When searching for something online via search engine, the main results you see are obtained freely. These are known as the ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ search results.
Ranking well for your keywords in organic results is the realm of SEO. It takes time and carefully planned effort to top the natural results.
Pay-Per-Click advertising (PPC) can place you right up front immediately for the keywords you choose, but with a cost each time someone clicks on your ad.
Such advertisements are called sponsored links or sponsored ads, and appear adjacent to or above the organic results on search engine results pages, or anywhere a web developer chooses on a content site. You have seen these as the first three results or on the right side of the page when you search in Google.
In PPC advertising, you create a small ad, choose your keywords and where you want the ad to appear, then pay only when your ad is clicked. Cost per click varies based on keyword(s) and placing. PPC advertising can produce immediate results and it can be used as a tool to test keywords, but can also be tricky and the learning curve can get expensive.
Types of Pay Per Click
- Flat-Rate PPC – A business and an ad-publisher agree upon a fixed amount that will be paid for each click. This model is easier when budgeting, because you know the amount per each click and can determine how many clicks you want to pay for.
- Bid-Based PPC Model – A business signs a contract that allows them to compete against other businesses in a private auction for a fixed amount of “clicks” hosted by a publisher or, more commonly, an advertising network. Each business informs the host of the maximum amount that he is willing to pay for a given ad spot (often based on a keyword), usually using online tools to do so. The auction plays out in an automated fashion every time a visitor triggers the ad spot. This model makes budgeting slightly more difficult and less predictable, but can be very effective, and at times saves money. Most large PPC providers use this model.
- Cost-Per-Impression (CPM) – This is a flat-rate type of advertising where you are charged a single rate based upon the amount of impressions. Usually set up as a cost per thousand impressions, this is similar to a radio or tv advertising format. It can effective in creating company awareness.
Some of the most popular (and effective) PPC programs are Google AdWords, Facebook Advertising, Yahoo Search Marketing, YouTube Advertising, Microsoft adCenter, and Amazon Product Ads. They all operate under a bid-based model but have some distinct differences.
How can PPC work for you?
Pay Per Click advertising can be an effective way to target customers, though the cost per ad can be a deterrent if the keywords are very competitive, and therefore expensive. While it is often more effective to show up in the organic results and to market through social media, PPC is a great way to increase online visibility and new prospects.
The following three items should always be accounted for in every PPC campaign:
- Keyword Research: It is absolutely vital to research the proper keywords before beginning a PPC campaign. Two of the best tools to do this are Market Samurai, and the Google Keyword Tool.
- Well Chosen Ad Copy: The copy used in your PPC campaign should attract, inform and covert visitor into a buyers. Testing the copy you use in the ads is essential for an effective campaign.
- Campaign Management: Every business is unique and therefore requires special attention. It is necessary to find and bid on keywords that will help in accelerating the business activity with the lowest cost per click. This also includes tracking the ROI through careful analysis of keywords used, time and day of ad exposure, and number of impressions per click.
Has your business used PPC in the past? What were the results?