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You may have heard the term “PPC” in the context of online marketing without fully understanding its meaning. If so, here is a quick PPC explainer that covers how the model works and summarises its strengths and disadvantages.

PPC in a nutshell

An acronym for Pay-Per-Click, PPC is one of the key ways businesses with an online presence market themselves using search engines. In essence, PPC is a way of purchasing visits to a website; giving a business more chance of conversions such as sales or newsletter sign-ups.

How PPC works

The first step an advertiser takes when using the PPC model is to set up their ads on an advertising platform like Google AdWords. Having done this, they select relevant search engine keywords to trigger those ads, before lodging bids with the platform to determine how far up the results page the ads will appear. Each time an ad is clicked on, the business will pay a small fee to the search engine, and hopefully make a conversion.

Not just an auction

Outbidding rivals will typically get an advertiser to the top of the pile using PPC; but in cases where bids are matched, search engines use other criteria to determine rankings. Not only must a business select the best keywords, it must organise them into ad groups and also set up relevant and informative PPC landing pages. The better targeted a PPC campaign; and by extension the more relevant and informative it is for the user – the less a search engine charges per ad click. Therefore, like any traditional marketing campaign, PPC requires careful research and strategising prior to launch.

Advantages of PPC

The Pay-Per-Click model allows for a very targeted online campaign. Advertisers can target specific locations, devices, keywords and more. It is also potentially better value than other models as clicks are worth more to a business than impressions. A well-structured PPC campaign can deliver more traffic to a site for lower investment; and it’s easier with PPC to track the average cost per conversion.

Downsides PPC

The online marketplace is highly competitive and quick to evolve. Should bids for the position be matched, advertising platforms like AdWords will look at factors such as quality scores (based on, for example, users’ landing page experiences) and ad extensions (extra information next to the ad messaging like callouts or site-links). With all this taken into account; and competitors regularly launching new campaigns, PPC strategies need constant maintenance and adjustment in order for ads to hold their position and optimise their conversions.

As long as an advertiser reviews and adapts their PPC strategy; it can prove a very effective tool for growing their business through online marketing.