An Introduction to Google PPC (Pay-Per-Click Advertising)

What Is Google PPC?

PPC is short for pay-per-click advertising, a system that enables you to advertise on Google, getting your message out to a vast audience of people searching for products, services, or information that you can provide.

Google PPC is used by millions of websites and businesses all over the world: It's a powerful, cost-effective way to raise brand awareness and drive qualified traffic to your site, boosting sales and other conversions.

So how exactly does PPC advertising with Google work? Learn the basics in this quick primer.

Why Use Google PPC?

Sometimes people ask, "Why would I pay to appear on Google when I can get my site to show up for free?" The answer is, it's not as easy to drive "free traffic" as you think.

Google's algorithms are designed to only reward the highest-quality sites with organic rankings, and it can take a lot of time, effort and cost to achieve organic rankings on the keywords you want to rank for. It's worth the effort, but don't you want to be attracting traffic and driving sales in the meantime?

Going the PPC route is often faster, and in addition, gives you more control over the appearance of your listing in the search results. For example, if you're selling bird houses, you'll have a real advantage over the competition that is only using SEO if you're also using PPC. Take a look at these results:

google ppc advertising


Someone looking for birdhouses is going to be naturally attracted to the PPC ads on the right-hand side of the screen, because those ads contain images and other enticing, pertinent information like price, shipping info, and star ratings.

This is why PPC is so powerful for commercial searches. When people are ready to buy, they want all the commercial information that a PPC ad can provide. Plus, clicking on those PPC ads will take them directly to a landing page where they can make that purchase.

Google PPC works because when you make the sale, your business drives a profit over and above the cost of the ad. It's a win-win.

Getting Started with Google PPC

AdWords is Google's PPC advertising platform and main source of revenue. Typically, PPC advertisers use AdWords to bid on the keywords they want to trigger their sponsored ads. Google chooses which ads to be displayed and each ad's position based on factors including the ad's Quality Score (a measure of the relevance of the ad, primarily determined by click-through rate) and the advertiser's bid, or how much they're willing to pay for each ad click. This whole system functions very similarly to an auction.

google ppc auction

So how do you enter the auction yourself? You'll need to create a list of keywords that you want to bid on, based on their relevance to your business's offerings. This is achieved by doing PPC keyword research, or using keyword tools to discover what terms people search for when they're looking for products or services like yours.

Once you have a keyword list, the next step is to organize your keywords into ad groups and campaigns, then write relevant PPC ads that will entice Google users to click. Well-organized PPC campaigns are key to your success:

google ppc account structure

Remember, a high click-through rate improves your Quality Score, which raises your ad rankings and lowers your advertising costs, so it's worth your while to spend time writing strong ad copy.

Test your ad creative to find out what your audience responds to most: Features vs. benefits? Positive emotions or negative emotions? What's your unique value proposition?

For more help getting started with Google advertising, check out PPC University, a free resources to help you learn the basics of PPC.

Getting Better Results from PPC with WordStream

WordStream Advisor is a PPC management platform that helps you get the most from your online advertising campaigns in as little as 20 minutes per week.

Rather than replace AdWords, WordStream works with your Google AdWords PPC account, making smart, customized recommendations so you can optimize your campaigns in as little time as possible. You'll get friendly reminders and tips when it's time to:

  • Pause an underperforming keyword
  • Adjust your PPC bids
  • Test new PPC ads
  • Improve your click-through rate
  • Add new negative keywords
  • Optimize your ads and landing pages for mobile and more

WordStream Advisor is also cross-platform, so you can manage your campaigns in Bing and Facebook under one roof.

To learn more about WordStream Advisor and what it can do for your PPC campaigns, sign up for a free trial.

wordstream free trial

PPC Basics