it work?

What Is PPC And How Does It Work?

Internet marketing offers a plethora of techniques with PPC being one of the most popular and effective options. Pay-per-click is a form of advertising where website owners pay to place advertisements on search engines and other sites. Instead of waiting for online visitors to discover your website through organic search results, PPC ads are designed to send them straight there. It is why people say they are “buying visits” – paid advertising in other words. Pay-per-click does not only provide online visibility but also generates leads, depending on how well you design the ads.

What is PPC

With PPC ads on a search engine, you are paying for the clicks. Every time a user clicks on an ad, a charge goes into your PPC account. If a user gets on a search engine, sees your ad but does not click on it, no payment. It means that you are paying for a particular action and this is one reason PPC is preferred by marketers because the ROI is measurable. Just because a visitor clicked on a link does not automatically make them a lead. The landing pages for PPC adverts have to be good enough to convert a click into a lead.

How it Works

Now you get the pay-per-click form of marketing, so how do you go about it? The bottom-line of a PPC campaign is that you must have an ad placed on the search engine or social media site of choice. To do that, advertisers have to bid for keywords on search engines and demographics for social networks, which require an account.

Google, for instance, requires an Adwords account where you will load your budget before you start bidding.

Bidding for Keywords

You are making bids for keywords so that you can end up with specific words or phrases for your advertisements. When users go to a search engine, there are terms they use for conducting searches. What you are doing is getting keywords that will direct the right audience to your site. For instance, if you run a physical therapy clinic, the keywords physiotherapy or physical therapist are some that could get you loads of traffic. So these are some of the keywords you would bid for when putting together a PPC campaign.

Keyword research is the key to getting your bids right. It is not rare for companies to spend thousands of dollars bidding only to end up with keywords that target the wrong audience or keywords that don’t actually have any search volume. By search volume – we mean the estimated amount of searches a keyword gets a month. Understanding your target audience is the first stage of learning about the possible search queries they may use on different sites.


When setting a PPC budget, one of the aspects that will determine its suitability is the pricing method used for your adverts. Pay-per-click marketing provides two bidding options, CPM, cost-per-mille (cost per a thousand impressions) and CPC, cost-per-click.

Cost-per-click charges for every click that an ad gets. It is a performance-based strategy, which is favored by marketers looking to drive direct traffic to their sites. You can set your daily budget on your PPC account so Google does not spend more than what you can afford. You can also create bidding strategies that use manual or automatic bidding in order to show your keywords as often as possible for searchers. You only pay when someone clicks on your advert. They offer budget limits and caps so that you can control your spend.

Cost-per-impression, on the other hand, is based on just displaying the ad. It doesn’t matter if a user clicks or not, you still pay. Cost-per-impression is charged for every thousand impressions that an advert gets. Marketers prefer CPM when working on brand visibility because they are just trying to ram the brand identiy into potential leads heads.

With CPM, you are targeting the display network as opposed to search. The display network allows you to pay either on a cpc basis or a cpm basis. Test what works best for you and stick with it! With CPM, the higher the bid the higher the changes and frequency your ads will be shown on your targeted websites (otherwise referred to as “placements”) on the Adwords network. One downside of CPM is that you may end up paying for those impressions but not get even a single click.

Comparing Multiple Channels

The availability of multiple channels means you have more than one place to park your PPC ads. Google is a favorite for the simple fact that it is the most popular engine for users across the globe. The traffic that comes in on Google makes it hard to pass up. However, social media sites have joined the world of paid advertising, therefore, providing options. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook are common choices. The remarketing site AdRoll is another one. Getting a look at how these different channels operate with PPC ads makes it easy to pick the most suitable one.

Google AdWords

Google offers several options for PPC ads that cater to different advertising needs. Text ads are the most common on search engines. These adverts contain text only, and advertisers have to abide by strict Google AdWords guidelines such as the number of characters allowed on each advert. Product description ads are very popular due to the high number of e-commerce businesses. On Google, they are called Product Listing Ads and are designed to send shoppers to the direct pages that contain the advertised item. Recently, video ads have grown in popularity as more marketers embrace the power of visual. You can also structure a PPC ad with a video to appeal to a specific audience.

Facebook Ads

After Google, Facebook is the second most popular advertising channel for PPC. A business must have a presence on Facebook to capitalize on its ad features. One huge advantage of the network is how it lets advertisers target users of specific demographics. Ads can be structured to appear on pages where users have shown interest in similar products or services. Another plus side is that Facebook allows users to engage with your ads. Shares and likes can generate extensive exposure.

Twitter Ads

Although relatively new to the internet marketing playground, the microblogging site offers plenty of opportunities to advertise with PPC ads. Promoted tweets have become the bread and butter for Twitter marketers. By participating in conversations and following the right people, you can make your account work for you. Promoted tweets can be designed to contain text, video, GIFs, or even podcasts.


This site remarkets to Facebook users who have visited your site. It makes it possible for you to retarget consumers on all websites, which gives you a specific audience to work with. The site has many features, which allow for further web marketing.

About the author 

Zaid Ammari

Zaid is a leading expert on data driven digital marketing; focusing on analytics and actionable insights from data. Founder of PPC Masterminds - he helps businesses build & run profitable data driven digital campaigns.

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