How do PPC ads work?
Google and Microsoft ads work on the principle that you only pay when someone clicks on one of your ads.
In a nutshell, you create text ads and associate those ads with certain keywords. Once someone searches using your defined keywords (and some other conditions are met) your ad will be displayed along with organic search engine results. If your title is well-crafted, your ad will get clicked on by searchers.
Picking your PPC platform
In this section, we'll be focusing specifically on search ads for Google and Bing.
Google Ads is where any aspiring search engine marketer's journey should begin. The best thing about this platform is its unique combination of simplicity and functionality. You can get your first ad up and running in a matter of minutes.
Bing (Microsoft Ads)
Microsoft Ads is the lesser used of the 2 search titans, but this gives it one big advantage: Smaller cost-per-clicks (CPC). Of course, this also comes with smaller audiences.
Another huge advantage of Microsoft ads is the ability to target specific people based on their Linkedin profiles. This is perfect if you want to market premium products to high living standards measure (LSM) audiences.
The best practice is to use a combination of Google Ads and Microsoft Ads. Luckily, the good people at Microsoft Ads (not wanting to be left out) have made it super easy to import your ads directly from Google Ads. So you only have to create your campaigns once.
That being said, it’s wise to run and optimise your Google Ads campaigns for a few months before exporting to Microsoft Ads.
Picking the right audience
One of the things that set PPC advertising apart from SEO based search engine marketing is the power you have to show your ads to exactly the right people. This can be done by setting specific areas, age groups, genders, and more. But it can be further optimised by using the correct tone in your ad copy.
Remember, every click will cost you money. So you have to do everything you can to make sure the right people click on your ads. It’s a good idea to have a brand strategy and brand voice guide on hand, before starting work on your search ads.
How much will this cost me?
Your total monthly cost is calculated as follows: Total Monthly CPC + Management Fee.
Total Monthly Cost Per Click (CPC)
CPC’s can vary wildly. The biggest determining factor in CPC’s is competition. If your keywords are in a high competition or highly saturated niche, there’s a chance that your CPC’s are going to be high.
Finding the exact CPC’s of your keywords before running a campaign isn’t possible, but some tools can help you get estimates.
Most companies who make use of PPC ads hire someone to manage their accounts. So if you’re planning to manage your own account, this cost doesn’t apply. But it's something to consider.
A campaign manager will set up your account efficiently and optimise your campaigns daily to make sure you are not losing money with the wrong keywords, off-target audiences or ineffective ads. Campaign managers charge either monthly or hourly fees.
Picking the right tools
The Keyword Planner
The Keyword Planner is a free tool that’s built into the Google Ads user interface. The planner will help you predict how much your keywords will cost you and what type of clickthrough rates can be expected.
This will help you to choose the right keywords and will ultimately give you an idea of the budget you’ll need to run an effective search campaign.
You should always have Grammarly open in a browser tab or download it as an add-on. This tool isn’t directly related to PPC campaigns, but it can be a lifesaver nonetheless. Bad grammar and writing will not only affect your clickthrough rates but also leave a bad mark on your brand image. Grammarly will help you find errors in your writing that other tools, such as normal spell checkers, won’t pick up.
Semrush is the swiss army knife of digital marketing tools. Semrush features loads of tools that will help you write copy, research trends, pick keywords, track results and more. It’s quite pricey, but worth every cent.
Google Data Studio
After you’ve run your campaigns for a while it’s important to track your success. Google Data Studio is a relatively simple (and free) way to set up reports and dashboards to help give you valuable insights into your campaigns. They even have a handy dashboard template to get you started.
However hard you try, you can’t get away from spreadsheets. Use Google Sheets to create a Search Ads Diary. This is a place where you can log all the changes you make to your campaigns and keywords. This might sound tedious, but it will help you in the long run. If you see something strange happening in your metrics, such as a sudden spike in CPC, your diary will help you determine which changes were responsible. And of course, save you money.
Is a PPC campaign the right choice for your business?
Although PPC campaigns are an amazing and quick way to get your products out there, they might not always be the best option for you. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have a specific, measurable action you want users to take on your website? For example, sign up for a newsletter or make a purchase.
- Do you have enough budget available to run ads in your specific niche? (How many ads for other companies do you see when you search for your keywords?)
- Is your niche allowed in search ads? (See the Google Ads guidelines)
If you answered no to any of these questions, it might be wiser to focus your efforts and budget on SEO or social media ads.
With PPC, you see results instantly but those results aren’t always the best. Less than 10% of searchers actually click on Google Ads so a long term investment in SEO is definitely worth the time and effort. You can use PPC while you build up your SEO strategy.