The Basics of PPC Management
The Evolution of PPC Management
When engaging in pay-per-click (PPC) management, it can be helpful to know about the evolution of PPC. The title of first-site-to-use-PPC is in dispute. But the first documented version was on a web directory site called Planet Oasis in 1996. At the end of 1997, 400 major brands were paying anywhere between tenths of a penny to a quarter per click in addition to a placement fee via the site.
The idea continued to develop through Goto.com and other sites until Google began its search engine advertising in December of 1999. Almost a year later AdWords was introduced. AdWords has grown rapidly and is the dominate PPC provider. It generates $45 billion of Google’s $66 billion in annual revenue. PPC management went from being a niche skill to an important part of operating online.
In 2010, in an effort to combat Google AdWords, Microsoft and Yahoo combined to use Microsoft’s Bing search and engine and the PPC platform became called AdCenter. You’ll likely do most of your PPC management through AdWords, as that’s the dominant platform.
PPC isn’t the only metric to measure cost-effectiveness and profitability of internet marketing. However, it has advantages over models like cost per impression in that clicks can be used to gauge interest and attention.
But what is pay-per-click? It’s simple! Every time your ad is clicked, sending a visitor to your website, you pay the search engine a small fee. BUT you only pay for actual clicks.
Just like that Google delivers customers to you through your ads 24/7/365. Imagine targeted customers coming to your site while you drive, when you shower, even when you’re asleep. Click, click, click.
When PPC is working correctly, the fee for each click becomes trivial, because the visit is worth more than what you pay for it. In other words, if you pay $2 for a click, but the click results in a $100 sale, then you’ve made a hefty profit.
PPC management, while it may initially sound simple, building a winning PPC campaign requires a lot of upfront work. A good campaign targets exactly the viewers you want, so you’re only paying for clicks from well-targeted potential customers. Google and other search engines even reward you by charging you less per click if your campaign is intelligently designed and useful to users.
Important PPC Terminology
- Keyword: the word or phrase you use to target. The best way to think of keywords (and everything else) is as the things you type into Google. Even “Is Brad Pitt still single” – or more like “Brad Pitt single still” – are keywords, although I’m not sure how you’d monetize those.
- Copy: Fancy industry term for the words in the ad.
- Headline: The big line of text that announces your ad.
- CTR (click through rate): A key metric.This refer to the number of times someone saw an ad versus the number of times they clicked. If 100 people saw an ad and 10 clicked, you’d have a CTR of 10%.
- ROAS (return on advertising spending): Another key metric like CTR. This is how much money was lost or gained on the amount invested into advertising spending.
- SEO (search engine optimization): The major method of improving your website’s ranking to increase free organic traffic.
- Organic traffic: individuals who click through to your site through the non-ad results on a search engine
How Does PPC Work?
The general process is pretty simple. After you’ve create an AdWords account, which doesn’t take long, you can create an ad, set a spent limit, pick a keyword, and then run an ad. But while the process itself is simple, the crafting of good AdWords campaigns is not. This is what makes PPC management challenging
PPC advertising is keyword dependent. What that means is that you’re targeting users that search for specific terms, or keywords. A keyword can be a single word or a phrase. While capitalization doesn’t matter, punctuation, word order, and spelling do.
Not all keywords are created equal. They differ in their competitiveness, both because of how many people are competing for ads with that keyword and because of the volume of search. “shoes” gets many more searches than “women’s basketball shoes.” You can see the difference between shoes and women’s basketball shoes.
When someone sees your ad, they can decide to click or not. If they click, they’re taken to whatever page you’ve associated with the ad, and you’re charged whatever the cost of the bid was. It doesn’t matter if they leave your site without buying something, or without clicking on anything at all (referred to as a bounce). You’ve already paid. This is the scenario you want to avoid.
There’s two big mistakes you can make with a PPC campaign along that theme.
The first is not properly targeting. This means the people that are clicking are not a good match for what you’re selling. They’re unlikely to convert no matter what. If you’re selling a $100 lamp and they’d never pay more than $25 for a lamp, then you don’t want to be paying for their clicks.
The second is not properly designing your page. A landing page – literally the page your clicker lands on after they click – is an important part of a PPC management strategy. Getting traffic to your website isn’t very useful if it doesn’t do anything while it’s there. Specifically, you want it to convert.
Conversion means the process by which the potential customer completes the action item you’re looking for. This could be 1) signing up with an email address, 2) purchasing a product, 3) scheduling a meeting, any number of things. PPC management has to focus on conversion, not clicks. The job of your landing page is to get the interested person to do said thing. If you’re targeting correctly, part of the battle is over already. They’re at least somewhat interested.
This has been a brief overview of PPC management and the foundations of working with the PPC world. PPC has evolved enormously in the past 20 years and is a major advertising force. You can learn more about the complete history of ppc here. Crafting an ad that takes a user from impression to conversion is a challenging, but rewarding, process. As the digital revolution continues, PPC management will become even more central to having a successful digital pretense.
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