In building a pay-per-click (PPC) strategy, understanding what PPC is (or isn’t) will help you establish the right foundation. PPC or “pay for position” advertising brings targeted traffic to your website in a matter of hours as opposed to waiting weeks or even months for your SEO efforts to product results. Statistics show that using a blended strategy that combines PPC and SEO produces the best return on investment. PPC advertising establishes immediate search ranking, while SEO takes time (meaning you may have to wait months or even years before your website appears at the top of the first page of the search engine results). PPC’s key benefits are the fast results and the ability to laser-focus on relevant visitors.
On a search results page, pay-per-click ads appear in segregated areas called sponsored links, at the top and in the right-hand column. If you type in a certain keyword, you’ll almost always see a sponsored link on the results page. Advertisers only pay when an ad is clicked on, hence “pay-per-click” ad. Google is the dominant player in PPC advertising, followed by the combined Bing/Yahoo. PPC advertising works because it’s targeted, and brings visitors to your website because they’ve expressed an initial interest in your offerings by searching using very specific keywords. PPC’s popularity grew quickly because advertisers liked being able to track where actual sales or leads came from. Google became one of the fastest-growing online advertising channels and has over one million advertisers.
Ads with Google AdWords not only appear on their search engine, but are also syndicated to hundreds of thousands of websites called “content network partners,” offering a worldwide audience reach in the billions. These content network partners range from low-traffic niche blogs to popular websites such as WebMD or Huffington Post. Ads can be displayed as small text advertisements or graphical banners, with the website owner deciding on the placement and number of ads to be displayed. When a visitor to these websites clicks on the ad, the click fee is divided (not equally) between Google and the content partner. The money that advertisers are spending on PPC ads represents a majority share of Google’s revenue and many content network partners obtain the majority of their funding from this Google relationship, too.
This defines PPC advertising in the simplest of terms. But don’t assume that this incredible audience reach means PPC is a classic mass media format of advertising. Instead, PPC advertising has inherent differences in terms of how an advertiser communicates with a potential visitor. The initial interest by the website visitor is generated via a search expression (the search terms someone types into their browser). Encapsulated in this search expression is the seed of a customer’s interest. Their quest for a product or service (or their pain points) can be discovered by “reading between the lines” within the search phrase. Even before they have come to your website, they have already, in essence, declared their intention to you.
Google refers to this concept as the “Zero Moment of Truth.” Prospects have not even seen your website or contacted you, yet already there is a shopping decision being formed. You’ll find it easier to succeed with PPC advertising if you think about this principle for a moment. Making your messaging relevant should be your strategy’s leading driver, before you worry about bringing in large numbers of visitors. Your first priority is not building an appeal to reach millions of potential visitors; you should concentrate instead on creating a marketing experience based on relevance. The long-term benefit to this approach is that Google rewards advertisers with lower search costs when they focus on the user experience.