PPC - you gets what you pays for

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Pay Per Click (PPC) was briefly discussed in the second chapter of the eMarketing 101 series: The Arrows in the eMarketer's Quiver. We highlighted that its beauty lies in the fact that you pay purely on a performance basis. While it isn't really all as simple as that this chapter will provide you with a solid introduction to PPC, bidding, campaigns, testing and strategies.

What is PPC?

Pay Per Click (PPC) is an advertising system offered by Search Engines in which an advertiser pays for each click on their advert. PPC adverts can be displayed on Search Engine results pages (search targeted) and content websites (content targeted).

  • Search targeted refers to search engine results pages (SERPs), where a user has searched for a specific keyword e.g. "car" and is delivered a page listing relevant PPC adverts that sit alongside the Organic Search results
  • Content targeting refers to PPC adverts being displayed on content pages e.g. "car for sale" adverts being displayed on a website that contains content about cars

PPC adverts are most often displayed at the top, bottom and right-hand side of the SERPs. The position of the advert on the page is determined by a bidding system.

Bidding Wars

Although bidding higher amounts of money will generally result in a higher position, some Search Engines consider several factors in the ranking of adverts. Google, for example uses a "Quality Score" which considers the click-through rate (CTR) of your advert as well as the relevance of your ad text to both the keywords and your website's landing page. The "Quality Score" also helps Google determine your cost per click (CPC). The less relevant your advert and landing page are, the more you will have to pay to display that advert in a high position.

The bidding price for the keyword is also highly variable. General keywords like "car rental" are more expensive and will generate more impressions than a specific keyword phrase like "cheap rental car in cape town". As more and more companies adopt PPC marketing, keyword bidding prices are increasing and advert positioning is becoming more competitive. Therefore it is important to focus your budget on attracting the right type of people to your site by outlining a clear PPC strategy.

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