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  • Writer's pictureChandler Lyles

What is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising?

ppc advertising

What if your business could magically appear in front of your customers the minute they needed you? How much would you pay for that? More than likely, a lot. That is exactly what Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising allows you to do. 

Our team at High Beam Marketing has been running PPC campaigns for over a decade driving millions of dollars of revenue. We know a thing or two about PPC campaigns and my goal is to give you an overview of what makes PPC advertising so powerful and why you should consider it in your marketing plans. 

PPC vs. SEM vs. SEO: What's the Difference?

Terms like PPC, SEM, and SEO get mixed up sometimes by accident. What's the actual difference?

PPC (Pay-Per-Click):

This is a model where advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Think of it as a way to buy visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing):

This is a category term. It includes several ways to increase your visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).

SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

Unlike PPC, SEO involves optimizing your website to rank higher in organic (non-paid) search engine results. This is done through techniques like keyword optimization, content creation, and building backlinks.

Think of SEM as the whole garden. In one section of the garden, you plant seeds to grow from scratch. That is SEO. You do a lot of work on the front end and don't see any results. Then you keep nurturing the garden for months and still don't see any results. Finally, after months of diligent effort and a little luck you begin to see the fruits of your labor. This way of starting a garden is great if you need to save money and have a lot of time on your hands. 

In the other part of the garden, you buy and plant full-grown plants from the store. It's more expensive but you see fruit from your labor immediately. You need both options if you want to have a successful garden. 

How Does Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising Work?

PPC advertising works by bidding on keywords relevant to your business. Here are a few elements to understand before we move forward:

Keyword Research: Identify keywords that potential customers might use to find your products or services. Think of this as fishing – you need the right bait (keywords) to catch the right fish (customers).

Create Ads: Develop compelling ads that will appear in search results when someone searches for those keywords. Your ad is your lure – it needs to be attractive and irresistible.

Bid on Keywords: Set a maximum bid you're willing to pay for each click on your ad. Imagine this as an auction where you're bidding for the best spot to showcase your product. This is like choosing how much you're willing to pay on bait to potentially catch a fish.

Ad Placement: Search engines like Google will display your ad in a prominent position if your bid is competitive and your ad is relevant. This is like getting to choose the best fishing hole for your business. 

Pay for Clicks: You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, hence the term "pay-per-click." It’s like paying for each customer that walks into your store because of your ad. You only use your bait when a fish actually bites. 

Why is PPC Important?

It offers immediate results, unlike SEO, which can take months to show results. PPC can begin driving high-intent relevant traffic to your site within hours of launching. You're able to adjust your bids up and down to ensure that you never run into cash flow issues. PPC campaigns also provide detailed analytics that show you how effective your ads are. 

How Much Do PPC Ads Cost?

The cost of PPC ads can vary widely depending on several factors:

Industry and Competition: Highly competitive industries tend to have higher costs per click (CPC).

Keywords: Popular keywords can be more expensive due to high demand.

Quality Score: Search engines like Google assign a Quality Score to your ads, which affects your CPC. Higher-quality ads (relevant and well-structured) can lower your costs.

PPC ad campaigns shouldn't be where you spend your entire advertising budget. Because of the high-intent nature of PPC ads, it is where you should spend a good chunk of your initial budget until you max it out. 

PPC Marketing Tools

Several tools can help you plan for, manage, and optimize your PPC campaigns:

Google Ads Keyword Planner:

This tool helps with keyword research. It is way more difficult than you think to find a complete list of search topics your ideal customer is looking for. This tool makes it a lot easier.

Google Ads Editor:

A great tool for creating and managing your ads. You can make bulk changes, which saves you time and helps ensure consistency across your campaigns.


A comprehensive tool that offers keyword research, competitive analysis, and campaign management. Some use it as a one-stop shop for all your PPC needs.


This is known primarily as an SEO tool. It also offers several features for PPC keyword research and competitive analysis.


An AI-powered tool that can assist with generating ad copy, brainstorming keyword ideas, and providing insights based on data patterns.


Custom scripts can automate various aspects of your PPC campaigns, such as bid adjustments, budget monitoring, and performance reporting. They help streamline your processes and increase efficiency.

Who Should Use PPC?

PPC can be beneficial for a wide range of businesses, including:

  • E-commerce Sites: Drive traffic to product pages and increase sales.

  • Local Businesses: Attract local customers by targeting specific geographic areas.

  • B2B Companies: Generate leads and drive traffic to landing pages.

  • Service Providers: Promote services and attract potential clients.

PPC ad campaigns are kind of like employing an infinite number of salespeople. As soon as anyone looks for what you do, you can have a "PPC Salesperson" show up and give them your 2 line pitch. The best part is that this salesperson works 100% on commission. Not sales commission but click commission. You only get charged when someone clicks on your ad! 

How to Optimize Your PPC Ads

To get the most out of your PPC campaigns, follow these optimization tips:

Use Relevant Keywords: To keep your PPC ad campaigns running strong, you'll want to continually update and refresh your keyword list. Otherwise, you could be running ads to traffic that isn't actually interested in buying what you sell. 

Write Compelling Ad Copy: Create engaging and relevant ads to increase click-through rates (CTR). Your ad copy should speak to the customer's pain point and how your business can solve it. It's difficult to do in two lines of copy but it can be done. 

Optimize Landing Pages: Ensure that the landing pages are relevant to the ad and provide a seamless user experience. 

Monitor and Adjust Bids: Review your bids and adjust them based on performance. 

Negative Keywords: Exclude keywords that show up in your search term report, to ensure that you aren’t wasting money on them in the future.

What are the Top PPC Advertising Platforms?

Several platforms dominate the PPC advertising landscape:

Google Ads: The largest and most widely used PPC platform.

Microsoft Advertising: Formerly known as Bing Ads, offers access to the Bing search network.

Amazon Advertising: Ideal for e-commerce businesses looking to promote products on Amazon’s marketplace.

What are the Types of PPC Ads?

There are lots of types of PPC ads you can use. Some of the most common include:

  • Search Ads: Text ads that appear in search engine results.

  • Display Ads: Visual ads that appear on websites within the Google Display Network.

  • Shopping Ads: Product-based ads that appear in search engine results and on e-commerce sites.

  • Video Ads: Ads that play before, during, or after video content on platforms like YouTube.

Each type of ad is like a different tool in your marketing toolbox – choose the right one for the job.

Get Help with Your PPC Ad Campaigns

Want to see if your PPC campaigns could be doing better? Reach out to see if you qualify for a free audit from the High Beam Marketing team.



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