Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising delivers unmatched returns for those mastering this high ROI digital marketing channel. However, newcomers often stumble out the gates wasting ad budget on poorly optimized campaigns doomed to fail.

This definitive guide serves as your roadmap to PPC success revealing insider techniques to configure search campaigns, craft compelling ads, track conversion metrics, and operate profitably at scale. We distill actionable recommendations whether launching your first campaign or seeking to expand into social and mobile channels.

Follow our templated blueprint for achieving remarkable efficiency managing paid search and display initiatives. Come ready to finally gain full clarity on previously cryptic PPC acronyms and concepts. Or simply refresh forgotten fundamentals now leveraging the latest 2023 features.

By the end, our frameworks, templates, and expert analysis equip growing brands to generate qualified web traffic, calls, leads, and sales with consistent positive ROI across channels like Google Ads. Let the game changing digital marketing results begin.

Digital advertising is a rapidly growing, constantly evolving industry. In the era of fast internet and emerging apps, it is an absolute necessity to maintain a high online presence. Pay per click advertising could be your key to great visibility and results.

Pay Per Click Advertising Scrabble Tiles Image

The spike in online advertising comes from its advanced targeting technology and lower price tag. These days, companies are given more control over their ads, and can choose exactly where, when and to whom the ad is displayed. This makes it much easier to effectively communicate with the intended customer and obtain real results.

What is Pay Per Click Advertising?

Essentially, pay per click (PPC) advertising is a way to buy and boost clicks to your website or blog as opposed to earning those visits organically. 

These ads are strategically placed across the web and are designed to effectively attract and engage new, relevant visitors. 

Pay per click is unique as it involves a cost each time an ad is clicked. Rather than splurging on a billboard and hoping it gets traction – PPC is results-focused, meaning you only pay for the success your ad achieves.

Pay per click has been a game changer since it entered the advertising world. Ever wondered how search engines make money? Believe it or not, pay per click makes up 99% of Google’s revenue; making it almost the sole provider of Google’s income. The process of selling vacant spots on search engines, websites and social media platforms has been pegged as one of the most innovative digital marketing methods to date.

Types of Pay Per Click Advertising

WIth PPC being such a revolution – it is no surprise that this advertising method has been adapted to suit multiple platforms. While these sites and tactics are distinct in their own right – they all aim towards the same goal: to generate more clicks.

As such, there are many avenues you can explore with pay per click advertising:

  • Search advertising
  • Display advertising
  • Social media advertising
  • Remarketing
  • Sequential remarketing
  • Google Shopping

We will delve into each of these so that you can decide which option is best for you.

Search Advertising

If you are an avid internet user, you will have come across pay per click search ads before.They are an extremely popular ad option, with the most common type of search ad being scattered across Google.

The way it works is: when you search for something, you’ll notice the ads at the top and bottom of the organic results. They are identifiable by their small ‘Ad’ tag in bold.

This is what they typically look like:

Pay Per Click Advertising Type
PPC ads are always labelled to distinguish them from organic results. Example of search advertising.

By entering the auction to have your business’s ad shown on the results page, you can advertise at the prime time people are searching for your product or service. You can create your pay per click ad through Google’s Adwords interface, where you can also find help in keyword research and audience targeting. 

This form of PPC advertising is a proven method of returning results, plus it saves significant time by bypassing organic rankings that take a long time to earn.

Display Advertising

Display advertising shows your ad across all Google partner websites across the internet. 

This is different from search advertising, as you can target specific types of people to see your ads. For example, you can select your exact target audience, or choose people that have previously visited websites similar to yours. You can even handpick relevant industry websites to showcase your ad and appeal to viewers. 

As shown at the very top and sides of this example, this is what display advertising looks like:

Pay Per Click Advertising Type
Ads on an ordinary website are known as display advertising. (Image Credit:

Want to know more? Check out our article on display advertising for even more information.

Social Media Advertising

If you want to target people on a social platform, you can via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can place your ad directly into your target audience’s newsfeed, or even in their social inboxes. 

What’s handy is that social media advertising gives the advertiser a lot of control. Any business can make use of these ads – no matter how big or small your social media following is. You can also be as selective or sharing as you like. One day, you could choose to set up an ad directing people to your website. The next day, you could encourage people to fill out lead generation forms. 

The main challenge is creating clickable content in a saturated environment. You will be competing against personal status updates and other businesses wanting to get attention. To capture interest, it is key that your imagery and wording is creative, clear and concise like below:

Pay Per Click Advertising Type
Successful PPC ads on social media are all about grabbing users’ attention.

Have a read of our full guide on social media advertising to find out more. 


Ever noticed certain products you browse end up following you wherever you go online? That’s called remarketing. 

This is a highly effective method of PPC advertising as it retargets people that have already shown a genuine interest in your product or service. 

By being reminded of this interest, this convenient method could convince the prospective customer to convert and make a purchase. 

Here’s a clever example of retargeting from ASOS:

Retargeting Online Advertising
Retargeting means using audience data from one channel to target ads at users on another.

Sequential Marketing

Sequential marketing is similar to retargeting, except with longer staying power.

Instead of just retargeting people in the immediate or short-term, you create a longer-term campaign that shows a previous visitor different content as more time passes. 

This is useful for rolling campaigns, or if you want to inform people about a series of offers or tell them a story. It can also be highly beneficial for targeting different audiences and testing different messages.

Usually, this method incorporates a ‘we miss you’ or ‘this would look good in your basket’ hook message after you have left a site for some time – similar to the ASOS messaging above. These can pop up on social media sites and other websites.

Google Shopping

This is a highly effective PPC advertising option if you have an ecommerce website

Often, when you Google something, a series of ready-to-shop products will become available on the search engine results page. They typically look like a carousel, showcasing products related to the searcher’s intent as well as accompanying prices like the example below:

Pay Per Click advertising screenshot
PPC advertising is a particularly popular strategy for ecommerce brands.

This maximises convenience for the customer on their search journey, and therefore heightens the chances of the ad being clicked on.

With pay per click advertising – no matter the method – it is a win-win-win situation. The search engine or website makes profit from advertisers renting ad space, advertisers get a more efficient method to display their products/services and the customer finds what they are looking for easier.

Tips on best practices for PPC budgeting and calculating ROI:

Budgeting Approaches

  • Manual CPM: Manually set a daily budget based on volume and CPM targets
  • Automated bidding: Let Google algorithms optimize bids to utilization within overall budget
  • Portfolio level: Allocate budget evenly or strategically across campaigns

ROI Calculation

  • Establish conversion tracking for key goals
  • Factor in conversion value – email signups, ecommerce orders etc
  • Compare ad cost to revenue/value generated
  • Target a minimum 3-5X ROI for profitable paid search

Cost Control Techniques

  • Set daily caps by campaign to align to targets
  • Use date based budget scheduling for adjusting over time
  • Enable bid strategies like ROAS, CPA to optimize for efficiency

**Ongoing Optimization

  • Measure product/service profit margins
  • Identify highest converting keywords to guide investments
  • Eliminate low performing keywords eating budget

Allow 1-2 months to gauge true ROI potential and fine tune budgets to optimal levels per campaign. Continual optimization helps control CPC prices while boosting conversion rates over time.

Tips for conducting effective keyword research for pay-per-click ads:

Seed Keywords

  • Identify 2-3 core product or service terms to start

Keyword Groupings

  • Organize into ad groups around buying stages – broad, top of funnel, product-specific, etc

Search Volume Filtering

  • Prioritize keywords with sufficient search volume for visibility

Competition Filtering

  • Factor in cost per click and ad competition ranking difficulty

Bid Simulations

Search Query Analysis

  • Mine Google Analytics for actual previously searched terms

Negative Keywords

  • Add non-converting terms and irrelevant queries as negatives

Ongoing Expansion

  • Continually add closely related keywords around those converting well

Blending seed terms with search query mining surfaces the commercial search phrases with qualified traffic potential. Group similar keywords while filtering out high competition terms initially to contain costs. Expand pockets that deliver converting users over time.

Is Pay Per Click the Wave of the Future?

Advertisers are constantly coming up with new ideas to showcase their products/services. The wheels of the marketing cart are constantly turning; it is a never-ending field of resources to reap. 

While it is unlikely that pay per click advertising is the be-all and end-all method of marketing, right now it is one of the best and most cost effective ways to get your product out there due to the fact that so many people are online now.

Chances are that pay per click will continue to evolve with the times. Providing new insights that we can’t even imagine existing yet – but will probably not be able to live without in the future.

This begs the question: is pay per click the perfect advertising method? Realistically, everything has its good and bad sides.

The Good

PPC Is Performance Oriented

As a performance oriented advertising method, pay per click matches the intention of the searcher as well as the objectives of the advertiser. The advertiser only pays if their ad is clicked on, making it cost efficient and easier to communicate with the potential customer.

The More You Know, The Better

Information is a crucial asset; if you know the market, you can control it. All types of pay per click advertising provides extremely useful information for the business, including: how many people clicked the ad, how many clicks lead to actual sales, what time of day the ad was clicked the most and locations of individuals who clicked the ad. 

The information provided is of great use to advertisers and would ­­significantly aid in future campaigns.

You Can Localise PPC Ads

One of the most dominant advantages is the ability to choose where the pay per click ad appears. If a business runs its operations somewhere in Europe – ads for the company appearing in South America would cost money if people click it without being converted to actual sales. A company can choose the ads to be displayed in the areas where the expected target market would be.

It Boosts Your Online Presence

As stated before, the online presence of any business is crucial. Pay per click advertising ensures that your website is targeted and accessible to viewers. This helps maintain and grow the online visibility of any website. 

The more your business’s name becomes familiar to an audience, people will become more likely to click. Especially if their first conversion experience is positive and exceeds expectations.

The Bad

Click Fraud

Some website publishers use automated scripts to fraudulently generate clicks on the ads posted to their webpage. These clicks exhaust the advertiser’s marketing budget and the clicks would never lead to an actual sale since it is a bot doing the clicking.

This happens mostly when advertisers choose to display their PPC ads on disreputable websites. These websites might be related to the product or service the company is trying to sell. Therefore, it is advised to choose distinguished and well-known websites with proven track records.

Not Every Click Is a Sale

In a perfect world, one click would be equal to one sale. Unfortunately this is not true; some may click the ad just to window shop, others might click out of curiosity, many would click the ad multiple times just to browse without actually buying anything. This, of course, costs the advertiser money that does not convert into actual sales.

Increase In Keyword Prices

The more popular a keyword is, the higher its price. With the bidding system, a click could cost as much as $100. For example, a country has four telecommunication companies. In an auction between the four companies, the bid for the keywords ‘best telecommunication company’ would be sought after by each company, leading to a steep increase in the price of the keyword.

The Risk of Piggybacking

A father giving his child a piggyback ride sounds like a good time for the family. Unfortunately, in the digital marketing world – it is something else entirely. Piggybacking is an unethical practice used by some companies to steal customers from their competitors.

This can be achieved when a company uses the competitor’s company name as a keyword. When someone is searching for the competitor’s company, the first hit would be the piggybacker; potentially stealing clients.

Mobile PPC

  • Mobile PPC spend to surpass desktop, now over 60 percent of total
  • Mobile-first landing page experiencecritical for conversions
  • Expand into app traffic via app install/re-engagement campaigns

YouTube Ads

  • Video Discovery and Brand Lift emerging ad formats on YouTube
  • Bumper Machine feeds short video ads in Stories content
  • YouTube Masthead takeover ads offer massive awareness

Instagram/Facebook Ads

  • Full-screen Instagram stories ads in Explore feed
  • Dynamic Creative optimization for relevant messaging
  • Automated multi-ad sequencing over buyer journey

TikTok PPC

  • Steep growth for awareness and traffic, new MarTech integrations
  • Top viewing window under 10 seconds requiring compact messaging
  • Hashtag Challenge ads drive video UGC engagement

The key PPC advertising metrics and KPIs to track for campaign performance:

Traffic Metrics

  • Impressions – Critical for visibility
  • Clicks – Signals interest to land on site
  • Click-through-rate (CTR) – Click to impression ratio
  • Cost-per-click (CPC) – Average cost each click

Engagement Metrics

  • Bounce rate – Single page visits can indicate poor landing pages
  • Pages/session – Multiple pages appropriate for conversions

Conversion Metrics

  • Form fills, signups, purchases – Aligns to campaign goals
  • Cost-per-acquisition (CPA) – Investment per conversion
  • Conversion rate – % visitors converting out of total

Advanced Metrics

  • Lifetime value (LTV) – Long term customer value beyond initial sale
  • Attribution – Full conversion cycle passenger
  • ROI – Ultimate profitability indicator

Regularly tracking those core metrics enables assessing what messaging, keywords and landing pages resonate best with audiences and deliver outcomes tied to campaign objectives.

Why PPC Is Dominating the Digital Marketing Scene

Pay per click ads were hailed as a revolutionary and innovative digital marketing tool. The fact that you only pay when someone clicks your ad helped cut unnecessary advertising costs for advertisers and increase online visibility simultaneously.

With PPC ad campaigns, everyone wins. The advertiser on a budget, the consumers who find what they are looking for faster, and the search engines or sites that make most of their revenue from pay per click ads.

When it comes to digital advertising – pay per click is easily among the top methods to market your product or service online.

Pay Per Click Advertising FAQ

Frequently Asked PPC Advertising Questions:

Q: How much should I budget for PPC ads?

A: Start with $100-500 per month minimum while tracking ROI on keywords.

Q: Which landing page works best for PPC traffic?

A: Dedicated PPC landing pages aligned to ad content and offers convert best.

Q: Does pay per click advertising require constant management?

A: Expect at least weekly optimization check-ins to maintain accounts.

Q: Is Google Ads the only PPC platform available?

A: Beyond Google, options include Bing Ads, Amazon Sponsored Products, and increasingly social platforms.

Pay Per Click Advertising Conclusion

Mastering PPC advertising delivers unmatched returns when executed strategically over spraying and praying budget. As with any complex marketing skill, there exist nuances around optimizing daily management and extracting full value.

But our guide breaks down key concepts, metrics, ad formats and platform capabilities explaining exactly how savvy brands position campaigns for sustainable success. Now familiar with core PPC building blocks, new practitioners can progress confidence forward avoiding pitfalls.

The primer covered here unlocks the door to a world of qualified traffic, lead generation muscle and trackable sales bound to propel any growing organization. Just be sure to continually expand skills as the pay per click landscape warrants.

If you haven’t explored pay per click advertising as an option, there could be real benefits for your company waiting to be found. At ProfileTree, we offer extensive digital training services, including PPC training. If you are interested in learning more, contact us here.

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