What is PPC Advertising ? Learn the Basics of Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

If you’re a small business owner trying to boost awareness of your brand, you know that marketing is your most valuable tool. You know that through a robust marketing campaign you can build positive associations with your brand, draw the interest of qualified leads and boost your chances of high-quality, actionable engagement. But marketing is a multifaceted tool, a tool that can be cumbersome and unwieldy… And what’s more, it doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Plus, with so much to concentrate on when running their business, most entrepreneurs can only spare the time to get to know this tool one facet at a time. 

With this in mind, let’s take a look at Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. This is a key part of any robust marketing campaign, yet even savvy entrepreneurs could do with a helping hand when it comes to properly leveraging PPC and ensuring that they get the kind of return on their investment that they deserve. Here we’ll take an in-depth look at PPC; what it is (as well as what it isn’t), how it works, how it can benefit your business and how we can help you to wield this tool effectively.

What is PPC Advertising

Pay-Per-Click advertising does exactly what it says on the tin. PPC is an online advertising model in which businesses pay every time a user clicks on one of their online ads. Every time you see a “Sponsored” ad or post on your social media feeds, that’s PPC in action. 

There are a number of different types of PPC ads, but perhaps the most common kind is the paid search ad. These are the ads that get top billing on your SERP (Search Engine Results Page) when you carry out an online search using Google or your other search engine of choice. 

These are most common in commercial searches (i.e. a user is looking for something to buy). This might be a local service search (“repair garages in my postcode”) or a mobile search (“coffee shops near me”) or something more esoteric (“best nursing courses” or “business software solutions”). 

PPC ads are run with these search terms (or keywords) in mind so that they will attract the attention of those looking for the kinds of products or services the advertiser has to offer. 

Businesses are only charged when a user clicks on their ad, thus they are “pay per click” ads. Other, slightly less common forms of PPC ads include remarketing / display advertising (Those ads that follow you around on your social media feed or on the adspace of websites after you carry out an online search).

What is PPC Advertising

The Auction Origins of PPC

PPC is online advertising where advertisers compete for advertising space through numerous auction formats. Pay per click means only paying when someone clicks on your advert. Since the origins of PPC many billing variations have arisen from cost per click- such as as well as cost per impression, cost per video view and more- but the profession has retained the original name PPC.

PPC targeting is selecting groups of audiences which match your target customer profile on search engine results pages, as well as on websites placements, interests, behaviours, similarities, demographics, topics and more.

Let’s talk about what PPC isn’t!

The above paragraph could lead you to believe that PPC is the answer to all of your prayers. It puts your products, services and brand in front of the eyes of people who you need to see it. Yet, PPC should not be considered an all-encompassing solution. Think of it as an opening salvo which you can capitalise upon with follow-up measures. You should use PPC as one tool in a comprehensive marketing repertoire. A tool with a very specific function. An experienced agency will be able to help you to effectively capitalise on the surge of interest and awareness that PPC can create.

How does PPC work?

In terms of paid searches, PPC is almost like going on eBay… And what you’re bidding on is awareness. You see, advertisers can’t simply throw money at search engines and pay more to ensure that their ads are more visible on SERPs than those of their competitors. 

All ads, whether they’re from small independent businesses or corporate monoliths are subject to what is known as the Ad Auction. This is an automated process which search engines use to determine the relevance and validity of ads and based on their own criteria positions paid ads accordingly in SERPs.

What is PPC Advertising

All about keywords

But how do Ad Auctions know which ads are relevant to which user searches? Well, it all comes down to the use of relevant words which trigger or display relevant ads. These are known as keywords. So… Whether you’re looking for pizza in Manchester, a hairdresser in Ealing or a casting agent in Birmingham your keywords will help the people with the services you need to reach you. 

As you may expect, some keywords are higher competition than others, and you can expect to pay more to advertise using high-competition keywords. By and large, for small businesses, it’s a good idea to choose low competition keywords as these will give you a better chance of finding your niche. 

It’s also worth considering the intent behind your keywords as some are more intent-rich than others. Brand-building keywords are used to drive traffic and tend to be higher competition while conversion keywords are low-traffic, high intent and intended to prompt users to take a specific action. 

Part of an effective PPC strategy will be deciding which keywords you will use and how you will balance brand-building and conversion keywords.

What is PPC Advertising

The benefits of PPC

When properly leveraged, PPC advertising can benefit your business and your brand in a number of ways. An effective PPC campaign can give your brand a huge shot in the arm and generate quick results that would take months or even years to accomplish through more organic means. What’s more PPC… 

  • Is measurable and trackable- Any marketing campaign requires close monitoring of key performance metrics so that you can track its efficacy. This is easy and intuitive to do with PPC.
  • Is a level playing field- PPC allows you to compete with other enterprises who may have years on you in terms of operational experience. It creates a level playing field upon which you can engage prospects and leads based on your own merits.
  • Is easy to integrate into other marketing channels- As we said before, PPC is at its most effective when integrated into a comprehensive digital marketing strategy. The good news is that PPC is designed to work well with other organic SEO building measures like content marketing.
  • Is laser focused- The very antithesis of productivity is casting the net far and wide and getting your message in front of people who will have no interest in it. The use of specific keywords can lend your PPC campaign laser focus and ensure that it only ever reaches the right people.
  • Can inform your ongoing marketing strategy- PPC options like Google’s AdWords offer up a host of useful data which can give you insights into the impression, click, and conversion data for every keyword you use. This can be invaluable in informing your ongoing marketing and SEO efforts in the long term.

The Growth of PPC Platforms- 1st party and third party.

PPC is a rapidly growing area, so more websites are introducing their PPC platforms.

First, it was Google Adwords, then Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, Linkedin Ads, now Pinterest has a PPC platform.

Even online service marketplaces such as fiver.com provide PPC services,

Even online service marketplaces such as fiver.com provide PPC services where sellers can show adverts to buyers searching for services. Organic listings are determined through natural signals- just like Google. Sponsored ads allow sellers with less experience to develop their online presence within that job marketplace.

Google Ad Sense - Google Display Network


It is possible to run PPC Display advertising on millions of websites through the Google network.

For example running adverts next to related content of online newspapers such as the times. mirror.co.uk, independent.co.uk, dailystar.co.uk, guardian.co.uk, the sun.co.uk and more.

Or show adverts to your past website visitor remarketing audience- but only on certain websites.

Or combine with keywords to only show on certain websites- as well as on content and articles related to your offering.

It is possible to run PPC Display advertising on millions of websites through the Google network. For example running adverts next to related content of online newspapers such as the times. mirror.co.uk, independent.co.uk, dailystar.co.uk, guardian.co.uk, the sun.co.uk and more

Some have audience size restrictions to protect privacy. This is in addition to using data that is part of an anonymous aggregate.

The BBC news website, or media newspaper publications like

What are PPC advertising audiences?

PPC Audiences are a group of people with shared interests, demographics or/and behavioural characteristics. PPC targeting is the ability to select from the list of available audience characteristics that best match your target customer.

Online news websites or social platforms can monetize their business by selling advertising spaces through PPC platforms. They can either sell directly to the advertiser or go a third party exchange program such as Google Adsense.

The Future of PPC Platforms?


More and more PPC Platforms will emerge- as well as the growth of third party platforms such as Google adsense- targeted using the Google Display Network.

How we can help

As we can see, PPC can be hugely beneficial for your campaign and your business… But it can also be an expensive waste of time. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t know what PPC has become for them until it’s too late. 

That’s where we come in. 

We work with businesses just like yours to help them to properly leverage the power of PPC with a host of services which can be tailored to the needs of your business and your campaign. From advising on high-performance keywords to increase your ROI to designing landing pages to optimise your conversion rates we offer a comprehensive suite of services that can help to take your brand to the next level. 


Click here for a free, zero-obligation quote. We can’t wait to help you to leverage PPC and level up your business!


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