Pay Per Click for Beginners

by | Business, Marketing | 0 comments

The third in our “for beginners” series, serving the straight facts on the basics of marketing.

What is Pay Per Click?

Also known as “Cost Per Click”, Pay Per Click (PPC) is a form of marketing where an advertiser places ads on the platform of an online publisher, with the agreement that the publisher will be paid for each click generated by the advertisement. Typically, PPC is synonymous with Google Ads, due to the overwhelming dominance of the search engine, its power to attract clicks and therefore Google’s prevalent use by businesses seeking new customers.

That said, search engines are not the only place PPC advertisements can be found. Businesses may also make use of PPC arrangements on social media, as well as across the whole internet via so-called “display ads” on websites.

In the case of search engines or more specifically, with Google, advertisers often research specific keyword phrases that pertain to their target audience, then place a bid. The bid placed by a company tells Google how much they are willing to pay for a single successful click on a link in Google Ads. The type of bid determines where the ads show up in search results, with higher bidders advertisements taking up prime real estate, at the top of the results page. An example of this can be seen in the image below.

google ad
An example of a Google Ad at the top of the search results page

PPC ads found on search engines are text only, whereas display ads as well as social media ads can be a mix of images, video, animations and audio. Regardless of the admixture of media types used to create the PPC ad, the purpose is the same- to attract users to click the advertisement thereby activating a hyperlink which takes customers to a landing page for the business.

2 Common Variations of PPC

While PPC campaigns generate a fee for each individual successful click on a link, there are other payment arrangements that exist with mechanisms that work via a similar principle: CPM (cost per mille) and CPA (cost per acquisition).

With CPM, advertisers pay publishers a fixed fee per thousand impressions, NOT clicks. An impression occurs when a page with your advertisement is displayed to the user. In other words, advertisers utilizing CPM pay for people to ONLY see their ad, not necessarily to engage with it by clicking any associated link.

In cost per acquisition campaigns, the advertiser agrees to pay the publisher for each time a user performs pre-defined action, such as downloading an app. This particular model allows a business to laser focus their efforts on a specific desired outcome, such as increasing subscribership to a regular newsletter, for example.

Why is PPC important?

Here’s why:

Search Engine Optimisation is a struggle that takes months, if not years to refine and perfect. Companies can endlessly wrestle with the vast range of aspects that must be addressed in order to improve their search ranking on Google, or they can simply pay to immediately hit the coveted top spot on the search results page when their target keywords are entered by users.

Though regularly employed by veteran marketers, PPC is a beginner friendly advertising medium, that offers people a means of experimenting with various phrasing and platforms along with a wealth of useful data to track and measure the consumer response in real-time.

Clever selection of keywords can have an explosive positive impact on a brand, yielding immediate measurable results in both traffic and conversions.

Generally, pay per click is thought of as one of the most successful and omnipresent forms of advertising online.

How Pay Per Click Works

In the case of those utilizing Google Ads, a pay per click campaign usually involves the following basic steps:

Step 1) An advertiser defines their goal of their proposed campaign, such as increasing sign-ups, or driving up sales of a particular product.

Step 2) With the goal in mind, the advertiser researches and decides upon one or more platforms corresponding to the target audience.

Step 3) Research is done concerning what keywords will yield the most engagement. Keywords are bid upon, and a daily or monthly budget is defined.

Step 4) The PPC advert is written up and submitted to the search engine, along with the necessary links to the landing page of the company.

Step 5) Regular observation and refinement is undertaken over time in order to improve engagement and better target the key audience.

PPC can Smash Your Sales Goals in 5 Different Ways

Budget Friendly

With prices beginning at a few cents, and the ability to tailor your budget and define expenditure limits, PPC campaigns can be made to fit anyone’s budget.

Quick Results

As mentioned earlier, SEO takes months and years to pull off. Not so for PPC ads, which provide immediate results for anyone willing to place a satisfactory bid on a specific keyword or phrase.

Measurable results

A critical benefit of PPC marketing is that users typically receive a breadth of data regarding the performance of their ad, with numbers covering all the key metrics. Thus, entrepreneurs can closely track and tweak the rollout of their advertising to cull any underperforming elements.

No longer beholden to the mighty algorithm

The knowledge barrier to entry into SEO is daunting not only for the amount of factors which require consideration, but also the painful reality that “winning formulas” are subject to change, as Google regularly updates its search engine algorithm. When employing PPC, businesses sidestep this headache completely.

Reach the right people, at the right time

PPC allows you to dictate when and where your adverts show up, based on several factors such as location, type of device, keywords used, time of day, date and more. Crucially, this means that companies with a physical presence can laser target their surrounding areas while saving money through the use of less competitive key phrases that include the names of local towns and cities.

What are the Downsides?

It can’t all be peaches and cream. Here’s the downsides you’re looking at with this avenue:

Investment of time

You won’t just be settin’ n forgettin’ your PPC ads. Like a wild child at the daycare center, they’ll need regular supervision to really excel.

Wasted money

Going in all guns blazing without doing thorough keyword research, and hurling your cash at phrases you just think “should work”, is a recipe for an empty wallet. Luckily, you can hire people to do the research for you, or do the research yourself and make sure to set daily budget limits- a feature typically found on PPC platforms.

Learning curve

You will need to practice and refine your ability to not only research and rollout campaigns, but also effectively manage them. Unless you hire someone to help you out, PPC is not an avenue that you can throw money at and walk away, it won’t manage itself.


Getting the traffic is great and all, and PPC will help with that. But once the person is on your page, actually getting them to complete the purchase is on you.

Average Cost Of Pay Per Click?

From a few bucks to many thousands. Truth is, it’s a hard question to answer, though we can tell you what matters. It can be as cheap or expensive as you want it. If you are stony broke and only have a few dollars to throw into PPC advertising, you can do it. If you are reading this article while polishing your monocle and swimming in a pool filled with gold doubloons, you are a successful pirate. Yarrrrrrr. Also, you can do it.

In short, PPC accommodates all budgets, it just depends on how hard you want to swing for highly competitive keywords or digital real estate that attracts significantly higher bids and prices.

The Lingo- Key terms associated with PPC

PPC (Pay Per Click), CPC (Cost Per Click)

PPC or CPC is the price paid by the advertiser for each successful click on an ad placed on an online publishers platform.

CTR (Click Through Rate)

Expressed as a percentage, CTR refers to the amount of visitors that actually click an ad, out of the total number of people who see it displayed on the publisher’s platform. Some PPC ad publishers offer an arrangement whereby advertisers pay a price that corresponds to the CTR. Lower CTR’s attract lower fees, and vice versa for ads with a higher CTR.


As mentioned earlier, an impression occurs when a page with your advertisement is displayed to the user. In other words, the number of “impressions” is the number of times an ad has been seen, regardless of whether or not a visitor has clicked on the ad.


The act of dividing audiences according to various factors such as age, weight, sex, income, location, interests etc. PPC publishing platforms offer the ability to customize ad campaigns to adjust advertising according to the viewing audience and thereby target specific groups to increase engagement and interest.

Landing Page

The industry term that refers to the website page that the customer is taken to after clicking your ad. Landing pages must be optimized to increase conversion- the desired action you wish your customer to take towards a specific goal.


Generally, conversion is the desired action you wish your customer to take towards a specific goal. Most commonly however, the phrase refers to the action taken by a customer to complete a sale, to make a purchase.


Refers to the amount of times an ad is shown to an individual user during a specified period of time. Frequency should be set up so as to allow web visitors to be exposed to your ads, without feeling harassed or bombarded.

“In short, PPC accommodates all budgets, it just depends on how hard you want to swing for highly competitive keywords or digital real estate that attracts significantly higher bids and prices.”

Zee Concloo Zhon

Veterans and beginners alike can all profit from pay per click. Those looking for a trackable marketing avenue with the potential for explosive and immediate results that can scale to any budget, can’t go past this highly ubiquitous staple of the creative agency toolbox. Like the rest of the subjects mentioned in our “for beginners” series, if you are serious about your business thriving online, you will want to start employing pay per click ASAP.

Got a business? Looking for high impact marketing professionals to help you get your head around the complex art of creative marketing? We can help!


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