Paid Search/PPC Explained

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Paid Search Explained:
The SMB’s Guide to Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC)

Online advertising is the best way to reach customers who are actively looking for your services or products.

There are many forms of online advertising, the two most important of which are SEO and Paid Search – types of advertising that revolve around search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

In this chapter we’re going to take a look at the paid search form of advertising, covering what it is, how it can help your business, and the different ways that you can use paid search to become visible.

To put into perspective how important Pay Per Click advertising is, here are some stats!

[one_third]93% of online experiences start with a search engine.
People now use the internet as their number one source for information. As well as finding answers to all kinds of questions online, people use the internet to discover new products and brands.  If you’re not there you won’t be found. Source

[/one_third][one_third]By 2018, internet advertising will be set to overtake TV as the largest advertising segment.
TV advertising works wonders for business, but it’s expensive. Internet advertising (pay per click specifically) is an affordable way to make sure potential customers can easily finds you. Source [/one_third]

[one_third_last]On average businesses make £1.27 of revenue for every 63 pence they spend.

Advertising your business online, whether it’s on a search engine or a social media platform, is generally pretty cheap.  Advertising online can be an extremely cost-effective way of reaching new audiences.  [/one_third_last]

What does PPC mean?

Every search engine with a large chunk of market share accepts paid listings. A paid listing guarantees that your website will appear in the top results for a search term within one day or less and are the most popular way for businesses to gain visibility in a short amount of time.

Simply put: They are used to buy visitors to your website.

These paid listings are known as Pay Per Click (PPC) ads.


Google Ad examples

They’re distinguished by the little yellow sign in each search you perform on Google and often show either at the top of the page or to the right.

Google Paid ad example

Bing Ad examples

Bings ads are distinguished by little gray Ad next to the search result.

Bing Paid ad example

A business will place bids on certain keywords or phrases that they think their target audience will type into a search engine. The example shown above uses the search term ‘builders Manchester’.

When a search term like this is typed into a search engine the results displayed will include both paid ads and natural listings. Natural, or organic listings aren’t paid for, they are websites that the search engines identify as being highly relevant to the search term according to a huge number of factors that pages are ranked using. Ranking highly organically is often a wonderful boon for business, but it’s extremely difficult to do and often takes a very long time to achieve. Ranking in paid search, however, is instant.

Below is an example where paid and natural listings are displayed in search results.

The natural listings are highlighted in blue, and the paid are in pink. We’ve covered a bit more obout SEO further down in our PPC vs. SEO section.


In paid search, or ‘PPC’, you pay the publisher (most likely Google, Bing, or Yahoo) a small amount of money every time someone clicks on your advertisement. So if I was to click on an ad listed in the paid section, the business would pay for that click. Hence the name ‘Pay Per Click’.

Once your PPC campaign is up and running successfully, the small fee that you pay should no longer matter. The visits to your site will be worth more than the advert itself. For example, if you’re paying £1.60 for every click, but those clicks are converting into a £160 sale, you have made a substantial profit.

Of course, not every click will convert into a sale, but if done correctly your advertisement should be funnelling customers straight into your website who are looking for your service or product.

How can PPC help your business?

The most obvious advantage is that PPC drives relevant traffic to your website; people who are on the hunt for the service you offer. But there are many more reasons to use paid search.

Instant results – PPC ads are without a doubt the quickest way to drive traffic to your website. Compared to an SEO campaign which can take months to develop and integrate and then even longer to come into fruition, pay per click advertising ensures that you appear in search results instantly.

Managing your budget – No business has unlimited funds. The beauty of PPC ads is that you can tailor your budget based on sales goals, cut off spending on keywords that aren’t converting, and ensure that you never overspend.

Complete control – Pay Per Click offers businesses complete control and flexibility over their advertising campaigns. If you offer seasonal products, you can create a bespoke seasonal campaign that ensure your advertisements only appear over a certain period of time. You can track successes and failures too, helping make sure that the keywords you choose offer the best return on investment.

Planning SEO – PPC is the ideal opportunity to test keywords, allowing you to decide whether a complete site optimisation campaign is worth the time and money. It also allows you to drive traffic to two different pages in order to find out which one converts at the highest rate.

Advertising with Google

If we are talking about advertising on search engines (and Pay Per Click specifically) then the first and most important port of call is Google. It’s the biggest search engine by a long way. So big in fact, that Google, on average, processes over 40,000 search queries every single second. In contrast, Bing (Google’s closest search competitor) process just 927 searches per second.

There are a number of different ways in which to advertise with Google. Those include:

  • Mobile Ads
  • Display Ads
  • Video & Youtube Ads
  • Search Ads

We are going to focus on search ads for this section of the guide, but we’ll cover each of the above in another chapter.

Search adverts are shown, as we said before, at the top and to the right of a page. In Google, these adverts are managed using the Google AdWords tool.

Google AdWords – A basic overview

Adwords is the tool that lets you choose where the ad appears, set your budgets, and measure how successful a campaign is. With it you’ll manage your whole PPC campaign from start to finish in Google Search.

Setting up an account is fairly simple, but take note: you are going to have to dedicate some time to your AdWords account for a few weeks. Once it’s up and running, you can relax and watch those hits come rolling in. But to start with, some elbow grease is required.

Check out our guide to setting up your very own Google Adwords Account here.

How does AdWords Work?

Using AdWords, you will bid on relevant keywords and pay for each and every click on your advertisement. When a web surfer enters a search, Google will explore AdWords advertisers (just like you!) and choose the most appropriate based on an advertiser’s Ad Rank. This ‘rank’ is decided based on the amount a business is willing to spend (CPC Bid) and the relevance of your site, its click-through-rate, and the landing page quality (Quality Score). The higher your quality score, the more ad clicks you’ll get at lower costs.

So Google places your ad based on how much you spend and how relevant and good your site is. They charge you based on the Ad Rank (your CPC bid + quality score) of the person below you and your own quality score.

There are a lot of factors that decide how well your campaign will do, but you can achieve success by focusing on three main things.

Keyword relevance – Creating keyword groups and ad text that is both accurate and relevant.

Page quality – Creating landing pages with relevant content and clear a clear call-to-action, each designed for specific searches.

Quality score – This is Google’s rating of the relevance and quality of your landing pages, PPC campaign, and keywords. The higher your quality score, the more ad clicks you’ll get at lower costs.

Google ad words dashboard

Keyword Research

One of the most time-consuming and important of the three main things above is keyword research. Remember: the entirety of your campaign is based around the keywords you choose.

The people who see the best results from PPC ads are always growing and refining their PPC keyword list.

Let’s backtrack a little here. What is a keyword?

The keyword is the term that people will type into Google when looking for a product or service. ‘Builders Manchester’ is a keyword that may be typed into the search field when a customer is looking for a building service in that specific area.

Keyword Example in Google Search bar

A keyword can have of thousands of variants, with some being searched more than others. The longer your PPC keyword list, the more area you’re going to cover. You should regularly perform new keyword research identifying other phrases and search terms that may be of use to you.

Creating a keyword list for the first time? Your list should be:

Relevant – If you’re a builder in Manchester the keyword ‘hairdressers Nuneaton’ is in no way relevant. Keywords that aren’t a relevant fit for your business will drive the wrong traffic to your website. The keyword you bid on should be as closely related to the service or product you sell as possible.

Open – You want a keyword list that can always be refined and adjusted so that you can tailor specific campaigns and adjust failing ones.

Inclusive of long-tail searches – Long-tail keywords are less common and more specific. ‘Builders skip hire Manchester’ for example is a longer, more specific, less searched keyword. They still account for a lot of search-driven traffic, though, so shouldn’t be neglected. They’re cheaper too because there’s not as much competition!

Bing Ads – A basic overview

Bing Ads does much the same as Google AdWords, only this time, for you guessed it… Bing.

bing resultsThe adverts shown in the pink box are paid adverts in Bing. As you can see, they’re placed in almost the exact same location as Google’s paid ads. Bing Ads lets you manage your budget, bid on keywords, and measure success, just like AdWords.


Just because Bing has a smaller market share than Google doesn’t mean you should neglect it, though. Bing Ads still reach up to 20 million unique searchers in the UK; a lot of potential custom. One shouldn’t be used over the other either. For the most success, Bing should be used alongside Adwords, ensuring that your marketing campaign is reaching users on both search engines.


We briefly touched on SEO earlier in this chapter and have looked at it in detail in our guide to SEO here.

For the sake of our guide on PPC, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of PPC over SEO.

First up, a quick SEO definition: SEO is the art of getting a website to rank highly on Google without paying the search engine directly (as you do in PPC). This is known as ranking organically.

Is one better than the other?

Both PPC and SEO are useful, but is one more useful than the other?

That depends on your business’s goals. Customers that find you ‘naturally’  are often much more likely to trust your business and buy from you. Plus, web surfers are more likely to click on an organic listing rather than a paid listing. Actually, 70% of search engine users report visiting natural listings every day.

The problem is that SEO isn’t free. In fact, it’s often the more expensive of the two because it requires specialist work and a serious amount of time and effort.

In contrast, pay per click ads can deliver instant traffic at a cost that you can adjust and tailor. The con is that you may have to spend quite a lot of money initially to ensure that your PPC campaign offers a return on investment and not every click turns into a sale, which can be a problem if a lot of the wrong customers click on your ad.

Pay per click is an incredible way to get a jump-start on traffic. SEO is the ideal way to develop brand and bring in high converting traffic, but if your website is new, it’s going to take you a long time to achieve.

Assess where your business is at, analyse your budget and decide from there.

Round up

It’s fast, adjustable, and it works. PPC is one of the most effective forms of online advertising out there. But it requires learning. You need to get to know tools like AdWords, understand keyword importance, and get to grips with the correct amount of budgeting. And not every business has time for that.

Add People offer small businesses PPC campaigns that work. In fact, we are so confident in our ability, we guarantee to improve your campaign’s performance in just three months.

To kick-start your website’s PPC advertising, contact us here or call us directly on 08450 30 44 44.