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What is PPC and Why Should You Use It?

what is ppcWhat does PPC stand for?

In the realm of online advertising, “PPC” stands for “pay-per-click.” This means just what it says . . . you pay the owner of the real estate where your ad is placed (search engine, website, app, etc.) a fee for each click your ad receives. In the offline world, advertisers traditionally pay owners of advertising space based on impressions (typically cost per thousand impressions). This is because it is much harder to tie direct customer actions to specific ads, like if a billboard or TV ad caused someone to go to the store and purchase your product. But since clicks on online ads can be tracked and analyzed, paying per click is a much easier system. Therefore, you will find most ad platforms offering this bidding option as the default (although there are other options to choose from).

Beyond just the definition, PPC provides immediate traffic and control. Within minutes of setting up and enabling PPC campaigns, your ads will be eligible to appear and acquire traffic to your site, which isn’t the case with other online marketing channels. With SEO, you’ve got to optimize your site and build authority over time. With social media, you’ve got to build a following, build relationships and produce worthy content that cuts through the social media noise. But with PPC, you start getting traffic right away from an audience that is interested in what you offer.

Also, there’s no other online marketing channel with the amount of control and flexibility over your traffic that PPC platforms offer you. While SEO and social media do provide some control, it’s not quite as much as PPC. With SEO, you optimize your site for keywords, but you have no control over where your site gets ranked for them or the width and breadth of keywords that might drive traffic to your site. With social media, you can’t control how many impressions your posts receive. But with PPC, you have the most control over both your visibility and the markets you’re visible in.

There is one danger when it comes to these advantages. PPC platforms are usually highly complex systems that require extensive training to use them optimally. If one doesn’t fully understand how to best take advantage of these systems, there can be some expensive consequences.

Why would I do PPC on keywords where I already have organic rankings?

If the overall value you could gain from occupying both Organic and Paid real estate is better than what you could gain by having an Organic listing only (after subtracting PPC ad costs), then it would be a mistake not to run ads on those keywords. You’re just leaving money on the table.

If after analyzing you find this is the case for you, there’s a question you should answer first in order to come to the correct conclusion. Have you optimized both Organic & Paid Search for above average performance? If you haven’t, then you’re not doing a fair analysis of the situation. You’re making judgments about a situation that isn’t performing optimally in the first place. This can cause you to come to a faulty conclusion about the potential of your market. But if you’ve done a stellar job of optimizing both channels, then you can trust the data you collect will paint you an accurate picture of how having both listings for your keywords will perform versus having an Organic listing only.

The overwhelming feedback among search engine marketers is that two optimized listings on a search results page (SERP) almost always drives more value for a business than having an Organic listing only, even after subtracting click costs. [Tweet This]

When you think about it, there are many reasons why this is the case. When a searcher performs a search, they scan the results looking for many things – relevance, familiarity, credibility, benefits, etc. – before deciding where to click. When a brand has more than one listing, they occupy more real estate with which to fill the page with the those things, making it more likely their listings will stand out from the crowded page. Just having more than one listing in itself communicates popularity and credibility in the mind of the searcher.

This creates a synergy that has been detailed in many case studies. To summarize a study done by Google across a wide range of accounts, an average of 89% of ad clicks are incremental when there is also an organic listing for the same site on the first search results page. This means that when the Paid ad is paused, 89% of the clicks the ad would have gotten are not made up for by the Organic listing by itself. That’s great if you’re losing money on your Paid ads. But if your PPC account is being managed by a professional that’s helping it make a substantial profit, then that’s 89% of the profit you would have made from the ad that disappears.

Want to see what the results would be for you? Run a test where you rotate pausing and enabling your ad for a keyword or groups of keywords in which you know you rank highly in Organic Search results. While not a perfect method because of the lack of specific keyword analytics for Organic Search traffic, you can analyze the trend of visits and value driven from your landing page. If a specific keyword or group of keywords drive most of the value to your landing page, you should see a rotating trend when you enable and pause your ads that will give you insight into how the overall business value of your page changes.

Lastly, a huge advantage to running PPC ads on valuable keywords for your business is the ability to quickly and easily run tests for marketing messages. Over time, you’ll find the best angles/words to use with searchers. You can then use that knowledge to inform your Organic Search, landing page, and overall marketing strategy to your customers.

2 Responses to What is PPC and Why Should You Use It?

  1. I think more emphasis needs to be placed on: “While not a perfect method because of the lack of specific keyword analytics for Organic Search traffic”.

    Thats the major issue with SEO.. you don’t have transparency on the data.. how can you measure what you can’t see?

    • Mike Fleming
      Mike Fleming says:

      William –

      Yes, it’s more challenging to analyze results when important data like keywords is hidden. But since we can’t control it, we just have to do our best to work around it. If you’ve optimized a page for specific keywords and you have search volume and rankings data, you can get a pretty good idea of what keywords are sending traffic to your page. Also, analytics tools have begun to put out workarounds for this as well. I know Moz Analytics has a landing page report that estimates keyword traffic to site pages. Hope that helps.