The Basics of PPC Advertising

- Posted by Michael Townsend in

You have heard of pay-per-click advertising (PPC) before from peers and colleagues with some reviews being positive and others being very negative. Read on for our brief introduction into the basics of PPC marketing.

What is PPC?

PPC is a form of advertising where you bid on certain keywords to appear on the first page of Google (assuming your maximum bid is competitive enough). Adverts are displayed at the top on the search results page and along the right hand side. When a customer clicks on these targeted adverts the advertiser is charged for this single click - if no one clicks on your advert then you don’t pay anything.

How Will it Benefit My Business?

Pay per click advertising is a pro-active and measurable way of getting your business infront of a targeted audience immediately. How PPC advertising differs from SEO is that you can start to see results almost instantly. As soon as you activate your adwords campaign your adverts will be visible to your customers. SEO can deliver lots of targeted traffic to your website but it takes longer to gain traction in the search engines and as a result the benefits take around 3-6 months to become noticeable. PPC will give you brand visibility instantly.

Who Uses PPC Advertising?

Recent research from the IAB revealed that PPC ad spend in the United Kingdom last year was £3.49bn and recent surveys show that 72% of marketers are looking to increase their PPC spend in 2014. If your business isn’t in a prominent space one page one of the search rankings, whether that is through PPC or SEO, your business will be missing out on large numbers of potential customers.

What are the Main PPC Advertising Platforms?

When people talk about pay per click advertising they are typically referring to Googles Adwords system. And with good reason as the search giant continue to dominate the search engine space. There are however several other platforms that offer pay per click advertising.

Facebook Ads

LinkedIn Ads

Bing Ads

Each of these platforms operate on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis - this means you only pay when a customer clicks on your advert. If your advert is shown to users and they don’t interact with it then you wont pay anything for that impression. Other methods such as cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) are available on some platforms but the most used model is CPC.

PPC Isn’t Just Text Adverts

As you would expect from a marketing platform, the technology has developed and evolved a great deal in recent years. Google has introduced many innovative features that has increased the capability of its pay-per-click platform.

Google Shopping

Google shopping and product listing ads have been driving higher click through rates for several years. These adverts feature a thumbnail image, price and website link. The reason that these types of adverts drive higher click through rates is that customers can see if they product being show to them is the correct one. If it meets their search needs then they will click the advert and visit your website. In our example below the search term ‘plasma tv’ brings up product ads from the likes of Currys, Tesco and Argos.

Google Video Ads

Online videos have exploded in the last few years thanks to the popularity of YouTube and our ability to share these videos across social media platforms. Google gives us a way to drive traffic through to your website with engaging video content. You only pay when a viewer views your video and it allows you to reach a highly targeted audience.


PPC advertising should be an essential part of your marketing strategy. Think of it like this - if you aren’t bidding on your key products and services then you can guarantee your competitors will be. They will be acquiring and converting hundreds of qualified and motivated customers looking to purchase goods and services.

Download the Square Social guide to PPC advertising below to find out more.

Michael Townsend

Michael Townsend is the Search Director at Square Social a leading SEO company offering a range of small business SEO & PPC packages.