The Ultimate Guide to PPC Marketing

Grow your online visibility with Pay per click. Learn actionable PPC techniques to attract new website visitors, generate more leads & drive more revenue.

Many businesses start their digital marketing by advertising online through PPC (pay-per-click) marketing campaigns. However, most give up after the first campaign because they may not understand keyword bidding, scheduling, targeting, re-targeting, and other extensive features that make it more profitable.

While it may seem easy to put together a paid search ad that gets traffic right to your landing pages, a successful pay-per-click campaign requires more technical knowledge to get better performance.

For example, what if you knew that you needed $2.35 per lead cost at maximum to maintain your budget. However, your campaigns are performing at $3.00 per click on average despite your optimization and listening to Google's hints. This is mainly because Google's business model depends on you not knowing the secrets of advertising within their search network.

What is PPC Marketing?

PPC (AKA pay-per-click) Marketing is a digital marketing tactic where advertisers pay a fee on each consumer ad click. These paid ads typically sit in a prominent position of a page, news feed or search result.

PPC trends and advertising is not limited to Google nor should your campaigns be. However, Google Ads is where most businesses start. You can use the following guide to expertly create new PPC ads and optimize any campaigns that you already have running.

Getting Started with PPC Marketing

If you already know how text ads work, then you may have searched out your competitors on Google or Bing. These ads appear at the top of the search engine results pages and typically feature brands of all kinds related to the keywords searched for.

Most of the time, these ads just appear at the top of the results, and it may not matter whether you use desktop browsers or mobile devices. In other cases, these ads may appear on a webpage in the sidebar or as a small text link at the top of your Gmail inbox (for example) and vary in size or content based on your device type.

Search Engine Marketing

PPC online marketing includes any ad that requires the advertiser to pay whenever the ad is clicked. While there are several types of PPC ads, search engine marketing typically goes hand-in-hand with PPC. In fact, when marketers refer to pay-per-click, they are typically talking about sponsored ads that show up in search engine results. Display ads, social media ads, and other content ads are also included when refering to search engine marketing.

Ad Bidding & Placement

Advertisers bid on PPC ad placement. The goal is to pay as little as possible for a higher placement on the page, and hopefully, it's the first position. Your ad placements will fluctuate based on bids of other advertisers. Certain keywords cost more to bid on because of the competition.


Every time a user clicks on an ad, the advertiser must pay the search engine a small fee. We call this cost-per-click or CPC. If you create an ad that's irresistible to the user and targeted correctly, then you will pay less for ad clicks.

Google rates ads and landing pages based on their quality, and you see that as the quality score on the side. For those advertisers who consistently get a higher quality score, the fees are much less and the frequency shown is much greater.

What Businesses are the Best Fit for PPC Marketing?

Technically, any business that needs lead generation, customer acquisition, or online purchases to be profitable can benefit from PPC ads. In that way, there are a variety of industries that use PPC ads to send traffic to their posts, landing pages and product pages.

Getting started with pay-per-click advertising means that you have an online audience actively searching for keyword topics related to your business products and services and a marketing budget.

Note that some businesses have been using pay-per-click (PPC) marketing for many years and have developed advanced strategies - however, we suggest starting with simple campaigns to get acquainted.

B2C & B2B Pay Per Click

B2C and B2B marketing efforts for PPC may look similar on the surface, but differ in their overall objectives. Typically, B2C campaigns have a shorter sale cycle than B2B. So, it's important to first map out the purpose of you campaign. Is it to generate leads, make online sales, produce sign-ups, create brand awareness, etc.

Businesses sending traffic to their blog posts, landing pages and product pages are typically looking for online conversions. We find these conversions in the form of product sales, SAAS sales, webinar sign-ups, content offer downloads, free trials, etc.

B2B Pay Per Click

PPC for Business-to-business (B2B) is targeting businesses instead of end consumers. Typically B2B campaigns are looking for lead generation.

PPC Lead Generation

PPC lead generation is best for products or services with longer sale cycles requiring more touch points to gain the prospect's trust. So, your PPC campaign might have a goal of generating a good fit lead so prospects can be nurtured and further qualified.

What Does a PPC Ad Look Like

If you do a search right now in Google for "anti-virus software," you will likely see a list of results and then the organic search results underneath. At the top of the list are the sponsored ads, this is the most common representation of a PPC ad. These ads can be set up in Google Ads. These are also referred to as text search ads.

Text Search Ads

Text ads include a headline, description, and a URL path. The user sees the headline first, which is why your ad should focus on including the keywords and best phrases in headline one and headline two. These are also called H1 and H2 headlines in Google AdWords.

The description and path go underneath. Users may look at these for more information. Advanced PPC features include sitelinks and extensions, which allow users to click on links or your phone number. These ads also display whether a user is on a desktop browser or mobile device, but they display differently depending on which one is used.

Top PPC Ad Networks

In addition, there are two main PPC search advertising networks: Google and Bing. However, you may find other ad networks are more suitable for your audience, such as Taboola or B2B ads on LinkedIn or custom audience ads on Facebook.

However, traditional pay-per-click ads still refer mainly to search engine advertising. However, we that's evolving especially with Facebook ads and is rapidly become our PPC network of choice. We'll discuss the differences in the next section of this guide.

What Networks are Best for PPC Advertising?

When it comes to networks, Google and Bing are known as the original leaders in PPC online advertising. However, due to their success and competitiveness, many other platforms have emerged with other powerful PPC models. While these are less popular, they may work better for certain niche industries and audiences.

Google Advertising AKA Google Ads (PKA Google AdWords)

Google has changed their advertising platform several times. The search engine recently changed the naming convention to Google Ads, but it still means Google AdWords to most advertisers. For over 20 years, Google has offered advertisers the ability to show ads to their users.

While it's definitely the most popular pay per click advertising platform, it's also the most competitive - and not always cheaper. As the most used search engine on the Internet, advertisers have to compete at a higher level to get the most out of the search engine's advertising platform. This could mean higher cost-per-click ratios and lower placements for certain keywords.

Brand Search Ads

However, for those just starting out, you may want to show brand search ads on the Google network first. These are low-cost ads that only show when people google your brand. Why is this necessary? In some cases, your brand may not show up first or you want to share specialized ads to landing pages for first-time customers.

Flexible Ad Platform

In addition, the Google Ads platform has the best targeting options, conversion tracking, and Google Analytics add-ons. You can use the data from Google Ads to improve your other campaigns across other networks, too. There are also hundreds of videos and guides to show you expert ways to advertise on this network.

You can test drive a campaign on Google Ads to see features, but you should start with a lower budget and drive it up as your ads perform better for your business. One thing to keep in mind is that Google has a hard time getting ad blockers, which is why we'll show you other advertising platforms. These don't get as much traffic as the millions and millions of searches on Google, but they offer other avenues for advertisers.

Bing Ads

If you want to reach a more desktop-focused user, then Bing Ads is the answer. While these searches show up less than Google, it's still the second-most popular network. Bing Ads generally cost less per-click. However, if you test out a campaign and don't that many clicks, then you should look elsewhere.

The importance of Bing Ads is the audience. Older, sometimes more affluent users search with Bing. You can spread your search ads to several networks to reach the most amount of users.


While Bidvertiser is not so well known, it's probably the best alternative to larger PPC networks. In addition, if your ads are not showing or unable to compete for less on larger search engines, then Bidvertiser is a good option if you want to display on certain third-party websites. The average CPC is much lower on this network as well, but you'll need to spend more time managing the campaign so that it doesn't spend without clicks.


Taboola is also known as Outbrain, and it can help you with remarketing campaigns and certain industries, such as tech B2B. Taboola is unique because it uses seemingly organic content pieces as advertisements. This means that a headline and text link may display like an article would on a news website. Unlike a text ad which simply contains a headline and description, a Taboola ad shows over 500 words or more to look like a real article or blog post.

Social Media Ads

PPC technically applies to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ads because you can choose to pay per click, among other options. Sometimes these ads show up as sponsored posts in the timeline feed, and in other cases, they are smaller text ads in the sidebar on Facebook.

There are also multiple outcomes for these ads unlike search engine advertising. For example, your ad may get more likes, shares, follows, and sign-ups, whereas a search engine ad typically only optimizes for clicks or conversions. Here are links to the respective social media ad networks:

What Do You Need for a Successful PPC Campaign

Before you get started with any text ad campaigns, there are a few things you'll need including:

  • List of keywords to show ads for
  • Audience demographics and targeting factors
  • Budget limits
  • Text ad headline and description copy
  • Landing page URL

Conduct Keyword Research First

This is a crucial first step to creating a successful campaign. A complete PPC strategy starts with the best keywords or key phrases necessary to rank and be relevant for your audience.

There are keyword research tools, but sometimes you can look to your own content, industry, and competitors to see what keywords matter. An effective keyword group includes the following:

  • Relevant keywords and key phrases: You want to only pay for traffic that leads directly to your business. You wouldn't advertise pizza cutters if you sold wallpaper, basically. The best keywords will lead to a higher click-through rate or CTR and a lower cost-per-click.
  • Segmented keyword groups: You don't want to rank for the most popular or frequently used keywords in search engines. These are probably the most competitive. You may have one or two main keywords, so you need to discover more within niche groups and long-tail keyword phrases. These are more specific and have less volume of traffic. However, they are less competitive and a bit more cost-effective.
  • Negative keywords: What keywords don't you want to rank for? These go in your negative keywords list.
To get started, keywords also can be broken down into four other groups:
  • Brand terms: These are keywords that people search when they are researching your brand. These can include trademarked terms. You may have to be careful if you are trying to rank for other branded products such as Windows software or Logitech keyboards.
  • Generic terms: These are general products and service keywords that are highly competitive. You may want to only rank for one or two of these keywords if they are the most relevant to your business.
  • Related terms: These may be terms that people search when they are looking for a product like yours. For example, a user searches jogging, and you sell running shoes. You may want to rank for these keywords to sell your product to this relevant group.
  • Competitor terms: These are brand names that offer the same products or services that you do, and you may even sell these brands on your site. However, Google and Bing may not allow you to rank for certain trademarked terms.

You can research different keywords by putting yourself in the customer's shoes and starting off with broad keywords. For example, you sell shirts, including women's shirts, women's short-sleeve tops or women's black short-sleeve shirts. All these are variations of the much broader keyword term "shirts" or "women's clothing."

The golden rule is that you want your landing page to be as close as possible in relevance to the searched term.

How to Manage Your PPC Ads

Once you have created a new campaign, you need to monitor your ads closely. The steps to management include:

Adding PPC Keywords to Your List

These are the keywords your ads will show for.

Add Negative Keywords

Your ads won't show for these specific keywords. You may want to place misspelled or terms that relate to your industry but not to your products. There may be terms that simply don't convert that you'd like to make sure don't affect your campaigns.

Review Costly Ad Groups

You can set up ad groups by keyword and monitor their effectiveness. Any keywords that have too high of a CPC should be paused and reviewed for mistakes or problems with the landing page.

Strengthening Your PPC Ads

Some ad groups will not get the response you want from users. Maybe the click-through rate is quite low for certain ads. The rule here is that anything under a 2 percent CTR with a low conversion rate and a high cost-per-click is not going to earn you any ROI. In these cases, you should look at the ad's messaging and landing page.

Does your ad have a low quality score? Maybe you need to refine your landing page so that it has a better call-to-action. As you look at your ads, you may want to check out other PPC ad examples to compare yours to and make changes.

You will learn more about PPC ads after you set up your first campaigns and monitor their performance. The goal is to always look at your conversions, acquisitions, sign-ups, and cost-per-click ratios. If you are getting a low CPC, then the ad is definitely working, but if your CTR and conversion rate is low, then the landing page may need to be checked for bad messaging, poor persuasive copy, or lack of a CTA.