Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is the fastest growing and most effective way to drive huge number of visitors to a website. PPC is also responsible largely for the Internet as we know it today. However, very few people understand how it works, or why it powers the Internet, so let’s take a quick crash course in PPC and explain how it can help some businesses.
What Is PPC?
PPC is a form of banner or text advertising whereby the advertiser only pays when somebody clicks on their advert. In the early days of the web, the main type of advertising offered was either CPM (cost per thousand impressions), or more often, just an agreement between a publisher and advertiser to display an image or text advert on a monthly basis, which is known as “direct advertising” today.
Google launched its own PPC platform, AdWords, in 2000. When it launched only 350 advertisers were invited to use the system, but today, over a million advertisers use it. This is great news for Google, as AdWords generates tens of billions in revenue, and is the reason Google has been able to develop so many products and services. Without AdWords, Google would have probably never won the search market from Yahoo! and Bing. While there are several other PPC systems available, such as Facebook ads, we focus on Google’s AdWords.
How Does It Work?
The AdWords system is rather complex, but in a nutshell, you tell Google which keyword search phrases you would like your advert to appear for, set a bid price, and compete with other sites on those keywords. There are various other factors such as Quality Score and device targeting which will affect where your ads appear, but the key is picking keywords and setting a price and daily budget.
Once your ads are live, you get charged a fee whenever somebody clicks the ad. Rather than paying a fixed fee, you will always pay an amount that allows you to beat your competitors – therefore if you are targeting non-competitive keywords, you pay less. When managed well, this is much more effective than using banner ads.
Where Do AdWords Ads Appear?
AdWords are displayed in two main locations: Google Search results and publisher pages. The ads in the Google search results are the ones that most businesses actively compete on, because searchers are most engaged at this point. But ads are also shown on many publisher sites – you will often see them at the top of pages, in the sidebar and within the content itself. Ads can appear as links, text adverts and images. Ads are also shown in Gmail and on some Google apps.
Most businesses focus on showing ads in the search results, but Google has recently started allowing publishers to display more ad blocks on their web pages, so it is possible that in the near future, advertising on websites will become even more popular.
Advantages of AdWords in Search
As already touched upon, the biggest advantage of showing your AdWords ads in the Google search results is that you can capture customers at a time when they are looking for your product. For example, if somebody searches for “accountants in Essex”, and you are targeting that term, then they will most likely see your ad below the search box, and above the local and organic listings. With a well written title and description, you can almost guarantee that they will click through to your site.
However, bid prices on the search ads do tend to be much higher, so focusing entirely on search can quickly burn through your budget.
Advantages of the Publisher Network
Allowing your ads to appear on websites is a great way to display relevant ads to engaged readers. It can also help to keep your costs down. The value of the advert to your business depends largely on the content on the page. Ideally, you want your ads to appear on pages that provide some useful information about a product or service, but leave the reader wanting to know more. Using retargeting also allows you to display your ads to people who have recently visited your website – this is a great way to persuade customers to return.
What To Advertise
This sounds like an obvious question – surely your homepage is best? In fact, the best pages to advertise are your product pages. Getting a click is just the first step – after you have won somebody’s attention, you need to quickly engage them and convert them into a customer.
While some sites find that linking direct to product pages works best, others have found that linking to blog posts or reviews are better. In fact, we are aware of one software provider who discovered through their Analytics reports that an independent review of their product was converting more readers than their own landing pages, so they starting paying AdWords to deliver more traffic to the review page. It’s what you might call a win-win situation – the business got more for their advertising as they and had a much higher ROI, and the publisher earned significantly more money through AdSense (that one review page kept the blog in profit for several years).
Who Can Advertise?
This is where it gets a little trickier. All in all, most businesses in the UK can advertise on AdWords. The main businesses that cannot are adult services, sellers of alcohol and copyrighted content. In the UK, gambling is allowed under certain conditions. Some healthcare and medicine is restricted also.
Some businesses are allowed, but need to be careful – financial services is the best example of this. In general, so long as adverts are related to the management and investment of money, it is OK. Specific disclosures are also required to comply with local advertising law. Google provide more on this here.
We already manage PPC adverts for a wide range of business, such as property investment, mortgage loans, pension advice, building supplies, conservatory installers, estate agents, label manufacturers, and law firms.
PPC is the fastest way to get your business seen by thousands of engages Internet users, so if you want to increase your advertising ROI, contact a Freelance PPC manager today.