1. Business Ideas
  2. Business Plans
  3. Startup Basics
  4. Startup Funding
  5. Franchising
  6. Success Stories
  7. Entrepreneurs
  1. Sales & Marketing
  2. Finances
  3. Your Team
  4. Technology
  5. Social Media
  6. Security
  1. Get the Job
  2. Get Ahead
  3. Office Life
  4. Work-Life Balance
  5. Home Office
  1. Leadership
  2. Women in Business
  3. Managing
  4. Strategy
  5. Personal Growth
  1. HR Solutions
  2. Financial Solutions
  3. Marketing Solutions
  4. Security Solutions
  5. Retail Solutions
  6. SMB Solutions
Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.
Grow Your Business Technology

Pay-Per-Click 101: Tips and Tricks for Success

woman on tablet, pay-per-click
Credit: DGL images/Shutterstock

Pay-per-click (PPC) is an aggressive form of online advertising where you, as a marketer, pay for every click on an advertisement that leads a consumer to your business. Typically, you will make a bid for ad space with a publisher, the most common being major search engines. You bid how much you'll pay per click. There are also a few publishers who do flat-rate PPC advertising. In both cases, you only pay the publisher for the clicks. This is different from reach-based advertising, where you pay for the number of impressions (the number of unique visitors who see your ad).

By far the biggest and most popular PPC platform is Google AdWords, according to WordStream. Advertisers bid on keywords that are searched for in Google's search engine. The ads appear as sponsored search results, and you only pay Google AdWords whenever a user follows the ad. Whenever a user runs a search on Google, it runs an instant auction for what ads appear for that particular search result. It runs as part of its algorithm.

On the surface, it may sound simple, but to make your PPC ads worthwhile and have a positive effect on your business, there are several factors you'll need to take into account.

  • Keywords: You won't have to worry about paying for your ads to get clicked if consumers don't even see them because of poor keyword choices. PPC is very much tied to search engine optimization (SEO), so you'll need to bid for good keywords to even have a chance at being seen.
  • Ad copy: Even if you do get your ad seen, there's the next step of getting users to click on it. Ideally, your ad should tell the browser who you are and what you do, with a call to action. You have a limited number of characters to work with, so craft this message carefully.
  • Conversion: Finally, once a visitor clicks your ad and follows it to your website, it'll be up to you to turn that click into a conversion, whether that's getting the visitor to buy your product, subscribe to your service, or do anything else that results in profit or gain for your business.

You're going to need a whole lot of information to maximize the success of all of these steps. Data gathering is essential, as there isn't going to be a one-size-fits-all answer. Consumer attitudes and the ways they interact on the internet are constantly changing, so keeping consistent reports on what works and what doesn't for your PPC adverting is key to making it successful.

You'll need some comprehensive SEO data if you want your PPC ads to be seen. Track what keywords related to your business are working and aren't. Furthermore, study keywords that are unique to your business – ones that will make you stand out from your competition. This is how you increase your impressions on search engine results and other websites.

With the right analysis tools, you can determine which keywords are trending on Google, leading you to start campaigns on up-and-coming search terms. Furthermore, you need to find a balance between using valuable keywords and not spending too much on bidding for them. Reports that can identify unique keywords that aren't being bid on extensively is important.

There are several tools, both free and paid, that allow you to search for related keywords for your industry and inform you of their search volume on search engines.

  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner is a tool Google provides when you prepare your PPC ad. It provides you with information such as search volume, historical data and estimated clicks. Google provides this for free.
  • WordStream is PPC reporting and advising software that offers a free keyword tool to look up search volume for related keywords. WordStream ($2,928 per year) has several tools, some of which are free, to optimize your PPC success rate, including a Google AdWords analysis to grade your performance.
  • FreshKey is a keyword-ranking program that displays real-time data. The software allows you to test search results on different search engines and websites. This software costs $49.95.

PPC ads show up as search engine results, with a limited number of characters in the headline and the description, so you'll need to be creative to get people to click them without the aid of visuals. This step is again going to be up to what your audience responds to, so experimenting to see what works and what doesn't is key.

Reporting Ninja is a PPC reporting tool that gives you scheduled breakdowns of how well your PPC campaign is doing. It can integrate data from Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can split your campaign into different groups with different ad copy. Track what ads your audience responds to more, and you have a winner. Keep experimenting to further refine your ads.

Remember that PPC advertising should only be one branch of your advertising budget. Depending on how well your PPC is doing, as shown by comprehensive and accurate ROI reporting, adjust how much you funnel into your PPC advertising.

Calculating your ROI is just a simple formula, but both WordStream and Reporting Ninja have features to help you build a comprehensive ROI report by taking how much the ads cost to bid and the number of conversions and what profit that leads to.

PPC marketing is how advertisers are taking advantage of Google and social media networks' massive followings to reach audiences. PPC ads can be risky, but the payoffs can be huge if you equip yourself with fresh and relevant data to get your ads seen, clicked and converted to sales.