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What is PPC? A complete guide to
PPC marketing for
businesses

by Amber Dawson

If you’re a business owner that wants to get your brand or product seen while increasing traffic to your website, you should certainly consider PPC (pay-per-click) marketing. Google and Bing, promoting products and services.

PPC marketing is one of the quickest and most effective ways to generate leads for your business and reach new customers online, but there are many elements to consider before you get started. This guide to PPC marketing will explore what it is, how it works, and the costs involved.

What is PPC marketing?

PPC stands for pay-per-click and is an online advertising model where an advertiser only pays when someone clicks on their ad. You most commonly find these ads at the top of search engine results pages, such as Google and Bing, promoting products and services. However, PPC advertising also happens on social media networks like Facebook, and even on e-commerce sites like Amazon.

As you only pay if a user engages with your advert, PPC advertising allows you to get in front of an audience with the intent to buy, meaning the chance of conversion tends to be higher than other marketing methods like SEO (search engine optimization).

How much does PPC cost?

The cost of PPC advertising is not based on the money you have: you can’t simply buy your way to the top of the search engine results page (or SERPs). Ad rank is what determines your position on a SERP, and while your budget plays into this, search engines value user experience above all. The better your ad, the cheaper the cost will be to you.

Conversely, if your ad isn’t relevant to your audience, doesn’t help the user reach the right landing page, is badly written and features a poor choice of keywords, you will be charged more for it.

In the UK, the average cost-per-click on Google Ads sits somewhere between £0.66 and £1.32, but these costs will vary depending on the factors mentioned: your Quality Score, ad ranking, the bid price of keywords in your industry, and whether or not you use negative keywords, geo-targeting and ad scheduling.

When it comes to the cost of keywords, it depends on what you’re bidding on and how saturated the market is. For example, you can picture keyword bidding as a funnel. Vague, generic terms lie at the top – for instance, the keyword ‘calendar’. If you’re selling calendars, this would be a natural word to bid on. But this can encompass loads of things; phrases such as ‘buy calendar and ‘free calendar’ don’t offer a very targeted audience.

As you move from the top to the bottom of the funnel, you go from people who don’t know what they want to the people who do. But, the number of traffic also decreases the narrower it gets. The aim is to find the right part of the funnel for your business. It’s best to step away from the top of the funnel (which is expensive and broad), make use of your keyword match types and tighten your focus.

Other factors can impact the cost of PPC too. For instance, if you’re targeting several countries, or running large international campaigns, costs can soon increase dramatically. Additionally, PPC marketing requires constant investment to keep your ads running. As soon as you stop paying for them, they stop being seen. Costs can also increase if you’re bidding against other advertisers.

It’s worth noting that when PPC is done well, the results far outweigh the cost involved. For instance, if you pay £1 for a click, but the click results in a £200 sale, you’ll have made a large profit.

As mentioned previously, in order to create a cost-effective ad, you’ll need to make sure you have good creative, relevant keywords and enticing copy, as well as strong, related ad groups and if possible, handy ad extensions.

What are the different types of PPC?

There are many different types of PPC marketing and several different platforms that support it.

These include:

  • Paid search PPC:Placing your ad on the results pages of search engines like Google or Microsoft Bing is often one of the most popular forms of PPC and a proven approach to generating traffic and leads.
  • Social media PPC: You can reach huge audiences by placing a paid PPC ad on social media networks like Facebook or Instagram, with options that allow for specific demographic targeting.
  • Display advertising: These are banner, image or text ads that are displayed on other websites and link through to your website and product. They’re more commonly used for building brand awareness.
  • Remarketing PPC: Remarketing is when you use a PPC ad to re-engage, or re-target people that have already visited your website and are therefore interested in your product or service.
  • Price comparison websites: These work by gathering and displaying various products and offers from a number of providers in one place. Through this, you can access customers who are ready to buy a product or service like yours, though the disadvantage is that you’ll be up against competitors too.
  • Affiliate marketing:This method is where third-party ‘affiliates’ create PPC ads promoting your products or services and place them across search engines, price comparison sites, targeted content sites and high-traffic websites. It uses a performance-based model or Cost per Action (CPA), and requires ongoing management.

The method you use will depend on the business you have and your individual business goals or objectives. If you’re after leads - and need them fast - you may well want to opt for paid search PPC. If brand awareness is more your goal, display advertising would be an effective method to try.

The basics

PPC marketing comes with a wealth of benefits, the chief one being that it allows you to quickly increase your traffic and gain visibility to your audience without wasting your marketing budget.

The advantages of PPC include:

  • Quicker results: Paid search marketing is one of the quickest ways to reach your audience and generate leads. If you want leads now, this is an approach worth trying.
  • High position on page: When it comes to PPC ads, the highest bidder sits at the top of the SERP, so users will always see those results first, allowing you greater visibility over organic listings.
  • Building better ads for your business: With PPC ads, you have more control over the information and messaging you want people to see, like price, location, callouts and so on.
  • Better targeting: PPC provides a laser-targeted way of getting in front of potential customers, since ads can target by search keywords, time of day, day of the week, audience demographics, language, device and much more.
  • More efficient testing: With a PPC ad campaign, you can test and experiment with new products, landing pages, marketing messages and CTA (call-to-action) buttons, helping determine where the best results can be found.
  • Increased marketing intelligence: By using analytics software (like Google Analytics) to track your PPC campaign, you can see which keywords convert and at what percentage and cost. These insights can then be used to inform other advertising strategies to improve results all round.

Effective PPC strategies mean you can get results almost instantaneously, making PPC the ideal approach for smaller businesses and start-ups. If your primary goal is to win leads as quickly as possible, and you’re asking yourself: which is better, SEO or PPC? The answer in this case, is likely to be PPC. That’s not to say you should forego SEO content entirely, though. Read our PPC vs SEO guide to learn more about the differences between the two, and how you can make them work together.

It’s important to remember that a good PPC campaign depends upon strategic thinking and skill, especially when it comes to managing and monitoring your ads. Although there’s a cost involved in PPC, search engines and other platforms reward advertisers who create relevant, targeted PPC campaigns by charging them less for clicks. Of course, if you can save your business money by creating a successful PPC ad, the reward is a higher profit margin, so it’s worth doing it well.

PPC tips and advice: what to consider

When it comes to PPC, there are plenty of things to consider in order to ensure a campaign is successful. And it’s not just at the set-up stage where you’re thinking about keywords, your ad copy and placement. Your PPC campaigns will need constant monitoring to check how they are performing, along with reporting, so you can see what works well, and what may not be resonating with your audience.

Here are some of the most important factors to consider in PPC:

Keyword research

Choosing the right keywords for your campaign is one of the most important aspects of a campaign. They’re what marry you and your perfect customers together so be sure to do your research into what works best for your brand.

Keywords are essentially words or phrases that users search for on search engines like Google or Microsoft Bing. When creating paid search ads, you would aim to target keywords so when people search for them, your ads appear at the top of the page. There are various different types of keywords that you can experiment with, and all can provide influence over how effective your PPC campaign is. Our PPC Keyword Research guide provides everything you need to know on the different types of keywords you can use and why they’re so important.

When thinking about keywords for your campaign, it’s also important to consider negative keywords too - i.e. the types of keywords you don’t want to appear for i.e. ‘free,’ ‘cheap,’ ‘discount’ or keywords that are spelt the same, but mean different things, like glasses, for instance.

Ad groups and ad extensions

Whatever your industry, product or service, your business is made up of different categories. As a result, your ads need to be organised in the same way. If you just have general ad text that promotes a wide range of things, someone looking for just one thing on that list doesn’t feel directly spoken to. An ad that boasts the benefits of one particular product or service, on the other hand, feels a lot more personalised.

Ad groups help to ensure your ads are ultra-targeted, earn better ad placements on Google or whatever platform you're placing your ad on, and get more clicks.

Ad groups allow you to create ads around a theme and set of related keywords. For instance, as a cake maker, you wouldn’t advertise wedding cakes in the same ad as the pastries you make fresh every day. They’re two different audiences, and those looking to plan for their big day aren’t also going to be wandering past your store looking for a snack. By writing specific ad copy for specific customers, the people clicking on your ads will have more of a purpose. Ad groups are what ensures your ads show up in the right searches and to the people who are actually looking for what you’re offering.

Different Ad Groups

Ad extensions are another great way to bolster your PPC campaigns. These are free to use and allow you more ad space to give people more information. They come in many forms so you can adopt those that are best for your business. It’s worth noting that extensions don’t show all the time. They only show when Google predicts that they will improve your performance and a minimum Ad Rank is met.

An ad extension could be in the form of a CTA, a location address, additional copy, direct links, or a review or rating.

Location information


Good if you have a physical store you want to direct people to. Links to business details page which can include your opening hours etc.

Location advertisement

Good if you have a physical store you want to direct people to. Links to business details page which can include your opening hours etc.

Extra text


Cram extra benefits into your ads with callout extensions such as “free delivery” or “24/7 customer support.”

Extra text advertisement

Cram extra benefits into your ads with callout extensions such as “free delivery” or “24/7 customer support.”

Call buttons


By adding your phone number to your ad, you’ll encourage people to act immediately and call your business right now.

Call button advertisement

By adding your phone number to your ad, you’ll encourage people to act immediately and call your business right now.

Ratings


Show ratings and reviews from other customers to quickly build trust.

Call button advertisement

Show ratings and reviews from other customers to quickly build trust.

Direct links


Use this to link people directly to specific pages on your site, such as your opening hours, product page or your order page.

Direct advertisement

Use this to link people directly to specific pages on your site, such as your opening hours, product page or your order page.

Ad copy

How well your ads are written and how effectively they communicate your product or service offering is key. Furthermore, where you take your potential customers to from your ads is just as important as the ad itself. No matter how good your campaigns are, you’ll lose people if you take them to a page they don’t expect. For instance, if your ad boasts of a special offer on a product, take them to that product page rather than your website homepage. If they have to hunt around, they’re more likely to leave.

Ensure your landing page is bold, and benefit-driven, while the features of the landing page should ideally include strong imagery, clear CTAs, and great reviews. Reviews and stats can help to build authority and trust in your brand, helping to turn leads into customers in a matter of minutes.

Setting goals and metrics

Before you start your PPC journey, it’s important to set goals and understand how you’re going to measure your success. Is your goal simply to increase traffic? Win new leads? Or gain brand awareness? These are the questions you need to be asking yourself before getting started.

You should continually monitor your ads to see what’s performing and converting well, and what isn’t. Take the time to review costly, under-performing PPC keywords, and shut them off in favour of keywords that are proven to be delivering ROI for your business.

Managing your PPC campaigns

In order to manage your PPC campaigns effectively, it’s essential you consider reporting as a key tool in order to improve.

Reporting is your eyes and ears on the ground; how you figure out what’s performing and converting and what isn’t. After all, how can you make changes if you don’t know what’s going on? Without a strategy, you won’t know what’s made things better or worse.

Having a grip on your key metrics is a major part of it. But it can be frustrating trying to interpret a wall of numbers. This is where reporting makes all the difference. By finding the best report for your advertising, you can get up-to-date data on the pivotal aspects of your campaigns.

Using a PPC tool can help your business execute and manage its PPC efficiently and successfully. With a free Adzooma account, you can create, optimise and track your PPC ad campaigns, as well as spot opportunities for improving and optimising content on your website. You can also bolster your campaign results with our insightful reports, strategic suggestions and rule-based automation features. These can then be sent on to clients and colleagues, with the templates you’ve set up able to be rerun with new data whenever you need, saving you hours of time.

PPC for small businesses

Refine your audience
Refine your audience

Refine your audience

Refine your audience

This helps you run relevant ads by writing stronger ad copy which pre-qualifies the traffic you get and means you pay less for better leads.

Build brand awareness
Build brand awareness

Build brand awareness

Build brand awareness

Brand awareness is an important step before you start selling otherwise people won’t trust you. A great way to do this is through original and engaging content e.g a blog, social media.

Advertise on social media
Advertise on social media

Advertise on social media

Advertise on social media

Don’t just run campaigns on Google or Bing, but make the most of social media and the different audiences they have to offer.

Create dedicated landing pages
Create dedicated landing pages

Create dedicated landing pages

Create dedicated landing pages

Drive your ad traffic to pages made specifically for them. This means you can match your ad headline to your webpage and increase the likelihood of visitors converting.

Repurpose visuals for display ads
Repurpose visuals for display ads

Repurpose visuals for display ads

Repurpose visuals for display ads

Use visuals you already have to create display ads: your audience are already familiar with them and you will save time and money. Plus, display ads are a great way to showcase your products.

What are the best ad networks?

As mentioned, there are plenty of ad networks you can utilise for PPC marketing. Google being the most popular when it comes to paid search, as well as social media platforms like Facebook.

This is because these tech powerhouses have huge followings and allow advertisers access to their audiences. Google can help you to find new customers, while Facebook helps new customers find you.

Others networks include:

  • Microsoft Bing Ads
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest

When it comes to deciding which to invest in, the answer will depend upon a number of factors, like the user base of the network, the volume the ad will be serving, the creative opportunities available to you, and your individual business’ budget and goals.

It’s likely your business will benefit from using a combination of networks where possible, since they all differ in terms of audience, reach, targeting, price and placement.

PPC FAQS

How can I learn PPC?

It can take time to understand PPC in full and get to grips with all the different moving parts, but doing this is essential in being able to build and optimise a successful campaign. You can learn more about PPC with some of our articles:

How a solid PPC marketing strategy can lead to successful campaignsHow to choose the best PPC management company5 brilliant examples of PPC campaignsPPC budgeting: how to do it the smart wayHow to get the most out of PPC for small businessesHow to create a long-term PPC strategy you can stick to

Spend time understanding how to launch and optimise a campaign, set goals and measure your performance, and you could soon be enjoying the results of increased traffic and conversions.

And if you’re ready to get started, create an account to use Adzooma’s free PPC tool today.

What is a good pay-per-click rate?

A good click-through-rate for paid ads will vastly depend upon variables like where the ad is placed, how long it’s up for, your ad’s position and your industry average. It can be calculated by dividing the number of clicks by the number of impressions, and then multiplied by 100 to convert the number into a percentage.

You can find out more about CTR, why it matters in PPC and how to improve yours in our definitive CTR guide.

With an Adzooma account, you’ll see a better PPC CTR, since you can use the Opportunities feature to enhance your results.

From the analysis we found for both Google Ads and Microsoft Ads, the click-through rate for accounts connected to the Adzooma platform was around 6% and 3.7% respectively, which if you’re up on your industry averages, far exceeds the 1.91% and 2.83% you’re expected to see.

What are the best PPC strategies?

There’s no doubt about it, having a solid PPC strategy can mean a more successful campaign, and as a result, a better ROI for your business.

The best PPC strategies will depend upon the products or services you’re offering, your objectives and your audience, but as the above article explains, there are some best practice approaches that can help you to nail your PPC campaigns.

These include:

  • Choosing the right keywords
  • Making use of long tail keywords and negative keywords
  • Writing high quality copy for your ads
  • Linking to the most relevant landing page
  • Making use of ad extensions
  • Using the right platform for your audience i.e it could be Facebook ads Google Ads or Amazon
  • Making your ad highly targeted to your audience
  • Effective use of CTAs (calls to action)
  • Create an Adzooma account to help best optimise and improve your ads

You can and should also use A/B testing to see what works best with your audience, taking those learnings to improve your ads going forward.

What is Quality Score and why does it matter?

Quality Score is one of the most significant metrics in reaching the top position in Google Ads, and is therefore crucial to PPC. A high Quality Score can lead to better-performing campaigns by ensuring that your ads get displayed in the right places.

Your Quality Score is a number between 1 and 10 (10 being the best and 1 being the worst) which you can find on your Google Ads account under the Quality Score column.

Quality Score is an aggregated estimate of your overall performance in ad auctions. It’s used by Google to determine the placement of your ads in the SERPs and can impact the amount of money that you pay on ads before you start seeing results.

Quality Score is calculated using data from any past campaigns as well as the use of keywords. It acknowledges a combination of three things:

  • Your ad relevance
  • Your expected CTR
  • Your landing page experience

Ad relevance is calculated by measuring how closely related your keyword is to your advert. The more related your keywords are to your ads, the higher your quality score. Expected CTR determines how likely your keywords are to result in clicks. The average CTR for search ads is 1.91%, while the average CTR for display ads is 0.35%. Landing page experience, meanwhile, is a measure of how well your landing page correlates with your ad and keywords, i.e. does the text on the landing page relate to the keywords you have used?

A good quality score is important because it affects how well your ad campaign performs; lower scores will result in wasted ad spend, while higher scores mean a lower cost-per-click, which in turn increases your ROI (return on investment).

Read our handy Quality Score guide to learn more about the metric.

What are PPC Scripts?

PPC scripts are pieces of JavaScript that allow you to save time on your PPC campaigns by automating manual tasks. They can do everything from pause ad groups, to add in new keywords and manage your bids. Just a few lines of code can save you time and money.

You don’t need any coding knowledge to use them – many PPC scripts are pre-made and available on the internet. Better yet, there are some great free ones that you can make the most of to get you started.

Creating and running your first Google Ads script can be as easy as editing one of the pre-made scripts from Google’s library. Or, you can create your own custom script with parts of other scripts.

How to add Google Ads script

Is PPC better than SEO?

There are several key differences between PPC and SEO, and deciding which to use will depend upon your individual business goals, however, where possible, it can actually be beneficial to employ a strategy for both.

SEO stands for search engine optimisation, a process that is used to drive ‘organic’ traffic to a website from search engines like Google or Bing. Unlike PPC, you don’t pay for SEO traffic. Instead, businesses use SEO practices - such as optimising the content on their website or increasing its speed - to rank higher on a search engine’s results page (SERP).

Performing SEO is a worthwhile investment, so long as you’re willing to wait a while for results. PPC advertising meanwhile, will enable results much faster, making it an ideal method for smaller businesses and start-ups. SEO is really more about playing the long game, since it takes time to populate your site with content and build brand authority naturally.

Read our guide to find out more about the differences between PPC and SEO and which is better for your business.

Which PPC experts can I follow?

The best way to stay up to date in the field of PPC and Google Ads, is to follow newsletters, blogs, and experts on the topic.

By staying up to date with the trends, you can pick up tips and tricks to incorporate into your campaigns and make them even better.