Pay-Per-Click Advertising:

What It Is and How It Works

 

payperclick_4649f67f8e8b8By now, you have probably heard all the enthusiasm and talk over Pay-Per-Click Advertising. If you haven't heard about this kind of advertising, then you've no doubt seen plenty of it in action on the web. Pay-Per-Click Advertising is that ever-changing, ever-present and seemingly mind-reading list of sponsored ads you see posted alongside your search engine results pages every time you conduct a search. I know I'm always impressed when I "Google" a phrase, and the search engine instantly offers up a list of countless businesses providing the exact product or service for which I'm searching. I've even seen this amazing "mind reading" in action in ad listings on Gmail, on blogs and elsewhere on the web.

The good news about Pay-Per-Click Advertising, or PPC, is that small businesses of all sizes can utilize its effectiveness with ease and little risk. It allows you to very affordably place an ad for your business on a search engine results page-and even appear on the same page with some of the "big boys" in your industry. And, PPC is proving to be one of the most successful kinds of new advertising we've seen in a long time.

 

What Is Pay-Per-Click Advertising?
PPC is advertising that you purchase to be placed on specific search engine results pages. There are several reasons that businesses of all sizes are seeing great results with this online advertising method:

Targeted
PPC Advertising is incredibly targeted unlike, say, a costly billboard you hope will be seen or an expensive radio ad you hope will be heard by potential customers in a sea of millions of distracted commuters who may or may not ever even visit your website. In contrast, PPC connects seeking customers with your product or service the precise second they are searching for it-24 hours a day, whether they're searching for your offerings at 2 a.m. or 2 p.m.

You can even set up your PPC to target local or regional audiences. There is no better way to drive traffic to your site on the spot-and the right traffic too!

Affordable
With PPC, you only pay when a searcher clicks through your business's displayed ad to your site. You do not have to pay for views or "impressions" of your ad.

For most of the popular search engines' PPC programs, the minimum price per click starts at 1 cent (up to around 50 cents) with a nominal activation fee (Google AdWords' is $5). Prices can get more costly if you bid on more popular keyword searches on more popular search engines. However, for the most part, you can stick to your own budget because there is no minimum spending requirement, and you can set maximum daily spending limits and costs per click. Of course, you do have to spend more to make more-just like with all forms of advertising-but PPC is much less risky than the big-buck advertising.

Very Fast
It can take months or years to climb the ranks of regular "organic" search engine lists. It can also take loads of hard work and search engine optimization strategizing and expertise. PPC gets your business listed alongside the higher ranked search engine much faster. You can sign up and usually start seeing and tracking results within a few hours. Furthermore, studies show that searchers often assume the top sponsored link is most relevant to their search. That means you can quite possibly see clicks and conversions very quickly.

Measurable
The most exciting part of using PPC over, say, radio or outdoor advertising is that it's easily and extensively measurable within a few hours of setting up your ad.

Most of the popular search engines with PPC Advertising programs include tools to manage your account and easily track its performance, and these features are getting better all the time. Already, you can effortlessly research keywords and check your account statistics, including impressions, click-through rates (CTR), conversion rates and costs-per-conversion (CPC). You can even follow a click all the way through to conversion (i.e., sale, information request, newsletter signup, etc.). Plus, you can schedule and maintain PPC ad campaigns and build customized reports based on overall account performance or individual campaign.

Having the ability to measure results optimizes every aspect of your advertising-from keyword status to ad campaign and/or website effectiveness.

Flexible
PPC Advertising is unsurpassed in its capacity to allow your business to continually fine tune every keyword phrase, ad and campaign. This is what makes it so effective.

If you don't make many conversions to sales with your first PPC ad, then you can finesse it and try again at a minimal cost to find which ones bring you the best return. Since PPC Advertising is low risk and flexible, you have a lot of leeway to try different angles, or even several simultaneously, to find which ones bring you the most conversion. Essentially, there are innumerable ways optimize PPC advertising so it works well for you.

How Do I Get Started With PPC Advertising?
There are several good keyword PPC programs out there. Google Adwords is the most popular one. It's easy to use and boasts an excellent rate of return. Some others include Yahoo! Search Marketing, Ask Sponsored Listings and Microsoft adCenter. Some product-based search engines include BizRate.com, Shopzilla.com and PriceGrabber.com. Some service-based search engines include NexTag and TripAdvisor. Of course, many keyword-based search engines can handle product and service searches as well.

The steps to getting started generally consist of:

Determining your PPC Advertising budget: Always consider how and where your dollars will be best spent to get you the best rate of return. You may have to pay a little more, but it can make all the difference if you can bid on keywords/phrases that will place your ad in one of the top three spots.


Choosing a search engine PPC program: Until you get familiar with using PPC, it's probably best to use one of the more popular search engines like Google or Yahoo!. They're easy to use and will set your business up for a higher level of beginner's success.


Brainstorming a list of possible keywords/phrases: Think specific rather than generic to really define your niche and attract the right customers for you. Before you begin a program, it's best to brainstorm your business from all angles. Being thorough at start will help you choose the best keyword/phrase for your PPC Advertising.


Defining your keywords/phrases: Use search engine tools to research and help you choose keywords based on ranking and cost. You can find loads of tips and information about choosing the best keywords on the Internet.


Writing your text-only ad: Be specific in your ad copy. Avoid generic language and extraneous punctuation (i.e., Big Sale!!! or Great Service!!!) and focus on your company's unique advantages or a special offer.


Creating a specified landing page: It's not always best to drop your clicking customers onto your home page in hopes that they find what they're looking for. Consider creating a landing page written specifically to the PPC customer, based on the keyword and/or a special promotion.

Testing your ad: Watch your stats, analyze them and get to know where your results are or are not coming from. You can always tweak your PPC Advertising as you go in order to get the most bang for your buck.

If you're a small business owner, PPC might be the advertising answer you've been looking for-whether you're building your online presence, seeking new customers or wanting to mingle with the "big boys" in your industry. PPC is the one fairly new option that is affordable, flexible and that seems to be working out just as well for the smaller business as for the "big boys" who are using it.


 

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