The PPC Hierarchy of Needs

Success in pay per click search advertising requires a mind that’s methodical and adaptive, empirical and intuitive, structured and creative. And that’s not all. For an established campaign, many tasks of PPC marketing are done continuously and sometimes even simultaneously.

It would be easy for a PPC professional to become dizzy just thinking of all the tasks and requirements of the job. But the overwhelming responsibilities can be managed when considered in their proper order. Some tasks of a project will be more effective and efficient when other tasks have been accomplished beforehand — a PPC hierarchy of needs, if you will.

pay per click hierarchy of needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a popular diagram that illustrates this concept as it applies to human psychology. This diagram has done much to raise awareness and to bring theoretical order to the complex system of psychological motivators.

In the same way, this PPC hierarchy of needs diagrams and orders the multifaceted requirements of search engine advertising. Like Maslow’s Hierarchy, the PPC hierarchy of needs diagram is a pyramid where needs at the top of the pyramid can’t be fulfilled until needs the below it are met.

Analytics & Performance Evaluation

Analytics data and continual performance evaluation form the backdrop for all PPC efforts. A PPC campaign is not stagnant — it evolves and develops through a cycle of trial, error, and improvement. Any pay per click campaign requires repeated testing and revising of ad copy, landing pages, and keywords. Accessing and analyzing data is required to make informed decisions at every point during the campaign optimization process.

Through analytical data, a PPC professional can evaluate the performance of keywords and ads, adjusting the bidding for maximum return on investment. Based on query reports, a search engine marketer can identify and test new keywords as well as knock out negative keywords. Analytics data makes it possible to optimize campaign settings like time of day and location. Keep in mind that evaluating ad performance requires on at least a couple hundred clicks for reliable empirical data.

Account Structure

Before a PPC campaign can be started, an account has to be created and properly structured through the respective search marketing platform. Every ad platform has unique requirements that must be considered. The initial credit card and contact info must be set up before an account is generated. Then, creating a strategic structure for the campaign is a critical step in creating a foundation for a relevant, high-quality campaign.

Within campaigns are ad groups, and within ad groups are keywords. It is very important that the theme is fully aligned from top to bottom. When crafting the account structure, keep Quality Score and relevancy in mind. Pay attention to whether the keywords match the ads and the ads match the landing pages. The account structure is where you set yourself up not only to manage the campaign most effectively, but also to earn the best Quality Score.


Keywords are where the potential customer starts his journey to your site and service. Targeting the right keywords is key to search engine marketing. Build your keyword list to tightly fit the theme of the ad group. Developing and refining the keyword list is a constant requirement, and equally important is identifying negative keywords that can dilute the campaign effectiveness.

It’s the search marketer’s role to direct the right traffic to the site and to maximize the potential for conversion once on the site. Identify a list of keywords that have proven profitable to the site, maximize their potential, and continually test new keywords to locate new opportunities.

Landing Pages

Once you have set up the ad group and it’s centered on a tight theme, you’ll be able to decide where queries for those keywords will be directed on the site. There might already be a page on the site that would serve as a fitting landing page as is or with minor edits. Or, a new landing page may need to be created that is optimized for the keyword.

All landing pages should include a strong call to action, a usable design, and a persuasive messaging tactic that reflects the value proposition. Communicate to readers where they are and make clear the value of the potential conversion. Qualified post-click marketing best practices apply.

Ad Copy

With a well structured campaign, a strong set of targeted keywords and a landing page just waiting to convert visitors, a PPC marketer can begin to craft the element that connects these dots: the ad itself. Like the landing page, an ad should include relevant keywords and a strong call to action. It should also be crafted with principles of optimizing for the conversion funnel in mind. The consumer’s initial awareness, resulting interest, subsequent decision and following action can be considered in conjunction with proper keyword usage for the greatest overall effect.

When developing ad copy, an advertiser is working with limited space. Most search engine ads are made up of little more than a headline, a web address and a description. As you create ad copy, keep in mind the open opportunity to test new ad copy and keywords. Once an ad has attracted enough clicks, a search engine marketer will evaluate and analyze the keywords and ad copy, bringing the marketer full circle through the PPC hierarchy of needs.

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (3)
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3 Replies to “The PPC Hierarchy of Needs”

Great article !!! very useful for a PPC beginner

Hi Virginia,
Nice idea applying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with a PPC angle.
In terms of building a PPC campaign from the start, I think keywords, ads and landing pages are too closely linked to account structure to prioritize their relative importance.
But if your model is applied in terms of testing and optimisation (i.e. once the campaign is running and you’re looking at where to focus your time), I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your ordering of priorities.
Structure and keywords are definitely more important to get right than landing page and ad testing, and often find myself testing ads and landing pages only once I am happy with my account structure and keyword targeting.
Thanks for an original post.

Post is very informative. I did not work practically on PPC, but I have some theoretical knowledge of PPC. After reading the post I think that I am able to work on PPC.
Thanks a lot.


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