The Basics of Pay-Per-Click Advertising.

This page gives only the bare minimum basic understanding needed for you to use PPC advertising to sell your products. PPC has become a huge subject! When this page was first written 20 years ago, we could put everything there was to know on one page. Not anymore!


"Pay Per Clickthrough" (also called "Pay-Per-Click" and shortened to "PPC") is a method of advertising online, where the advertiser pays for every click that takes the person clicking an advertisement linked to the advertiser's website. The ads themselves can be displayed on a search engine such as Google or Bing, or on third-party websites. Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is currently the premier PPC platform selling advertising that, when clicked, takes the clicking person to the website of the advertiser. The advertiser only pays when the ad is clicked, not every time it is displayed (called an "impression"). These PPC ads can be in many formats, including text ads, image ads, video ads, etc.

At Google you can buy "Google Ads," which is their current brand name for pay-per-clickthrough ads displayed at Google whenever someone searches. These ads also display on other websites (called Google's "Search Network"). This is how you get one of those little text ads in a tiny box at the right of the search results (or above them) when you search for something at Google.

Such ads may be viable for you; they are worthwhile for many of our clients. Sign up and fill in the Google Ads sign up form, and they'll give you an estimate of what it will cost you per month for the ads you want. By "viable" we mean they make you more money than they cost.

Bid only what you can afford—and watch carefully the return on your advertising investment! (Called ROAS - Return on Ad Spend).

Those websites selling very expensive products or services with a lot of profit in them and low overhead (consultants, expensive software and so on) usually do well with Pay-Per-Clickthrough. If you're selling something small, common, or inexpensive, or if you don't have a lot to spend on advertising, this pay-per-clickthrough ad model probably won't work for you. We have one client who bids $25.00 per click—and it is very worthwhile for him. Another client cannot afford to pay more than 15 cents per clickthrough. There are minimum amounts for various keyword phrases. Be prepared to pay what is required per click, to have first page placement for any keywords that are competitive.

Pay Per Click explained
Pay Per Click Basics

With all that in mind, some things simply don't sell well through Pay-Per-Click ads, especially inexpensive items that are available offline in big supermarkets.

Keyword Research

The first step is doing research to figure out which keywords you need to use. What words will people use to try to find your services or products? You'll be "bidding" on those keywords when you place your pay-per-click ads. Bidding means you'll tell the platform you use "I'll pay up to so many dollars per click to my site."

If you don't bid enough for clicks, or don't set an adequate budget, then Pay-Per-Click ads won't work for you for the simple reason that your ads won't display. Your competitors, who pay more for clicks, will show up at the top of the displayed ads.

This page on our site covers how to do keyword research. Once you've got your keywords figured out, then you can proceed to setting up your PPC account.

SpyFu can give you some great free advice on how much your competitors have been paying (historical information) for keywords in your industry. It's a great resource!

PPC Account Setup

One can advertise using the PPC model on most of the modern advertising platforms:

Ad Creation

What your ads say (in order to have them be effective and actually SELL things) is a subject all its own, which we cover here: How to Make a Great Advertisement. We can help you make great ads and place them for you.

We've handled millions of dollars of PPC ad spend for our clients over the last twenty years, creating and placing PPC ads for them.

Remember, PPC ads can be in many forms: text ads, video ads, image ads, and so on.

Landing Page Development

When creating your PPC accounts and ads at Google Ads, Facebook, etc., you will need to specify WHERE you want the clicks to go on your website. That's called the "landing page" on your website.

The visitors that come to your website when they click your PPC ads need to arrive at a page on your website that is built just for the peopl who clicked that exact ad. Don't send them to your home page or some generic page on your website. The landing page needs to exactly match the ad they clicked to get there. Same keywords, same theme, etc. We can help you set up these landing pages. Some of the best landing pages show exactly the same product that was displayed in the ad the person clicked to get to that page, along with the price and details, so they can just fill in a form with their shipping info and click "Buy Now!" Why make it complicated? The more clicks someone has to make to get to the "buy now" button, the less likely they are to complete the sale.

Think of it as though the landing page were a continuation of the advertisement the person clicked.

Launch, Test, Monitor, Tweak

At some point one has to turn on the PPC Ad campaign and see how well it works. If it doesn't do well, tweak it, change up the wording or the photos in the ad, and run some A/B testing. Show two different ads or two different landing pages to the visitors coming in off the ad, and see which one performs better. (Makes more sales!)

You can sometimes select "negative" keywords— for example, you can show your ad to all bicycle owners in Peoria, excepting those who search for "Schwinn," the "negative" keyword.

Google keeps making it more difficult over time for advertisers to pick specific keywords and negative keywords. They have more faith in their algorithms than their advertisers do.

Rinse and Repeat?

All the while your ads are running, monitor your ROAS and make sure you aren't overspending. One can waste a tremendous amount of money on ineffective, unmonitored advertising.

Speaking of which, have you done surveys of your target public, to find out what they need and want, what motivates them to buy, what emotional level to use to try to pitch them? We always recommend using the services of a good marketing survey company, such as TrendCreators, Gilleard Dental Marketing, or On Target Research

Done correctly, marketing surveys will tell you exactly how to position your product against your competitors, what emotional tone level will match your prospects and get them to act, and exactly what to say to your prospects to get them to buy. This information is golden. What you say to your prospects, and how you say it, can make the difference between struggling for years, and wild success.


Article updated 2022



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