Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can be a highly effective channel for increasing traffic and sales on your website. Too often, however, people feel like it’s a matter of PPC versus Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This isn’t really a useful comparison, because any website that would benefit from a pay per click campaign would benefit from SEO, and most that do SEO would benefit from doing PPC. Sites that have no interest in selling something probably don’t need PPC; however, SEO can still benefit these sites by increasing traffic, which has its own benefits.
Pay per click advertising is non-organic, meaning these placements appear because they’ve been paid for and not due to any objective ranking system by a search engine. If you want to appear at the top of the first page of a search engine results page (SERP), you can, as long as you can afford it. A lot of internet users will know that you paid to get there, but if you have what they’re looking for, they won’t care. If you don’t have time to wait for the fruits of a good SEO project, pay per click can be a way to quickly see results, if done properly.
Almost all pay per click advertising is done through the big three search providers: Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. These advertising networks allow you to place ads on the SERP’s and directly on web pages of third party affiliate sites. Each time your ad appears, and someone clicks on it, you are charged the current cost per click. How much that is depends on how much you bid, which in turn is dependent on how much other PPC advertisers have bid. If you’re willing to pay $0.04 per click, but someone else is willing to pay $0.05 per click, their ad will take precedence. Your ad will either appear in a less prominent place on the page, or not at all if there is only one spot. This isn’t cause for alarm though, because if your bid is at least competitive, you’ll always appear somewhere.
As with SEO, keywords are vital to PPC. The difference is that you can specify several keywords and change them as often as you want. The keyword list is a cornerstone of an effective PPC campaign. Because you have to pay each time someone clicks your ad, you want to weed out people who are just browsing without any intention of buying. If your list is too broad, you may attract a lot of these web surfers and waste your money. On the other hand, if your list is too narrow, you’ll miss out on a lot of potential buyers. Using negative keywords, i.e. terms that you don’t want to show up for, can help you target the right audience also.There is an art to nailing the perfect keyword list, and often you need someone outside of your company to help you get it right. Online marketing consultants can really earn their pay here.
No one gets PPC advertising right straightaway. This is why frequent, almost neurotic monitoring of your campaigns is essential. Google, Yahoo!, and Bing provide PPC clients with the reports needed to evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns. The information on these reports can help you tweak your keywords, locations, ad copy, and the time periods during which you want your ads to be seen. You should be looking at your campaign performance daily, even hourly.
Pay per click advertising, in a way, was made for the “little guy.” Anyone can do it, and most people can learn how to do it well enough to see decent results; however, professional online marketers can transform an okay PPC campaign into a lean, mean conversion machine. Even though you pay a little extra for their services, your net will almost always be greater, especially if you haven’t done much PPC yourself.