PPC, Paid Search, SEM – all terms that you may have heard, all referring to one concept: online advertising.

So, what is PPC advertising?

PPC is an abbreviation of Pay Per Click, one of the most common payment models for online advertising, it’s used by the search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo for adverts in thir results pages. An advertiser will place their ad on a website and will only pay when a person clicks on their ad, meaning that they only pay for traffic to their website.

Alternative payment models do exist – Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM), Cost Per Lead (CPL) and monthly or daily charges.

What about Paid Search and SEM?

Paid Search and SEM – or Search Engine Marketing – are both terms that are used to refer to advertising specifically on search engines. The major search engines all offer their own advertising platforms to give businesses like yours the opportunity to pay for placements in their search result pages (SERP).

Bing SERP with paid ad placements from their ad platform adCenter highlighted:

Paid ads in Bing's Search Engine Results

Google SERP with paid ad placements from their platform AdWords highlighted:

Highlighted paid ads in Google SERP

How does PPC work in the search engines?

Different advertising platforms work in slightly different ways, but they all use the same basic principles. Think of the search engine ad placements like an auction; you choose the keywords that you want your ads to appear for and you set how much you are willing to pay for a click on your ad (the maximum bid).

Every time a user types a search query into a search engine an auction is run for paid placements, resulting in an ordered listing of adverts:

Basic diagram showing how PPC works

Adverts higher up the page are more likely to be seen by searchers, and so are more valuable. There are many things that you can do as an advertiser to increase your chances of appearing higher up the SERP: Writing relevant and engaging ad copy, sending traffic to the perfect page on your website and experimenting with your bids are just a few of the ways that advertisers like you can improve their placements.

Where else can my adverts appear?

Of course pay per click advertising isn’t limited to the search engines, the Internet is your oyster! There are major advertising networks that allow you to place your ads on virtually any website you can think of, and other sites offer PPC ad slots, notably there are several social media advertising platforms.

How much does pay per click cost?

That really is up to you – the beauty of pay per click is that you can spend as much or as little as you like. Depending on how competitive your chosen keywords are, you may need to invest more to see results, but if your advertising spend is improving your sales then it is money well spent.

Is pay per click worth it?

That’s the big question on most advertisers lips, does PPC work? The answer is, it depends. If done right, pay per click can be an extremely effective and low cost way to attract traffic to your website, if not you may find that you lose money faster than you can make it.

There are many factors that can affect your success – account structure, choice of keywords, how much budget you can spend, how competitive the keyword is, how effective your website is. And many, many more.

Before you start advertising you need to understand what your goals are, how much you can afford to spend for your enquiries or sales – in other words, how much can you spend to make money, and you have to know why your brand is brilliant. What is your USP? What do you offer that no one else can? Why should a customer choose you over your competitors? You need to answer these questions in your ad and on your website or you will struggle to make money.

So, what is paid search management?

Many advertisers find it difficult to get the best value from their pay per click campaigns – if your campaign hasn’t been set up correctly, you can lose money without seeing any return on the investment. For this reason companies may turn to a pay per click agency to manage and optimise their accounts on their behalf.

Can a PPC management company increase my sales?

Skilled PPC managers will be able to drive more traffic to your website – and they should be keeping a close eye on whether or not the traffic they send to you converts (i.e. whether the visitor buys from you or makes an enquiry).

They can take steps to improve the quality of the traffic you are buying – ensuring that you are paying for clicks from the people who are most likely to buy from you. They should also be running split tests – experimenting to see what ad copy, ad position and landing pages drive the most conversions

However good a PPC company is, your website needs to be set up to ensure that you make the most of every click you pay for. For this reason, paid search management may be combined with conversion rate optimisation services so that further testing can be done to maximise your return on investment.

More information on pay per click and paid search management

Do you still have more questions about pay per click? Just give us a call onĀ  0845 474 0974, send us an enquiry or visit our paid search management page to see how we can help you.

We are a Google AdWords Certified Partner, which means that we have passed Google’s high criteria and are officially recognised by the search engine as a quality PPC agency capable of managing Google AdWords accounts. We also have experience of managing both Bing and Yahoo PPC campaigns, so whatever your concerns, we can help.