A Step-by-Step PPC Guide for Beginners

A Step-by-Step PPC Guide for Beginners
Article by Bisera Stankovska
Last Updated: May 14, 2022

Interested in learning how to do PPC correctly?

If you’re somewhat new to digital marketing, you might have heard about a concept called pay-per-click advertising.

But what is PPC exactly?

To reap the benefits of this marketing tactic, you first need to know what it actually is and how it works.

In this PPC guide, we explain the basics of PPC, including the benefits and how to develop a pay-per-click strategy.

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What Is PPC?

PPC stands for pay-per-click and it refers to an advertising model in which you pay a fee every time a user clicks on your ad.

Pay-per-click ads are placed on PPC platforms or search engines such as Google. Your ad is placed at the top of organic results. When someone clicks on your ad, you pay a fee to the platform host.

How Does PPC Work?

Search engines such as Google or Microsoft Bing allow businesses to display relevant ads on their platforms.

But how does it work exactly?

When you use pay-per-click advertising, you’re actually competing for ad space with other advertisers/competitors. You all place bids/set a maximum amount you’re willing to pay if someone clicks on your ad.

This is called PPC bidding where you bid on keywords or keyword groups to increase the chances that your ad will be displayed when a user searches for those terms.

Every time a user enters a search term looking for information about a service or product, a PPC auction takes place.

An ad auction is when Google or another PPC platform determines if your ad is eligible to appear at the top of search results for a query. The platform considers your ad’s relevance as well as the amount you’re willing to pay for a click.

For example, let’s say you bid on “delivery restaurants” along with a group of related keywords.

When a user searches for one of those terms, such as “delivery restaurants near me,” your ad will appear at the top of the organic search results if it’s eligible.

The ad that appears in SERP must match the user query or be related to qualify.

If your ad appears in the search engine results, that means you have won the auction.

Benefits of PPC Advertising

Paid search advertising can help your business in many ways even if you don’t have extensive digital marketing knowledge or a large ad spend budget.

The benefits of PPC include:

Fast Results

While a regular SEO campaign can take months to produce results and increase your search engine rankings, PPC delivers results faster.

The beauty of PPC ads is that this marketing strategy can place your business at the top of the search results instantly, without waiting for direct traffic to your website.

If you don’t have the time to wait for the results of your SEO strategy, using PPC is a great way to get more exposure and leads.

Budget Control

Pay-per-click campaigns let you control how much you spend. You set a maximum amount you’re willing to pay when someone clicks on your ad and you can set a daily budget too. When you meet your daily budget, Google will stop showing your ad after that, so you don’t spend more than you planned.

Also, with PPC ads, you only pay when a user clicks on your ad.

Easy Tracking

Tracking your campaign and measuring the results is very easy with PPC. For example, if you use Google Ads, you can track results with Google Analytics.

You can track impressions, number of clicks, conversions or whatever other PPC KPIs you have set for your campaign in order to gain insights into what’s working and what needs to be tweaked to generate better results.

Improved SEO

Not only does PPC deliver results much faster than search engine optimization efforts, it also aids your SEO strategy.

How so?

When you set up a PPC strategy, it doesn’t take long to see which keywords are driving more traffic so you can spend your ad budget wisely.

You can use these insights to optimize your SEO efforts and drive results.

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How To Develop Your PPC Strategy

Now that know how PPC works and what your business can gain from it, you can start crafting your own PPC strategy using our PPC guide.

When planning how to develop a PPC strategy, keep in mind there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for a fruitful campaign. In this PPC guide, we list the most important steps when developing your paid search advertising strategy:

Define Your Goals

Define the specific goals you want to achieve with your PPC campaign. These might include:

  • Increasing sales
  • Boosting conversions
  • Improving lead generation
  • Increasing website traffic
  • Building brand awareness

Your goals don’t necessarily need to include all of the above. Take some time to determine your goals before you set up your PPC campaign.

Define Your KPIs

Once you have determined the goals you want to achieve, define your key performance indicators or PPC KPIs. Depending on your goals, you might track some or all of the following KPIs:

  • Impressions share
  • Conversion rate
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Return on ad spend
  • Click-through rate
  • Quality score

Tracking the right metrics is important for PPC reporting and PPC campaign optimization because it shows how effective your ads are and whether you should adjust your keywords, landing page, or another part of your campaign.

For example, if a keyword isn’t performing well, you can test other related keywords to see if they perform better. Another example is if you have a solid click-through-rate but users leave your website immediately, you may need to better optimize it to provide what users expect to see on your website.

Decide On a Budget

Before you set up a PPC campaign, you need to decide exactly how much you want to spend on the campaign. Since you pay a fee every time someone clicks on your ad, you can set a daily maximum budget so when the target is met, PPC platforms will stop showing your ad.

Conduct Keyword Research

Keywords are crucial for paid search advertising just as they are for SEO. It’s all about using the right terms to rank for.

When thinking about how to choose keywords for your PPC campaign, think about your customers.

You need to identify the terms that your potential customers interested in your product or service are likely to use. You also want to see which keywords your competitors are using.

When conducting keyword research, prioritize those with high search volume because that means a lot of people have an interest in them/search for those terms.

However, the more popular keywords are the more expensive it is to bid on them. High search volume keywords tend to have a higher cost-per-click compared to low-search volume keywords.

On the other hand, if you choose to target low-search volume keywords, you can test various keywords without draining your ad budget.

If you have a tight PPC budget, you might want to avoid bidding on high-search volume keywords. Instead, you can bid on similar, long-tail keywords that are more specific and carry a lower cost per click.

Once you’re done researching keywords, organize them in PPC ad groups. A PPC ad group is a group of ads that target the same set of keywords. These keyword groups tell the search engine when to show your ad.

Your PPC campaign can consist of one or more ad groups.

Create And Optimize Your Landing Pages

Create landing pages for your PPC ads. Before you set up a pay-per-click campaign, you need to ensure that your website and your landing pages are well optimized.

What does that mean exactly?

Your ad as well as the keywords you chose need to be relevant to your landing page(s). When clicking on your ad, a user expects to find content relevant to their search. If they don’t, they leave the page immediately, which leads to high bounce rates.

This means that your ad messaging should match the copy on your landing page. For example, if your ad says “Affordable windows,” the landing page it takes the user to should display a similar headline and message. Ensure the copy is benefit-driven and concise.

There should be a clearly visible and specific CTA too leading the user to complete an action without wasting time trying to navigate your website.

The quality of the landing page and relevancy of the keywords both affect your quality score.

What is quality score exactly?

Google’s Quality Score is a tool that rates the quality of your PPC ads and the keywords you’re targeting. It shows how well you’re doing compared to other advertisers so you can tweak your PPC strategy accordingly.

The higher your quality score, the lower the cost per conversion. The cost per conversion is the amount you pay when a user converts or completes an action you want them to complete, whether it’s a purchase or signing up for free trial.

Aside from landing page and keyword relevance, click-through-rate (CTR) also affects quality score.

Decide On a Bidding Strategy

A bidding strategy defines how your money is used when displaying your ads.

There are a variety of bidding strategies for pay-per-click campaigns but not all of them might be suitable for your business.

You can choose between manual or automated bidding, depending on your experience, your budget and your goals. Automated bidding is more convenient as it saves time. Some of the automated bidding strategies include:

  • Cost per click: You pay for every click on your ad
  • Cost per mille: Cost per thousand impressions
  • Cost per acquisition: You only pay if someone clicks on your ad and completes a conversion

Choose a PPC bidding strategy according to your campaign, the keywords you’re targeting, the platform you’re using, and your goals.

For example, if you’re looking to get more website traffic, you might choose the cost-per-click strategy.

Test Your Ads

After you create a PPC strategy, you need to test your ads before running them. This is where A/B testing comes in.

In A/B testing, you run two almost the same versions of a paid ad but with one different element. This can be a headline, CTA or ad copy.

Test your ads so you can see which versions perform better and make tweaks as needed.

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PPC Best Practices

Our PPC guide wouldn’t be complete without best practices. Best practices for PPC campaigns will help you set up a successful campaign and maximize your return on investment.

Factor In Ad Targeting and Retargeting

Being aware of your audience’s pain points and interests is vital for a successful PPC campaign.

This is what ad targeting and retargeting are all about.

Targeting defines who you are speaking to and what problems you’re solving so you can create content that targets a particular group.

Retargeting is shaping your ads to target users who have already interacted with your website in some way, from completing a form to putting an item in the shopping cart.

Craft Your Ad Copy Carefully

Once you know your audience’s pain points, craft your copy to address the problem and grab your audience’s attention.

Since ad copy is very limited, you need to focus on the benefit and be as clear as possible. Make sure that you use the keyword you’re trying to rank for and ensure the language and messaging is consistent with your landing page copy.

Use Numbers In Your Ads

Numbers grab users’ attention as they can help provide certainty so using them in your paid ads can increase the click-through rate.

People tend to trust numbers and using them can help boost your authority as a trusted source of information.

Track Ad Performance and Make Adjustments

Once you set your PPC campaign, don’t just forget about it. Track ad performance and make adjustments as needed.

For example, if you notice that a keyword isn’t performing well, you can apply it as a negative keyword to block your ad from displaying for irrelevant searches that won’t lead to any clicks. A negative keyword is a keyword you don’t want to rank. When a user searches for that term, your ad won’t appear.

PPC Guide Takeaways

Regardless of the size of your business, paid search advertising can bring many benefits, such as:

  • Fast results
  • Budget control
  • Easy tracking
  • Improved SEO

However, to set up a successful paid ad campaign, you need to define your goals and budget, conduct keyword research, create and optimize your landing pages, choose a bidding strategy, test your ads and apply the best practices outlined in this PPC guide to drive results and make your investment worthwhile.

Optimizing your landing pages, ensuring keyword relevancy and tracking your ad performance will help you adjust your PPC campaign and increase/decrease bids based on ad success.

Outsourcing the services of some of the best PPC companies as well as Google Adwords agencies can help you with this.

We hope our comprehensive PPC guide helped you get familiar with the why and how behind pay-per-click. Best of luck on your campaign!

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