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Part 5: Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

14 December, 2011

Google Adwords Testimonial 2

Welcome to part 5 of my blog series about different website promotion tools and techniques. This week examines Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, also known as Cost Per Click (CPC) advertising.

Pay Per Click Adverts are called Sponsored Links or Sponsored Ads, and appear separately to the unpaid organic results. Whereas last week’s blog on SEO was about increasing your presence through improving your organic search results, this week is about how paid advertising with search engines (and other PPC sites) can also be used to drive traffic to your website. For more information and a direct comparison checkout my PPC vs SEO blog.

What is Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)?

PPC is a form of internet advertising that involves other websites. These third party websites direct traffic to your site in return for a referral fee. In the Pay Per Click model, you don’t pay for the placement of the advert on the affiliate or referral website, you only pay when people actually click through to your website. So if your advertising network isn’t successful in directing traffic to your site, you don’t pay for the advertisement.

Payment on results sounds like a win-win situation. And pay per click advertising does have the potential to give great returns on your investment, but only if it is done well. Because you pay for click throughs rather than conversions, you need to ensure that as many people as possible who click through are actually genuine customers and are likely to find what they are looking for on your site, otherwise you can end up paying for a lot of referrals and not generating any income from them.

The way to ensure that you only attract genuine customers is by making sure you place well-written adverts using the right search terms.

Google AdWords

How Does Pay Per Click Advertising Work?

There are many different affiliate sites offering PPC, including Google Adwords, MSN Adcenter, Yahoo Search Marketing, Microsoft adCenter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

To place a PPC advert with a search engine, you place a bid on a particular keyword phrase that is relevant to your market. Selecting the right keyword phrase for your PPC advert is crucial: you want something that has high relevance to your site (to get the right kind of traffic) but is unique enough to attract less competition from other advertisers.

You tell the search engine what is the maximum amount you would pay for a click through, and this determines the order that competing ads appear on the page. When someone types in your selected search term, the search engine uses an automated ‘quality score’ system to choose whose adverts to display. The quality score is based upon such things as historical click-through rates and the relevance of the advert text and keywords.

Click through rates (CTR) on Google can be over 5%, so the potential returns from investment in PPC can be excellent. Google’s Adwords Policy (guidelines for advertisers) can be found here.

Google Adwords Quality Score

Do you have a good click-through rate? Increasing your click through rate will help to boost your quality score, and the higher up your advert is placed, the better still your click-through rate will become.

One of the main benefits of PPC is that you can control your desired expenditure level, setting limits on your account and only paying your chosen amount for click throughs. PPC also delivers instant results, especially when compared to SEO, which takes time and money to deliver results in the long term. However, although you do have control over your options with PPC, it can be a gamble when you start out. In the early stages, there may be some trial and error as you work out the best combination of search terms and the right maximum bid. The good thing is, with careful monitoring, you can implement changes to your PPC strategy straight away and start measuring the difference immediately. In my experience, you have around a 60% chance of it working very well.  You can also maximise your chance of success through the use of strategic copywriting for your PPC advertisements.

Facebook and LinkedIn Advertising

Facebook: Making a Bid for the Google Adwords PPC Crown?

Google Adwords has been the leading player on the PPC scene for a while now as Google is still by far the leading search engine. However, this may soon change with the launch of Facebook’s Open Graph Protocol, which is currently in beta testing stage. Facebook’s new system encourages users to integrate their web pages into a social graph, creating a link between a user and page when the user clicks the ‘like’ button. It has the potential to offer Facebook advertisers much more sophisticated demographics profiling options, so the relevance and of your click throughs can be finely tuned, increasing your potential conversion rate. Definitely one to watch.

Google Advertising

PPC: Try Before You Buy

If you’ve not tried PPC before, you should be able to get hold of trial offer vouchers (Google AdWords certainly offer a few). These are a good way to play around with a couple of options to find out what works and how much it costs, before you dedicate any of your valuable budget to it. In terms of justifying marketing costs on ROI, well-executed PPC campaigns can deliver some of the quickest, most reliable and easily quantifiable results.

Give me a call if you’d like to chat about how PPC could work for your business. There’ll be no sales pitch, just an honest discussion about your best options. And unlike PPC providers, I won’t be trying to sell you their most expensive option, I’ll be advising you on which provider (and which PPC adverts) would give you the results you want.

Thanks for reading! If you found this article useful, please share it with others. If there’s another topic you’d like me to explore, do let me know. I welcome all comments in the box below.

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