PPC, or pay-per-click, marketing can be a cost-effective and productive use of online ad spend, but only if you know how to put it to work for you. PPC advertising requires a holistic strategy that supports your other marketing efforts and can take months to perfect. At Lead to Conversion™, we receive many questions about online advertising and how to get started, which led our experts to create this ultimate guide to answer your specific questions about PPC best practices.
What is a PPC bid?
A PPC bid is the amount you’re willing to pay per click to win an ad placement related to your keyword. How much you have to bid depends on a variety of factors, including the popularity of the keywords, the industry you are in and the amount of competition. The price you bid per click can range from as low as a dollar to over twenty dollars per click. Again, this will vary on your industry and competition, plus you don’t always pay the max bid.
What is Ad Rank, and how does it work?
Ad Rank is important because it determines where your ads show up on a page. Not every location is equal; above-the-fold or above-the-search-results positions tend to be more valuable, for example. A low Ad Rank can also mean your ad doesn’t show up at all, especially if you’ve got stiff competition for the keyword. As with all its other search-related calculations, Google has a complex formula for determining Ad Rank that it doesn’t make completely public.
Here are some things that come into play to determine the rank:
- The amount you bid
- Expected CTR
- Relevance of your ad to keywords (and the search, user and page)
- Landing page experience
- The context of the search (including the person’s location, time of search and inherent nature of the search)
Basically, your bid amount and the quality of your ads and landing page experience will determine how Google will rank your ads.
Google is always trying to put the most relevant content forward, and that means that a high enough Ad Rank related to relevance could put you above the competition even if they bid higher for the keyword. The takeaway here is that quality definitely matters.
What is CPC, and how is it determined?
CPC stands for cost-per-click: the amount you’re charged each time someone clicks on your ad. One of the best things about PPC marketing is that you only pay when people click on advertisements, and not simply to have your ad displayed. CPC is determined per click, and the cost depends on your Ad Rank and what other advertisers are bidding on the ad space at the time. If your Ad Rank qualifies you for a specific space, and three other advertisers are also bidding for that space at the same time, your cost will be 1 cent above the next-highest bidder (if you win the bid).
Everything moves quickly, so the cost of one ad displayed to one user isn’t necessarily the same as the next ad because bidders could have changed. Since cost-per-click varies, we usually talk about the average CPC: how much on average are those clicks costing you. Max CPC is also important; you can set your max cost and you won’t be charged above that for clicks, though you might lose to bidders with a higher max CPC.
What is CTR, and how is it determined?
CTR is click-through-rate. It’s a ratio of how many times your ad was seen (impressions) versus how many times people clicked on the ad. A low CTR could mean your ad:
- Isn’t being displayed to the right audience
- Doesn’t have engaging enough copy
- Isn’t in the best location on pages
How do you find the right keywords?
If your campaign is not meeting your KPI goals you are probably not targeting the right keywords. You can do keyword research via a variety of tools and audience research. Once a baseline of terms have been established, the next step is to start testing these keywords. You might be surprised about which keywords are successful and which ones are not. During this time, our team will tweak and monitor your campaign to ensure it’s preforming as expected and will continue to refine your target keywords.
What is A/B PPC ad testing?
A/B testing occurs when you create two identical ads and make a minor change to one. You then run both ads and analyze the results to see which one worked best. Continually updating your A/B testing lets you find the PPC ad setup with the highest performance, but you can’t necessarily assume that process will remain the best. It’s a good idea to test ads from time to time. Some aspects you might test include keywords, ad copy, ad size and shape, images and placements.
What’s the right number of keywords for an ad group?
Unfortunately, there are not pay-per-click expert tips that provide an easy formula for determining how many keywords should be in your ad group. Some experts say no more than 20; others say they like to stick to around 15 but have some successful ad groups with as many as 50 keywords. The truth is that quality does matter over quantity: keywords must be relevant to your ad copy and campaign. If you start adding keywords that aren’t relevant, you probably have too many.
Should you place PPC bids on your own brand name?
Many people don’t realize that bidding on their own brand name can be a viable (and low-cost) way to boost CTR and conversions from ads. It’s typically easier to win the top ad position for your own brand name because the competition is usually lower. Plus, the searches for those keywords are going to be extremely relevant to what you have to offer, which tends to make the Ad Rank higher. In this case, placing bids on your own brand name is a personal choice.
However, there are some situations where you may need to place bids on your brand. If you’re doing well and attracting a lot of search traffic, your competition might start bidding on your brand name to get in on the action. In this case, your bid would be more defensive; you want to take the ad spots so they don’t.
Does PPC replace SEO?
No, PPC is only one form of online marketing. Just about any person offering pay-per-click expert tips will tell you that paid ads, paid searches or any similar efforts aren’t a full replacement for organic SEO that lets users find you in the search engines.
Typically, PPC and SEO work together as part of a comprehensive online marketing plan. For example, you might use PPC for fast results while you’re waiting for SEO efforts to return results. And remember, your landing pages and other content should be relevant to your PPC ad campaign, or you’re going to spend money and effort getting click-throughs only to have people bounce from your page within seconds.
It sounds complicated? What if I don’t have time to run my own PPC marketing?
Our expert team is ready to help you design and launch PPC marketing campaigns that reach the right audience and drive a robust return. Find out more about our PPC advertising services and the benefits of this cost-effective solution to online marketing.