The next time you type a word or phrase into Google (or your favorite search engine) take note of the results that appear at the top of your screen. Typically you will see a shaded box with several listings for web sites. These listings may appear vertically on the right, as well. Companies pay for this prime real estate using pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns.

Why would they do this? With PPC advertising they can grab the attention of prospects who are searching for exactly what they offer. Couple that with the fact that most people will click-through on search results on the first page. Although it is true that fewer people click-through on PPC listings than on the organic search results just below them, they still have a solid click-through rate. Consider this. Would you rather be listed on page 5,321 or have a respectable click-through rate on page 1?

Pay-per-click advertising is a great way to get more traffic to your web site and makes sense to use in these situations:

  • When you launch a new website or have low search engine rankings. Good organic (natural) search engine rankings take time to build. If you can’t afford to wait to get your rankings up, complement your search engine optimization efforts with PPC.
  • If you are offering seasonal items or time-sensitive promotions that you want people to purchase now, PCC is a good option. That extra push during prime sales season offers an additional, focused, marketing opportunity.
  • If you are selling a product or service in a highly-competitive online market, it’s to your advantage to get buyers to your site and purchasing immediately. If you are competing against other online stores that are using PPC, it becomes a competitive necessity.
  • If you have a new campaign or new product, PPC is a great way to generate business quickly.

How PPC works
Companies pay to advertise, but are only charged a fee if someone actually clicks on their ad and connects to their web site. That’s why it is called pay-per-click. Companies “bid” on specific keywords or phrases that best describe their product or service. The cost of those keywords can vary dramatically. The more competition there is for a keyword, the more expensive it is. It is not unusual for PPC costs to range from $.40/click to $60/click. The good news is that you can set a limit as to how much you are willing to spend per day.
Here are some things to consider when setting up your PPC advertising.

  • Set a sensible budget
  • Define up-front quantifiable goals and a strategy for PPC
  • Research optimal keywords and key phrases – (Fortunately there are free tools available to help you determine the best keywords to use for your specific product or services.)
  • Bid strategically
  • Write compelling ads so that users will click on them. Ads have a limited character count, so every word matters. Provide an incentive to click, such as the mention of a discount or special offer. You should also include a call to action (Buy now! or Act Now!), and create a sense of urgency to encourage them to click immediately (Free shipping today!)
  • Provide an accurate, specific landing page on your website. This is where users are linked when they click on your ad. Make sure this page is highly related and relevant to your ad.
  • Monitor and manage your campaigns

What to measure
After you have launched your campaign, the key to your success is diligent and effective monitoring. Pay-per-click platforms provide a wealth of information and reports that analyze the effectiveness of your campaign. Take the time to review and analyze this free information!

  • Pay attention to how specific ads and keywords are performing and make changes accordingly. You may be making adjustments frequently.
  • A key measurement, Click-Through Rate (CTR), measures how many times your ad is clicked relative to the number of times it is shown. If the ad is not compelling, the CTR is low.
  • Measure your conversions. Every time a user comes to your site and takes your desired action, this is known as a conversion. You might want them to purchase a product, complete a sales inquiry form, download a white paper, or submit an email address, for example. Conversions are used as a way to gauge the success of your campaign.
  • Cost per conversion is another key metric. If you’re doing well with the above two metrics, then you’re probably keeping the cost of acquiring this business low. You need to continuously monitor and adjust your keywords and phrases, check for compelling ad copy, and bid right. It’s part science and part art!

Pay-per-click can play an important role in your online marketing strategy. As with any other marketing or advertizing initiative, PPC is just one piece of your overall marketing plan. It is an effective means to drive more traffic to your web site, with immediate results.