The Beginner’s Guide to PPC

By Katherine Nails, March 14, 2018

Trying to understand the ins-and-outs of pay per click advertising (PPC) can be overwhelming, and leave you feeling like you just left a three-hour seminar on astrophysics. 


Source: BoingBoing

The good news is that mastering PPC doesn’t have to be rocket science! In this post, we are going to break it down what PPC is and how you can optimize it to fit your brand’s needs.

What Is PPC Anyways?

Pay per click (PPC), also known as cost per click (CPC), is when you pay a little bit of money each time someone clicks on your ad. Essentially, you are only paying each time the ad does its job and attracts a potential customer.

Related Post: 20 Years of PPC

Sounds like a pretty good deal. But before you create your PPC campaign, there’s a little more you need to know.

Where PPC Ads Appear

PPC ads are most commonly seen at the top of search results like this PPC ad below. Here, when a keyword (or phrase) like ‘athletic wear’ is searched, relevant ads for athletic wear are shown.

athletic wear

Source: Google 

PPC can also be seen in the form of a banner, pop-up, or promoted social media post, but for now we are going to focus on search results.

Optimizing Your PPC Ad

Once you’ve crafted your ad, you’ll need to optimize it. Here’s how:

  1. Determine Your Keywords. Select the keywords, or search terms you want your ad to be associated with. For example, if you own a sneaker company, one of your keywords may be ‘running shoes.’

Helpful tip: many businesses do in-depth research to determine which keywords lead to the most clicks and website interaction.

Related Post: 3 Elements You Need to Improve Your PPC Campaign

  1. Bid Against Other Companies. You won’t be the only company who wants your particular keywords, and there’s only room for a handful of ads on search pages. 


Source: Caspert

Companies that want the same keywords usually have to bid against one another for the use of those keywords. Your bid, along with the quality of your ad, will determine if you are granted use of the keyword, and where your ad will be on the search page. The diagram below explains how one host, Google AdWords, uses bids and quality points.

bid wars-251839-edited

Source: Wordstream  

  1. Study Your Results. Reviewing your analytics on a regular basis will help you stay on top of campaign optimization. PPC isn’t set it and forget it. You need to continue to optimize throughout the life of the campaign.

The Pros and Cons

Before committing to PPC, carefully weigh the pros and cons to see if it makes sense for your brand.

The Pros. Many of PPC’s benefits are related to the increased control that you have over your campaign. With PPC you determine what you’re willing to pay by setting your budget and frequency cap. This allows you to remain budget conscious.

Along with setting a budget, PPC allows you to have a say in who sees and potentially clicks on your ad. This control is possible through your keywords.



The Cons. While PPC can be extremely profitable, it can also be expensive. Every time someone clicks you have to pay, even if they don’t buy anything.This can be especially problematic if bots are clicking.

Related Post: 4 KPIs for Measuring Display Campaign Success

Bidding wars can also drive the price up, too, and large companies with bigger budgets can drive prices sky high, making PPC keywords difficult for smaller businesses to obtain.


PPC can be a great digital advertising method. Just be sure to do your research, create a high- quality ad, and stay on top of your optimization. Hopefully, the clicks will soon come rolling in.

PPC Optimization Checklist

Katherine Nails

Katherine Nails

Katherine Nails is a former eZanga Content Marketing Intern. She is a student at the University of Delaware, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Media Communication, and minors in Journalism and Integrated Design. When she’s not tracking down a source for her school’s student newspaper, you can find her relaxing with a good book or movie. More Articles by Katherine Nails