What Is Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising?

Pay Per Click (PPC) is an advertising campaign with the intention of driving user activity to a given business's website, where the advertiser pays for each ad click. 

Pay Per Click

A study on the value of positioning in Google results found that 92% of all traffic is generated on the first page of Google alone. All subsequent pages see significantly lower levels of traffic. After all, the second page of search results is the best place to hide a dead body. 

With that in mind, business owners often aim to fall on the first search engine results page (SERP). That alone can make or break a company’s chances of profitization. However, there are two routes in which a company could go. While some choose keyword research and link building, others choose to pay for advertisements. The latter is done through an advertising campaign called Pay Per Click (PPC).

What Is Pay Per Click?

A digital form of marketing, PPC is a method referring to the way in which advertisers pay an amount of money each time an individual ad is clicked on. The money then goes to their publisher, who is most commonly the website in which their ad is placed on. The intention of this advertising campaign is to drive user activity to a given business's website. 

Through different PPC strategies, a business can achieve both clicks and impressions. Additionally, this campaign is part of a larger Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign by which businesses seek to maximize their visibility. Let’s look at Google for example. 

If you were to Google “how to sell my car” the first thing you’d see would be paid ads. To the left of the URL, you’d find at least one of these words: “ad,” “sponsored,” or “promoted.” These words let you know that the business has paid for that position in the SERP.

Essentially, those businesses appearing first in the SERP have guaranteed visibility via advertising. This, however, is only one form of PPC. 

Pay Per Click vs. Search Engine Optimization 

Below the paid results are the organic results. These results lend themselves to linkable, keyword-focused content, a part of a strategy called search engine optimization (SEO). This content is specifically tailored to search engine queries. Therefore, the organic results of a SERP can be more relevant to searcher intent than paid results. 

Pay Per Click vs. Cost Per Click

Though different, PPC and Cost Per Click (CPC) work in tandem with each other. While PPC is the method of marketing in which businesses use to maximize their visibility through advertisements, CPC is how they will pay for such advertisements. The latter is simply a measurement stating how much the advertiser will pay per click.

Want to learn more?
Visit our blog to learn more about search and search engine optimization.
To The Blog
SEO Keyword Research

SEO Keyword Research

Read our comprehensive SEO keyword research guide to learn how you can get your web pages to show up higher in the SERPs.

 Link Building Guide

Link Building Guide

Check out our ultimate link building guide to learn how to earn powerful backlinks to empower your web content in search.

How Does Pay Per Click Work?

Advertisers place bids on certain keywords and keyphrases. For popular ones, the advertisers will pay much more. Let’s take French restaurants, for example. If you were to Google “French restaurants” you’d probably find a plethora of them. However, if you were to Google “French restaurants in Reno, Nevada” the results would be far less extensive. Essentially, the more searched the topic is, the more advertisers will pay per click. The advertisers will continue to pay for the add until their specified budget has been depleted. 

In order to determine how different paid ads will rank among each other, publishers consider a few different factors through what they refer to as an “ad auction.”  The purpose of this auction is not necessarily to reward the highest bidder with the top position on a given SERP. Instead, the auction takes into consideration a website’s relevance and validity in relation to the keywords and keyphrases in which it intends to rank for.  Websites can gain relevance and validity through the keyword ranking and link building, concepts mentioned above.

Types of Pay Per Click

There are many different types of PPC campaign strategies, each with their own purpose and placement. While some can be used to facilitate successful conversion rate optimization, others offer an array of impressions. Below are a few types as well as proper examples:

Paid Search Advertising 

The example given above on “how to sell my car” is a form of search advertising. The ads displayed on the top of the SERP are a product of Google Adwords, when searching using Google. Essentially, your campaign would utilize the advertising platform by choosing keywords that are commonly associated with what your company does. If your company knows how to sell cars then you may choose to optimize for the keywords “buy cars.” Your company then would be both first in the SERP and relevant to the searcher’s intent.

Display Advertising

Display advertising is an unconventional method of achieving clicks. These ads appear on the search engine’s partner websites in the form of banners or images. Although they link back to your website, they normally don’t garner a significant click-through rate. Rather, their purpose lies more in creating impressions than it does in anything else. Impressions may not cause someone to buy your product or service, but it’s an excellent form of brand recognition. 

Social Media Advertising

Just as their name suggests, social media ads can appear anywhere from Facebook to LinkedIn. The purpose of these ads is to target certain groups of users who share similar demographics or interests. Such ads can be seen in your “feed” or “timeline.” Generally, these ads tend to receive both high click-through rates and impressions. 

Retargeting Advertising

Retargeting, or remarketing, works by keeping a log of a user’s activity in order to predict their next search. The log is created by the cookies on your browser, which essentially store everything you have searched for and clicked on. This type of advertising can be highly effective in continuing to provide brand recognition to searchers who have previously held interest in your product or service.  

Price Comparison Website Advertising 

Price Comparison Website Advertising makes finding the best deal on an item possible by comparing the individual items for you. By showing that a certain company offers the same product as another company, but for a lesser price, odds are people will click-through to the cheaper one. These kinds of price comparisons can be posted on either the company’s own website or on a partner’s website. All in all, this process helps to minimize distractions in an often crowded website page. 

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing occurs when a company offers a commission to any other companies that successfully share their product or service online. Hence, the two companies are affiliates. This could be by means of a blog, a social media post, or simply just on a website. If an Instagram user were to post ads for a new soft drink, they would then receive a share of every purchase made through their link to the company’s website.