Pay per click advertising
What is pay per click (PPC) advertising?
Pay per click advertising is a way of showing your advert on the internet. Your advert is shown on a search engine when someone searches for keywords relevant to your business.1
You only pay for the advert when someone clicks on it to visit your website. ((You can pay for each appearance if you want. Don’t worry about that just yet.)) In the UK, Google (of course) dominates PPC advertising through Google Adwords.
But who clicks on the adverts?
As a percentage of the number of people who use the internet, not many.2 But that’s still a huge number of people. Enough to make a difference to your business.
Why should I be interested?
Because, if you are advertising on a search engine, it makes your business known and accessible to people at the moment they are looking to buy the products or services you offer.
And, the link between the money you spend on your advert and the revenue (or downloads, or enquiries) it generates is easier to see than it is with other forms of advertising. When someone clicks on your ad you can see what they then do on your website. It removes uncertainty. If your PPC campaign isn’t working you can stop it immediately.
How much does it cost?
How much do you want to spend? There is no minimum fee.
You set a maximum amount you want to ‘bid’ for each keyword – that is how much you are willing to pay every time someone clicks on your advert – and a maximum amount you want to spend on all your keywords per day. The more you are willing to spend, the higher on the page your advert is likely to appear. (I say ‘likely’ because Google gives each advert a quality score – a rating of how relevant it thinks the advert is to the keyword – and this is taken into consideration as well. Your advert can be higher on the page than another advert with a higher maximum bid because your advert has a higher quality score.)
The global average cost for each click on a Google advert was, apparently, around 90p. 3 This can vary widely depending on the amount of competition and potential value of the keywords you are bidding on. For example ‘computers’ is going to be more expensive than ‘laptop repairs sheffield’.
Wouldn’t I be better off spending my budget on search engine optimisation (SEO) to get to the top of Google’s free (organic) listings?
Good question. 4 Broadly, Adwords is fast, simple and under your control. SEO is slower, more complex and your control is more remote.5 Adwords can have lower initial costs and faster returns but SEO will, if it works, provide the best return on your investment.
If it’s a choice between Adwords or SEO, and you have the time and budget, go for SEO. Many businesses use both. Adwords may not be the ideal but it has its uses and can be profitable for your business.
Give me some examples of when I might use Adwords
- When it’s going to take a while for your website to appear on the search results first page, for example, when you have a new website. (Adwords can be stopped when your website does appear.)
- When you can only optimise for a limited number of keywords, perhaps because of time or budget.
- When you’d like to have a time-specific event advertised, e.g. a sale.
- When you’ve trialled Adwords and it clearly works. For example, your adverts directly generate revenue on your online shop.
- When the competition for your keywords at the top of the free search results is very high making it unlikely that your website will gain a good position.
- When you want to research the effectiveness of keywords before you pay to optimise for them.
- When you want to increase your profile or brand awareness.6
- When you are a charity and qualify for free advertising through Google grants.
So what voodoo do you do?
I have managed successful Google Adwords pay per click campaigns for over 7 years. I know from experience that application of knowledge and time can make a dramatic difference to a campaign’s performance.
The theory is not complicated but it does pay to understand the range of options available, to work on ad copy and testing, and to spend time analysing and optimising.
How will I know that what you’re doing is working?
Because Adwords is completely trackable. I can keep you fully informed of the performance of your pay per click campaign, including how individual keywords are performing. This may include information that could help in other areas of marketing. More than that, you should be able to tell by the increase in the number of leads Adwords generates.
But isn’t paying you going to add more cost?
Yes, but there would be no point me offering this service if it didn’t ‘pay for itself’ (and I’m not going to take on work if I don’t think this is likely to be the case). Once your Adwords campaign is running successfully it should continue to do so without my input, although regular ‘servicing’ is recommended.
Anything else I should be aware of?
Adjusting your Adwords campaign may not be enough in itself. You may need to make changes to your website to improve your campaign’s effectiveness and/or reduce the amount you are spending.
Google calculates the amount you pay per click and the position of your advert on the page using a combination of how much all the advertisers for that keyword are willing to pay and how relevant it thinks each advert is. It decides which is most relevant by examining the advert’s text and the content of the page on the website it links to. For example, if you advertise on ‘birdwatching holidays in Belgium’ and your advert links to a page about exactly that, your advert will be rated as more relevant than a competitor’s ad which links to a page just about holidays in Belgium. You might both have a maximum bid of 90p for the advert but your ad will appear higher up the page than your competitor’s and you might be paying less for the click as well.
If you want to explore further, or set up an account, have a look at this overview and setup guide.
- It also applies to advertising on websites but I wouldn’t, unless you know what you’re doing.
- Google thinks 1 click for each 100 appearances of the advert is a good return.
- This is the only mention of an actual figure I could find, for Q1 of 2013 link
- Have a look through the comments after this article, for a discussion about this.
- Google makes the rules. No one is quite sure what the rules are. You can follow the guidelines and SEO experts’ advice but you are in Google’s hands.
- You can pay for your ad per appearance (not per click) but you need a good reason for doing this.