What Is PPC? Why Should You Do PPC? How Do You Do It?

What is PPC? Why should you do PPC? And how do you do PPC? I’ll help answer these basic questions so you can figure out if this advertising strategy is right for you.

Start with this question: Do you believe that Google is in the business of making money? The obvious answer is YES! So it is vital that you pay attention to the what, why and how of PPC.

Google search PPC ads.

What Is PPC?

PPC, or pay per click, is a method of online advertising in which advertisers pay for each time a person clicks on their ad. Simply put, the search engine or other platform gets paid only when it sends traffic to an advertiser’s website via someone clicking an ad.

Google continues to be the most popular venue to buy PPC ad space, followed closely by Facebook. Together, they make up the majority (over 60%) of digital advertising dollars spent in the U.S., with Amazon in third place but increasing.


Google, Facebook and Amazon percentages of US digital ad spending.
Source: eMarketer estimates as of October 2019

Search engines earn the lion’s share of their revenue from ads. For instance, Google gets an estimated 83 percent of its revenue from advertisers who buy space in its ad network.

In the search results, you can find PPC ads in many places. Google points out that:

Ads can appear above or below search results on Google Search. They can appear beside, above, or below search results on Google Play, Google Shopping, and Google Maps, including the Maps app.

Ads displayed in Google SERP.

Keep in mind: Google has been known to rehaul the layout of the SERP completely, including how ads are displayed. It’s also not uncommon for ad displays to change based on the search query of the user.

PPC ads like those that show up on the search results page are just one type in many ad types available to businesses. Some other types include:

  • Native advertising
  • Display ads
  • Social ads
  • Retargeting and remarketing ads
  • Local Search ads
  • YouTube ads
  • Google Shopping ads

Why Should I Do PPC?

Pay-per-click advertising can drive sales, leads, traffic, brand awareness and marketing campaign support.

If you’re thinking about digital ads, you’re in good company: U.S. digital ad spend topped $129 billion in 2019, with the highest spending in the search marketing category.


Digital ad spending chart per Statista.
Statista estimates as of March 2020

While COVID’s impact on digital advertising is still unclear, ad spending will continue growing each year.

Pay per click is a great complement to other marketing efforts like SEO. Here are a couple of reasons why PPC and SEO work well together.

First, PPC and SEO together are part of a whole-SERP strategy.

You should maximize visibility on a search engine results page (SERP) with a whole-SERP strategy, and that includes ads. A whole-SERP strategy also takes into account which content will satisfy a user’s intent (what they are looking for when they type a query into Google). Ads satisfy queries with the intent to buy.

Second, PPC can offer instant gratification, while SEO is a long-term strategy.

PPC can support shorter-term needs and specific business goals (for example, branding or lead generation). SEO is a longer-term strategy that can be progressing in the background. Meanwhile, PPC can deliver initial results while SEO gains momentum over a period of months.

Aside from SEO campaign support, consider some of these PPC advertising stats:

  • About 65 percent (64.6 percent) of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online. (WordStream)
  • Seventy-five percent of people say paid search ads help them find the information they’re searching for on a website or search engine. And 33 percent click on a paid search ad because it directly answers their search query. (Clutch)
  • The top three ad spots for a commercial query take 41 percent of the clicks on a page. (WordStream)
  • Businesses generally make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads. (Google)

How Do I Do PPC?

Here are five major steps to consider in a PPC campaign.

1. Focus on the major PPC network providers.

Google is the leader in search advertising, though Bing may be more appropriate for certain demographics.

2. Aim for good PPC quality scores.

Google explains what goes into an advertiser’s quality score and why it matters:

Quality Score is an estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing pages. Higher quality ads can lead to lower prices and better ad positions.

3. Audit existing PPC campaigns.

Every business that is advertising can benefit from ongoing tune-ups. This can make accounts perform better and save tons of money.

Right now, it’s especially important to reevaluate your search ad strategies. Make sure that your geotargeting and other settings still apply and that your messaging fits with the current situation.

4. Monitor results.

Watch your PPC results. Make changes on an ongoing basis to enhance account performance.


5. Research new and emerging strategies.

Things are always changing in PPC. Stay on top of trends and opportunities for enhancements in your campaigns.

PPC management can be a full-time job that requires specific expertise. So businesses that are considering it should also consider hiring a consultant or agency.

Checklists from Google and others (like the one I’m about to share) can be overly simplified when it comes to the complexities of succeeding in PPC. However, in general, here are some of the steps in running a healthy PPC campaign:

  1. Define your campaign strategy.
  2. Perform keyword research and select the right keywords.
  3. Create ad copy and messaging.
  4. Create or identify landing pages on your site for the ad to take searchers to.
  5. Implement campaign conversion tracking.
  6. Submit ads to the networks for approval.
  7. Establish and track PPC account settings.
  8. Watch and adjust PPC bids for ROI.
  9. Use the right PPC tools to optimize things like cost per acquisition.
  10. Identify irrelevant keywords and add them to negative keyword lists to prevent wasted clicks.
  11. Perform monthly analyses to identify performance trends.
  12. Make changes based on performance trends.
  13. Always test and optimize your ad copy.
  14. Know which PPC keywords you’re ranking for organically. For example, if you already rank No. 1 for a keyword, you may want to put your limited PPC budget elsewhere.
  15. Create and define audience lists (used in remarketing, for instance) for better targeting.
  16. Do a competitive landscape analysis. Identify keywords you might bid on on to ensure maximum impression share for your business.
  17. (For ecommerce) Set up Google Shopping ad campaigns.

And above all: Focus on generating more-targeted, less costly, and converting traffic.

PPC: The Bottom Line

In sum, PPC is a form of online advertising in which advertisers pay each time a person clicks on their ad. Companies do pay-per-click advertising to drive sales, leads, traffic, brand awareness and marketing campaign support.

PPC management can be a big job that requires the expertise of an agency or consultant to get the best results. But you can get a sense of what’s required by following the steps outlined in this article. It is complex and takes time to master so assume there is a serious investment besides the cost of the ads.

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you increase your targeted PPC traffic, conversions and revenue, contact us for a no-obligation quote.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay, Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn and other social networks from Bruce's author page.
Comments (6)
Filed under: Paid Search/Online Ads — Tags:

6 Replies to “What Is PPC? Why Should You Do PPC? How Do You Do It?”

i think ppc is best way to gain traffic and generate leads to your website instantly, Seo takes some time to show result but ppc is the fastest way to get leads.

You’re come up with an awesome bucket list for newbies as it can be frustrating for beginners to know what to focus on. What an encouragement this list is for someone starting out to be able to follow step-by-step. Excellent information you provide about Pay Per Click, so thanks for putting out top-notch content all the time.

Thanks for sharing this insightful info, Bruce! I am new to PPC and learner every day, thanks for your help with this article.

Paula Allen

Tom, thanks for reading! There’s a lot to learn along the way to making search advertising effective.

Very useful insights you have put here. Useful post for the PPC expert and learner. Thanks for sharing it that’s truly valuable knowledge about a similar topic. Amazing. Have a more successful day.

A lot of useful information here, thx. Bruce!

LEAVE A REPLY

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Serving North America based in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area
Bruce Clay, Inc. | 2245 First St., Suite 101 | Simi Valley, CA 93065
Voice: 1-805-517-1900 | Toll Free: 1-866-517-1900 | Fax: 1-805-517-1919