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Beginner’s Guide To Pay Per Click Ads

Beginner's guide to PPC

Pay Per Click (PPC) is a type of online marketing where advertisers pay a fee whenever someone clicks on their ad. Search ads are the most common format of PPC ads, while display ads also share a chunk of the market.

Whether you’re completely new to the world of PPC, or you’ve already grasped some basic concepts, this detailed guide will help you learn everything you need to know about Pay Per Click ads.

The Main Benefits of PPC Ads

Let’s go over some of the key benefits of Pay Per Click ads:

Great Source of Traffic

Once you launch your first PPC campaign, you can expect it to start driving traffic to your website almost instantly. Pay Per Click advertising is a quick solution to a lack of website visitors, as opposed to some “free” alternatives like social media, SEO, and email marketing. Such channels require months or years of effort before they begin generating substantial traffic. 

great source of website traffic

Precise Targeting

Business owners usually want to only pay for clicks made by people whole are likely to buy their products or services, and that is exactly what PPC platforms allow. Within the setup of your campaigns, you can choose when and where your ads will appear, and who is going to see them. PPC marketing offers precise targeting options that normally include age, gender, geolocation, interests, and much more. 


PPC campaigns provide results that are easily scalable. Therefore, if you want to drive more clicks from your ads, all you need to do is increase the budget. On the contrary, you can’t really do the same with SEO, content marketing, or any other channel that requires a different type of effort. However, have in mind that you should avoid making huge budget changes before you sit down and create a reasonable plan regarding the role of PPC ads in your overall advertising strategy. 

Data Collection

The fact that results are easy to measure and analyze is another huge benefit of Pay Per Click marketing. All PPC platforms including Google Ads provide a tracking pixel that connects the ad clicks with the actions of users on your website. This helps marketers stay on top of key metrics like ad engagement and costs. Also, no other marketing channel offers a more precise conversion attribution, which gives you an idea of the true cost of each sale.

data collection

The Role of PPC in Marketing

PPC ads allow businesses to be more visible at the most crucial points of the customer journey, which is when potential clients are almost or completely ready to buy. At this point, it is important to know that the ads are much more effective when the potential customer is already aware of the brand and its products. And if you have a great product at competitive prices and a website with an amazing user experience, you’ll be looking at some pretty good results. 

The Basics of Google Ads

Google Ads is the biggest advertising platform out there, and for many users, it is synonymous with PPC marketing. 

google ads basics

So let’s dive into the fundamentals of the platform:

Campaign Types

There are six main types of campaigns that you’ll get to use in your Google Ads account:

  • Search campaigns. This is by far the most commonly used format when it comes to Google Ads. Search campaigns function in a pretty simple way - if the keyword searched by the user matches what the advertiser has previously set up, a search ad will be triggered. 
  • Display campaigns. Google’s display ads are shown throughout the entire Google Display Network (GDN), and users are presented with promotional banners. There are many websites that monetize their traffic by selling space for display ad banners. 
  • Shopping campaigns. Retailers love using shopping campaigns that allow them to promote their products directly in SERPs. The ads are visual, so users can see product images before they even visit the landing page. 
  • Video campaigns. This is the least popular format among users since the ads are shown in the middle of YouTube videos. However, when done right, video campaigns can bring powerful results. 
  • Smart campaigns. There is nothing new here when it comes to ad formats, but the management is quite innovative. With smart campaigns, you basically let Google’s algorithms take control of targeting and other components. 
  • Discovery campaigns. This campaign type is focused on advertising in Google Discover - a highly personalized mobile feed based on the online activity of each user. 

Hierarchy Within Campaigns

Each time you want to create a new ad, you must follow Google’s hierarchy. This means that every ad has its own ad group, and every ad group is part of a campaign. On top of that, each part of the hierarchy has its own set of options and settings. 

Therefore, at the campaign level, you can choose the following settings: the campaign objective, ad networks, campaign type, languages, audiences, budget, and bidding. When it comes to the ad group level, here you can add keywords and other targeting options. And finally, at the ad level, you can add the URL, ad content, and extensions.

The Auction System

Each time your ad matches the criteria required to appear in front of your target audience, you automatically enter an auction. Since there are other businesses that also want to claim the same ad slot, Google decides who gets it based on the following factors:

  • The bid. This is the maximum amount of money that each eligible business is willing to pay for the click. 
  • Ad quality. Google uses the metric called the Quality Score in order to determine which ad should get the slot. Quality Score is calculated using the values related to ad relevance, the expected clickthrough rate (CTR), and landing page experience. 
  • Ad extensions. Additional items you can add to the basic ad format. 

Keyword Match Types

Search ads are set to show up whenever the search query entered by the user matches the keywords that the advertiser chose to bid on. In order to do keyword targeting, you need to select a group of keywords and determine their match types. 

That is why you should have a good understanding of the following four match types used in Google Ads:

  • Broad Match. This type will match anything that the system sees as relevant, regardless of word order or typos. 
  • Broad Match Modifier. BMM functions similarly to broad match, but the +keyword itself needs to be included in the search query. 
  • Exact Match. As the name suggests, this type will match only the exact [keyword], or very close variants and synonyms, as well as singular and plural forms. 
  • Phrase Match. This one is similar to the exact match type, but there can be other words before and after the “keyword”. 

Google Display Network (GDN) Targeting

Google is an enormous system, and as such, it collects tons of information about its users, which is then transformed into useful targeting options for advertisers. 

For example, collective search history can be turned into a category called affinity audiences that marketers can use for targeting in display ads. Affinity audiences tend to narrow down people’s interests, so if you’re looking to target people interested in food and dining, you can pinpoint cooking enthusiasts, aspiring chefs, people who frequently dine out, or any other subcategory. 

Another way to optimize your campaigns and serve the ads to your target market is to use placement targeting - a practice where you create a list of specific websites that you’d like to advertise on. Of course, the websites need to be willing to serve Google AdSense ads. This way, you can curate only highly relevant sites that would bring revenue to your business.

Excluding Keywords and Placements

PPC campaign optimization depends largely on the process of narrowing down the keywords and websites you’re willing to bid on. So as soon as you launch your campaigns, you should regularly monitor what the auction system is bidding on so you can optimize your efforts. 


Oftentimes, you will notice that you’re actually bidding on less relevant or entirely irrelevant keywords. Once you spot such examples, you should exclude such keywords from your campaigns. The excluded items are called negative keywords, and they are also subject to match types. 

The same strategies can be applied to display campaigns. If you don’t filter out the placements where you want your banners to be seen, the ads will appear on some irrelevant websites that are unlikely to give you a return on investment. By eliminating placements with little or no potential, you will save a lot of money in the long run. 

PPC ads may be just one component of your overall marketing strategy, but they can offer such great results that you shouldn’t allow yourself to miss out on their benefits. Now that you have learned all the basic concepts about pay-per-click ads, you are ready to create a strategy that will help your business leverage the perks of large PPC platforms such as Google Ads. 

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