How Does Google PPC Advertising Work?
A Brief Guide for Complete Beginners
With more businesses online than ever before, increased competition is to be expected. So, whether you are a new business looking to establish a digital presence or an established one looking to grow, pay per click (PPC) advertising is certainly something to consider.
What is PPC advertising?
PPC advertising is an online marketing model whereby businesses pay a price for each click their advertisement receives.
These adverts can be placed on various online platforms, including websites and social networking sites, but perhaps the most popular of these is search engines.
When we think about our own internet usage, it’s easy to understand why this is the case as almost every query we make begins with ‘a Google’.
So in terms of PPC, this brings us to our next question…
Although Google certainly isn’t the only search engine out there, it is without a doubt the biggest. And even when we put our own experiences aside, there are figures to back this claim up.
Image source: Smart Insights
Put simply, Google dominates the search engine market. It holds a 70.38% share of desktop searches and 93.87% of those on mobile. While others such as Bing have gained some popularity in recent years, the continued prominence of Google is too large to ignore.
Recent stats also show that 28% of traceable website traffic comes from paid search, making it one of the most beneficial sources of website users.
Combining the two then, the Google Ads platform offers businesses an opportunity like no other and should therefore be a consideration for any digital marketing strategy.
How does it work?
As straightforward as it seems, getting the most out of your Google Ads PPC marketing requires effort and a certain level of expertise. But that said, understanding the basics is a good place to begin.
When creating a Google Ads account, there are several levels which you will need to become familiar with. The overall account is linked to an email address and billing method.
Within the account, there is the ability to create multiple campaigns. These should relate to the different services or products offered by the business.
Image source: Google
The campaign is then split into ad groups, which are formed of keywords and accompanying ads. This is perhaps the most important level to set up right as what you do here determines the success of any activity.
It is recommended that each ad group has its own focus, containing around ten keywords which all relate and are highly relevant to it. To ensure the keywords included are the most appropriate ones, you should make use of tools such as the keyword planner and conduct research into users’ search queries first.
When creating ads, it is important to include keywords in their copy to ensure they are relevant to the user’s search query, as this will encourage a click through to your website and ultimately, a conversion or sale.
Display network, search ads or Google Shopping
Google ads can be run across the search, display network or Google Shopping networks. While the PPC model remains the same, the look and set up of each type of ad differs.
Ads placed on the display network are visual and thus require accompanying graphics. These are the advertisements you see as banners or pop-ups on some websites and are particularly effective remarketing tools.
For example, ads can be used to remind users of products they have viewed on your website, helping to keep you front of mind if they are yet to make a purchasing decision.
Google Shopping ads are ideal for ecommerce businesses as they prompt users to click directly through to product pages where they can purchase the item. Ads feature an image of the product, a price and the retailer for the utmost convenience.
Search ads however, are those you see at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs). These are text-based and are successful due to their prominent placing above organic results, meaning users do not have to scroll for too long before finding a relevant response to their query.
Through use of ad extensions, the space these ads take up is maximised and greater convenience is offered to users, resulting in an increased likelihood of a click through and conversion.
PPC works by advertisers bidding on what they perceive the value of a certain keyword to be. Therefore naturally, those keywords that more businesses are bidding on, and thus see value in, result in more expensive clicks.
It is recommended that keywords are kept specific and niche, rather than generic to avoid highly competitive searches and expensive costs per click (CPC). This way, cost can quickly add up, which is why PPC is considered an expensive marketing tactic by many.
However, if you approach the activity strategically, being selective with the keywords you bid on and setting strict daily budgets, the return on investment will be more than enough to justify the spend.
Ultimately, the cost per acquisition of a customer through Google PPC advertising should never be more than the value they bring to your business.
The best way to ensure you are getting the most out of your PPC activity is to monitor and analyse its data and performance. While the Google Ads platform offers some insight, integrating it with a Google Analytics account that is connected to your website, will provide you with a more holistic view of customer journeys.
Findings can then go into informing improvements of both the website and future PPC activity. For example, ads that have resulted in a greater number of completed purchases, calls or contact form conversions can be continued, or used as best practice for the creation of other ads.
Similarly, those that have resulted in shorter session times or high bounce backs might want to be removed or improved to avoid wasting budget.
Although this is a basic overview of Google PPC advertising, it’s important to remember that there is no one size fits all approach for all businesses and industries. But while there are certain tactics that can be applied more universally, maximising the value attained from activity requires ongoing learning and tailoring.
This is because marketing platforms like Google Ads are constantly updating their criteria and functions to keep up with changing user behaviours. As a result, those responsible for running a business’s PPC campaigns must spend time understanding the changes in order to stay ahead of the competition and get the most out of their investment.
For this reason, many opt to outsource the task to a third-party agency or specialists who are dedicated to PPC advertising, which frees up in-house time and resources that can then be allocated to other business-critical functions.