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What Is Pay Per Click (PPC)?

What Is Pay Per Click (PPC)?

You’ve diligently developed the right keywords. You’ve invested time in researching and writing content for a landing page, blog or eBook to align with those keywords. You publish it and, before long, it ranks at the top of search engine results! Still, you’re disappointed. Even angry. You feel

You’ve diligently developed the right keywords. You’ve invested time in researching and writing content for a landing page, blog or eBook to align with those keywords. You publish it and, before long, it ranks at the top of search engine results!

Still, you’re disappointed. Even angry. You feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.

Though your site is ranking high for the keywords you researched, links to your competitors’ sites sit even higher on the page. There are actually four of them listed there, followed by a map of all the firms in your chosen category, as well as images and links to buy from your rivals on the side of the page.

The difference here is that those links to your competitors all have the word “Ad” next to them, and they’re pushing your link much farther down.

Let’s be clear here: you might have done everything right in terms of search engine optimization (SEO) to create organic interest in your company and its products and services. It’s never a wasted effort, and you will see results.

The problem is that sometimes, it’s just not enough to stay competitive from a marketing perspective.

Your rivals haven’t simply paid the search engine companies to get their sites to sit higher on the page. They’ve actually participated in a bidding process over the same keywords. Then, depending on the relevance and validity of their ads, they show up in a search. And every time someone clicks through, they pay the search engine.

This is the essence of pay per click (PPC) advertising, and it has become increasingly important to marketers as more of the “awareness” and “consideration” phases of the customer journey begin online.

On the plus side, there’s nothing technically stopping even the smallest businesses using PPC as a tool to compete with much larger firms. A well-designed PPC campaign could see emerging firms out-compete some of the best-known brands in the same industry or sector.

PPC does require you to allocate some of your marketing budget towards a campaign, though, and the process can seem complex until you’ve gotten a better understanding of how it works.

In order to ensure you achieve return on investment in PPC campaigns, you should always:

Avoid manual work where automation would work better

Do you have the time to test the keywords on which you want to bid? What about the time spent actually participating in the auctions? Then there’s the reporting to consider — there’s no point in running PPC ads if you’re not able to see how well they performed.

This is a full-time job for those who work for agencies that help big brands with their PPC campaigns. For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the more viable route is to use technology to take away the manual tasks.

With the right marketing automation platform, for example, a lot of the key steps in PPC campaigns can be done without a lot of human intervention. That means more time you can spend on analyzing the results and other aspects of your marketing strategy.

Commit to staying up to staying up-to-date with search engine features

Companies like Google are constantly fine-tuning the way PPC auctions work so they can provide a better service to the brands that depend on them.

Look for authoritative blogs, newsletters, podcasts and other resources that can help explain when new features or changes are introduced. Some will affect the likelihood of your PPC ads to convert those browsing online into customers. Others will offer opportunities to target specific kinds of terms, or how images will display with an ad.

These tools and features are designed to be accessible to anyone running a PPC campaign. That said, you should still expect to train yourself or anyone else on the marketing team who’s going to be involved in this area.

Build some room in your budget

There are some hard costs in marketing that don’t vary a lot, like the price of creating a video or having a freelance writer produce an eBook on your brand’s behalf. With PPC, though, you might decide you need to shift the level you’re investing in depending on what happens with your early campaigns.

Your initial set of keywords may not have been competitive from a pricing standpoint compared with long tail keywords you later realize are more important. If a campaign is particularly successful, you may also want to spend more to get even greater results. Not a lot of click-throughs? Maybe it’s time to dial it back for a bit.

The overall PPC budget you set aside will depend a lot on your company and its marketing needs, but have at least some flexibility so you can act on the data.

Keeping coming back to the customer experience

Ads are sometimes seen as an annoying interruption, but PPC proves there is one context in which people are usually glad to have them appear on their screen.

People want to find what they’re looking for as quickly as possible. If what they’re looking for is within the organic links of a search result, great. If it’s an ad closer to the top, that could be even better.

PPC ads, in other words, could enhance the customer experience by making it easier for people to discover your brand. That’s why, beyond the technical aspects, you should let your strategy be informed by what you study and learn about people’s search habits.

Make sure your PPC ads are optimized for mobile devices, since many of us are now doing searches on smartphones as often (or more often) than we do on a desktop.

Beyond having clear and compelling text in your ad, remember that human beings are always drawn to images. You’ll want to make sure you have PPC ads that take this into account, including video ads that could be more memorable than words alone.

Lastly, don’t bet the house on PPC ads from a marketing perspective. They can do wonders, but so can SEO, content marketing and many other tactics. Stay diversified in how you build your brand, and you’re bound to be more successful.

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