There are a number of options when it comes to digital marketing for your business. Pay per click (PPC) is probably the most common and well known of these options. In this guide we’re going to look at how PPC works and how you can use it most effectively for your small business.
What Is Pay Per Click?
Pay per click advertising is exactly what it sounds like. You pay each time a searcher clicks on an advert and visits your website. It’s a great way of increasing traffic to your website and boosting your revenue – but in order to have success with it, you need to set PPC up correctly. If you’re new to PPC it’s easy to make mistakes, and it’s likely that you won’t get the results that you’ve hoped for.
PPC works in different ways depending on the platform that you’re using. Whilst Google AdWords is probably the most well-known of the PPC platforms, there are other options, including Bing Ads and social media advertising such as Facebook Ads. All of the PPC platforms work in much the same way as Google AdWords, so we’re going to focus on AdWords in this guide.
With PPC advertising on AdWords, you have various options, but the most common is search and display adverts. These are the ads that appear at the top and bottom of the search results when you type something into the search bar on Google. Usually, the top 3-4 results you see are ads that are placed there by AdWords. If you click one of these links, the person who set up the ad campaign pays a fee. The amount they pay really depends on the search term, and how many people are competing for the top ad spot.
How AdWords Works
For people new to PPC marketing, AdWords can seem like a confusing landscape. There are so many options that it’s easy to make a mistake. That’s why we’ve created this guide which will take you step by step through setting up a basic AdWords campaign for your business.
Before we get to that, however, let’s take a look at how AdWords works in terms of digital marketing. When someone types a search phrase into Google’s search box the results usually appear in milliseconds – but behind the scenes there is an awful lot going on. As well as deciding which organic (non-PPC) websites to display, according to ranking algorithms, Google has to choose which PPC ads to display, and in which order. It sounds complicated, because it is, and I’m not going to bore you with all the technical details.
AdWords uses a sort of bidding system for its PPC ad network. Kind of like eBay, but the bidding war happens behind the scenes and you don’t have any control over it as it’s happening. When you set up an ad campaign in AdWords (which we’ll go into more detail about below), you choose the keywords you want your ad to be displayed for. Keywords can be really competitive, and with the most competitive ones the bidding can get a little crazy.
You’ll be asked to set a maximum daily budget for your campaign and also have the option of manually selecting the amount you’re willing to pay per click. Google uses this information when someone searches for your keyword in order to decide which ads to show. There are other factors, too, but let’s not overcomplicate things!
Like I said, the bidding can get crazy for competitive keywords. For example, for the keyword/search term “online live roulette” in 2012 each click cost £75.02, whilst “no win no fee accident compensation” cost £66.75 per click. That blows my mind, because I get worried if I have to spend more than £1 per click for my AdWords campaigns. I’m just glad I’m not in the no-win-no-fee business!
Why Use PPC Advertising?
If you’re looking at the figures, I just gave you and are thinking that maybe PPC advertising isn’t for you, just hang on a minute. I said the bidding could get crazy. The costs of AdWords campaigns don’t have to break the bank, however. It’s possible to run a really successful AdWords campaign on a pretty small budget. In fact, savvy digital marketers have found ways of only paying 1p (yes, one penny) per click.
There are massive benefits to running an AdWords campaign for your business website. Google, in particular, has an excellent track record of helping businesses boost their revenue through PPC marketing. Let’s look at some of the benefits of PPC.
1) Attracting More Customers
Quite simply, anyone who doesn’t want to drive more traffic to their website and increase their sales is either already a billionaire or doesn’t care about their business. Harsh, but true. Increasing traffic to your website and converting them to customers is one of the biggest benefits of PPC marketing. Of course, getting someone to click on your ad link is only part of the equation, and you have to have a great landing page that converts visitors into customers, too. That being said, conversions aren’t possible without clicks and visitors, so the AdWords part of the equation is pretty important in my opinion!
2) Global Reach
With AdWords PPC campaigns, you can dramatically extend the reach of your business. You don’t have to rely on organic international traffic or getting the wrong kind of visitors. With PPC marketing, you target specific audiences and direct them to specific landing pages so that you can truly maximise on every click. Bigger reach means bigger business, and there are plenty of big businesses online who owe a great deal of their global success to PPC advertising.
3) Audience Targeting
This is a massive benefit of PPC marketing. If your business sells a product or service, then you’re bound to be familiar with the concepts related to the marketing funnel. With PPC advertising, you can target audiences at each stage of your marketing funnel and direct them to a landing page that is tailored to a specific conversion goal – which is always dependent on their position in the marketing funnel. This means that you can tailor your website traffic to get people aware of your brand, to sign up to a mailing list, or make a purchase.
When you consider the benefits of PPC marketing, it’s definitely worth giving it a try. There are often promotions for free credits from AdWords, too, if you do a bit of searching. That means you can give AdWords a go without taking a huge financial risk. After all, if huge brands like Apple use AdWords, then surely your business should use it, too.
Setting Up AdWords For Your Small Business
Now we’ve covered all the essentials, let’s take a step-by-step look at how you go about setting up a basic AdWords campaign. The first step, of course, is to sign up for a Google AdWords account. Go and do that now, and then come back here for the walk-through.
1) Your First Campaign
The term campaign is used to describe a set of ad groups and keywords that you use to achieve a goal in terms of conversions. When you click the new campaign button in AdWords, you have a number of options to choose from:
- Search Network with Display Select
- Search Network only
- Display Network only
- Universal app campaign
Don’t worry too much about these options for now. Select the first option: Search Network with Display Select. Google advise that this is the best way to reach the most customers, so it’s the best option to get started with.
2) Campaign Settings
The first thing you need to do is give your campaign a name. Then you have a load of different settings you can use:
- Location and language: which countries do you want to target, and which languages?
- Bidding: you can choose between manual or automatic. For now, select automatic – it’s easier when you don’t know what you’re doing yet!
- Budget: here you choose your maximum daily budget (and remember how quickly it will add up in a month!)
- Devices: one cool feature of AdWords is the ability to target different devices, so you can have a campaign for mobile, tablet or desktop. With more searches happening on mobiles these days, that’s a good option.
- Ad extensions: these are where you can add additional information to your ads, such as phone number or address. Great for local PPC campaigns, less useful otherwise.
- Additional settings: these include scheduling the start and end of your campaign, time of day, and frequency. Don’t worry about these for now.
3) Select Your Keywords
Choosing your target keywords is a bit of a minefield, to be honest. If you choose to target the wrong keywords, then you could be spending money but getting no conversions. This stage of your AdWords campaign setup is, therefore, the most important one. Here’s some tips to help you choose the right keywords for your PPC goals:
- Think like a customer: put yourself in your target audience’s mind and imagine what they’re going to be searching for. What problems do they have that your product or service solves?
- Be specific: you might think that more general keywords will generate more traffic – and this is true. But with PPC you’re aiming to get conversions from your clicks, so it’s more important to be specific about the keywords you choose.
- Be relevant: relevancy is cost effective when it comes to PPC campaigns. Target the keywords your audience are going to be searching for – and which they’ll find on your landing page. Long-tail keywords (specific search phrases like “setting up AdWords for my catering company”) make sure that your website content matches up with your AdWords targeting, and increases the likelihood of conversions.
- Use negative keywords: AdWords allows you to select negative keywords, which are words that you don’t want your ad to be shown for. This is really important. If, for example, you’re not offering a free trial of your software, then you should set “free trial” as a negative keyword so that people searching for free trials don’t end up on your site. They’d be a wasted click, and you want to minimise wasted clicks as much as possible.
4) Create Your Ad Groups
Ad groups are a series of ads that target the same keywords. Google recommends a minimum of three ads per group, which allows you to test out different phrasing for your ads and see which ones get the most clicks. That’s a useful way of honing your digital marketing strategy.
5) Create Your Ads
There are three components to Google AdWords ads, and it’s important that you understand how to maximise the impact of these.
- Headline – this is the first part of the ad, the bit that you’ll usually see in blue in search results. There are two main headlines in an AdWords ad, with the option for a third. The third doesn’t always show up on mobile devices so be careful with this one. Each headline has a character limit of 30, so get creative with those characters!
- Display URL – this is the URL that is shown in your ad. You can customise how this looks, but it’s best to just let it be the URL of your landing page.
- Description Text – this is where you have the opportunity to convince potential visitors to click on your link. There are two description areas in AdWords ads, and each of them have a character limit of 90. That’s not a lot of characters, so you might have to spend some time working on this part. It’s a good idea to include a call to action in this part and offering a discount or free item can be enticing for your potential visitors.
6) Ensure Your Landing Page Is Optimised For Conversions
Although not technically part of the process of setting up your AdWords campaign, having a properly optimised landing page for your target audience is vital for success. Landing pages are designed with one goal in mind – to get your visitor to complete a particular conversion goal action. It might be signing up to a newsletter, or registering for a webinar, or buying a product or service.
Regardless of the goal, make sure your landing page is set up to guide your visitor to the goal. Keep it simple. Landing pages should have only one link – to the goal – so don’t confuse your visitors with a landing page that uses your website’s navigation bar.
These are the essential steps you need to take in order to set up your AdWords campaign. Of course, there have been whole books written about PPC advertising, so this guide can’t possibly cover everything. These tips will get you started, though, and give you the opportunity to explore the potential of Google AdWords for your business.
Summarising Our Tips For Maximising Your PPC Success
If you want to make the most out of Google AdWords and other PPC platforms, you will need to try out different types of ads and different types of landing pages. This testing process can take up a lot of time but getting your PPC strategy right can be hugely beneficial for your business. Here’s some ideas of things that you might want to try:
- Use a variety of ad types, including text-based, image-based, or even video ads.
- Look for low-competition keywords that you can target for pennies.
- Test out different kinds of landing page formats to find out which ones your audience respond best to.
- Experiment with Display Network ads to keep your audience aware of your business offerings.
- Look at what your competitors are doing, and how they’re phrasing their ads.
- Use social proof and reviews in your ads.
- Try using statistics in your ads.
- Use conversational search terms as keywords – with the rise of voice searching, this is becoming even more important than ever!
I hope you’ve found this guide to PPC marketing useful. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments – I’d love to get your feedback!
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