Throughout the life of your website, you’ll try a variety of methods to get your information, products or services in front of the eyes of the right people. You might start a blog (content marketing), create a Facebook business page (social media marketing) or tweak your keywords (search engine optimization). Another option that’s available to you is pay per click (PPC) advertising.
Opinions on this model tend to pretty polarized. While some companies have great success with it, others find it to be a tremendous waste of time and money. Knowing if PPC advertising is right for your business isn’t easy, and the fact is, you may not know until you try it out, but in this article, we’ll explore how it works and discuss some of its pros and cons. If you decide PPC is something you’re ready to tackle, we’ll let you know how to get started at the end.
What is PPC Advertising?
Even if you don’t know much about PPC advertising, you’ve probably seen it thousands of times before. Let’s say you want to build a website, but you’re not sure what programs are available or how to get started. You type “build a website” in the search bar. Your search results come up with a combination of organic listings (the sites your search engine believes are the closest match to what you’re looking for) and paid listings (the sites that are dishing out dollars to be there). You can tell the difference between the two because of where they’re located (at the top and right side of the page) and because they’re labeled “Ad.” These ads are examples of PPC advertising.
How Does PPC Advertising Work?
You would start by setting an overall budget for your PPC advertising – let’s say you begin with $50. To get your advertisement to appear in connection with specific keywords, you would have to “bid” on those words. The companies with the top bids get their advertisements shown along with the organic search results. If an internet user clicks on your ad, then you’re required to pay that amount. The price is subtracted from your budget total. Once your budget runs out, your ad stops running.
Advantages to PPC Advertising
- It has a quick and easy implantation – While SEO can take months, or even years, to display your website on page one of search results in connection with certain keywords, PPC advertising is capable of sending your link to the top overnight. Because you’re setting your own customized budget, and with no set minimum, it’s also easily affordable. With programs like Google Adwords and Bing Ads (we’ll talk more about these later), anyone can easily set up a campaign.
- It’s targeted to a specific audience – PPC advertising allows you to narrow down the audience that sees your ads by location, so you’re not wasting money promoting your New York City boutique to the good people of Portland, Oregon. You can target cities, regions and countries, or you have the option to advertise globally.
- You only pay for clicks – Most advertising models (TV commercials, billboards, radio advertisements) require you to pay for exposure, but with PPC ads, you can get exposure without having to actually pay anything at all. Just by bidding high enough on keywords, your ads will appear with organic listings, and only when an interested user clicks on the ad will you have to pay.
- It has measurable results – Unlike social media marketing, which can be a little tricky when it comes to identifying a return on investment (ROI), Google AdWords and Bing Ads offer a handful of analytical tools so that you’re able to keep track of what works and what doesn’t and then make better decisions about your budget.
Drawbacks of PPC Advertising
- Popular keywords are expensive – Unfortunately, individuals and small businesses may have some difficulty trying to compete with their competitors. Large corporations tend to have significantly higher budgets to spend on keywords – we’re talking thousands of dollars. In addition, if you’re promoting products and services in what’s already a crowded industry, bidding high enough to get your ads displayed could pose a challenge.
- Ads are easy to ignore – The point in time where the average person couldn’t tell the difference between an organic search result and a paid advertisement are long gone. Today’s internet users are well-aware that those first few listings at the top aren’t “real” search results, so you may find that your ads are often ignored.
- Clicks are not the same as customers – You may find that your ads get you all kinds of clicks, but while your budget is depleting, you have little to show for it. There are lots of reasons this might happen: You could have loyal customers who click on your ad instead of your organic listing, just because it’s closer to the top. Your competitors may click on your ad, just to dwindle a little bit of your budget. Someone may click your listing on accident. If you’re not careful about the keywords and locations you’re selecting, a number of people may click on your ad expecting one thing, and leaving your site when they find another. That’s why it’s important to manage your PPC campaign carefully.
- It won’t be perfect right away – While PPC advertising is quick and easy to set up and can deliver immediate results, finding the keyword and price combinations that work best for you probably won’t happen overnight. It may take months before you’re able to identify a strategy that converts the most clicks into customers, and even then, it will likely require change over time.
How To Get Started
If you think PPC advertising is something you may want to try, you can start by signing up with Google AdWords (provided by Google) or Bing Ads (offered by Yahoo! Bing). They are both free to use. Each of these services will provide you with a step-by-step guide and the tools you need to set up your first campaign.