What Pay Per Click (PPC) Is

Every time a user does a search on the various search engines that include Google, Bing and Yahoo/MSN the search engine brings back a set of results that they determine is the best matches of the user’s query.  This set of results is pulled from an almost infinite database that has been compiled by search engines scouring (crawling in Internet lingo) the web with what they refer to as spiders.  This database then returns free search results in the middle of the page at almost lightening speed.

Where search engines make their money is in also serving paid listings shown on either the top or to the right of organic or free listings.  The paid listings that are shown use an auction style system for where to order eligible ads that is determined by different advertisers who have accounts where they bid on how much they are willing to pay if their result is shown for a specific keyword and a user clicks on their listing (ad) and is taken to their website.  This is referred to as Pay Per Click or PPC.

In addition, the different search engines use an additional factor called quality score along with the amount an advertiser is willing to pay to determine the order that ads appear.  Although, the exact way that quality score is calculated remains “proprietary”, a fancy word for not shared with the public, the basis of quality score is that a user goes to a page from an ad and does not immediately hit the back button returning to the search results (if a user does this, that is referred to as a bounce).  The search engines use quality score because they do not want results shown that are not relevant to a user’s search.  If the majority of users are clicking the back button (or bouncing) off a website, this shows the search engines that an ad is not relevant to the search and therefore the search engines either lower the ad on the page or will charge more for the ad to place higher on the page.  In contrast, if a page has a good quality score then the search engine will actually charge less for placing the ads higher on the page since it is benefiting the user’s experience by matching them to results with which they are satisfied.

Search engines mark their ads to let its users know the difference between the paid placements and the free (organic) placements. In the example below, you can see a search on Google for UGG Australia.  The top two listings are for paid ads as well as the listing on the right.  After the paid listings, the organic or free listings are placed.  In addition, this ad shows Google Shopping results (which I will discuss how to use in a upcoming blog post).

PPC vs Organic Example
Example of Google Search For UGGs

So aren’t free listings (SEO) better than pay per click (PPC)?

A common question I receive is why not just use the free listings if that is available instead of paying each time someone clicks on one of my ads.  That is a great question and if you have a listing that shows up on the first page of Google then kudos to you!  If you are not on the first page with your organic listings, you can plan on receiving little to no traffic. Getting on the first page of Google is highly competitive depending on the keyword and in fact can be even more competitive than bidding using Pay Per Click.  In addition, thanks to updates by Google in the last few years namely the Panda and Penguin updates “tricks” that were once used by SEO companies promising to have your listing on the first page of Google no longer work.

Even today, I get 4-5 emails per week from companies offering superior SEO (search engine optimization) services and sometimes even guaranteeing results.  One word of advice on these advertisements … RUN.  There is no company that can guarantee results and SEO has become such a catch phrase that many site owners today don’t even know what SEO is they just know that they need it!

There are certain things that you can do to make your site “friendly” to search engines namely the proper use of title tags, meta descriptions and keywords on your page that will increase the likelihood that the search engines will list you higher on the organic listings.  But the truth is, even the most solid of SEO techniques could takes months, years or never be able to have you listed on competitive keywords, which is why the use of Pay Per Click (PPC) becomes so important.

Review-and-Ratings-SystemAdvantages of PPC Advertising

While SEO could take substantial period of time, Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising can be up and running usually within 24-48 hours.  An advertiser can determine which terms their ads will show and how much they are willing to spend either daily or monthly.  In addition, when you sign up for a Google AdWords account (Google’s account management system) for Pay Per Click advertising they also give you free tools that help you ensure that your ad campaign is successful.  These tools come in the form of a tracking script that placed on your conversion page will count conversions as well as Google Analytics which is able to track the dollar amount of conversions.

A well run Pay Per Click advertising campaign can generate substantial traffic and revenue for both eCommerce as well as professional service companies.  A great way to quickly get in front of potential customers with the ability to track every dollar spent, Pay Per Click campaigns should be considered a viable option of any online marketing strategy.

It is true that a Pay Per Click campaign that is not well run could be a real budget buster.  This is the reason that I plan on releasing more advanced techniques on how to ensure your campaign is set up correctly.  I also have a number of advanced Pay Per Click techniques that can be found on the True Online Presence You Tube Channel detailing how to set up and use some best practices. Finally, for those new to PPC, Google is currently offering $75 in free clicks when you spend your first $25.  This is for accounts have just opened in the last 14 days, so please contact me if you would like more information.

Still need help or looking for someone to bounce ideas off?  I am currently offering free marketing strategy sessions to those interested. Contact True Online Presence at 1-888-456-6943 to schedule.

Happy Marketing!


Andy Splichal is an online marketing strategist  with more than a decade and a half of experience helping companies increase their online presence and profitable revenues.  Although this blog focuses on driving profitable traffic through Google AdWords, True Online Presence offers additional services for lead generation as well as other proven marketing strategies customized for each client.