What is PPC?

Even if you have never heard of the term PPC before, chances are you have seen PPC ads before.

There are two types of search results that one can find when using a search engine. The first is an organic result; these are the results which the search engine has deemed most relevant – ordering results based on a website’s relevance. They are often in the hundreds of thousands, and graded based on relevance as they are listed.

The other type of search result is Pay-Per-Click (PPC). These results are ordered at the top and bottom of the page, typically in batches of one to four.

PPC Example 1

The top results with the yellow ‘ad’ button have been placed here by Google Adwords, the marketing platform used by Google. These are our PPC ads. Beneath these, we have the organic search results – numbering a staggering 85,800.000. Considering the incredible expanse of the internet, PPC is a good alternative to getting your business to the top of the search page – especially if you are a small or medium sized business that might have trouble getting to the front page through organic results.

Compared to traditional advertising methods such as print or television, PPC advertising can be an extremely fast and easy way to get the best visibility for your product.

In this article, we’ll be providing a basic overview on the mechanics behind how PPC advertising works, and how you can get started on putting together your own PPC campaign.


How PPC Works

As its name implies, you only pay for a pay-per-click ad when a potential customer has clicked on the ad itself. This is arguably one of the most attractive features of PPC advertising, as even those who don’t click on your link will be able to see your ad, and possibly return to your business at a later time. Additionally, daily budget limits can be set beforehand to make sure that your advertising budget always remains in your control.

PPC campaigns are run on large search engines such as Yahoo, Bing, and most predominantly Google. Because Google is top dog here in Ireland, we’ll be focusing on this engine for the majority of the article.

Getting Started – Choosing Keywords

Before you begin putting your first PPC ad together, it is vital that you ask yourself the following question;

“What do I want to get out of this PPC campaign?”

Do you want to promote a new product, or simply increase awareness and drive traffic to your site? Like all forms of advertising, you want to make sure that your ad is reaching out to the right audience. Having this in mind will help you when considering what keywords you’ll be targeting campaign. As we discussed last week, keywords are used in digital marketing to alert those using search engines that your product is out there. Let’s say a computer repair store is looking to drive business to their website. The PPC ad’s text might look something like this;

Fast Computer Repair – MarksComputerRepair.ie


Visit our shop for all of your computer, laptop, and mobile repair needs.

When using Google Adwords, consider the different matches and phrases that our customers would be likely to search for. In this case, we would want to draw our keywords primarily from;

  1. Terms potential customers may be searching for.
  2. Terms included in your search

In this case, our keywords would most likely be along the lines of; “Computer Repair Services” “Computer Repair Business” “Local Computer Repair” and so on.

When using Google Adwords, bear in mind that there are multiple ways that Keywords can be considered and implemented.

  • Exact Match
    • Only matches “computer repair
  • Phrase Match
    • computer repair in Dublin
  • Broad Matches
    • computer stores nearby”

Additionally, you can select Negative Keywords which will prevent your ad from being displayed in certain searches. For example “jobs” can be specified as a negative keyword to keep job hunters from draining your marketing budget.

Altogether, these collections of phrases will become our Ad Groups.

All keyword features are designed in order to give the composer complete control over the scope and breadth of their target audience. We will go more into how to how to properly optimise keywords for PPC campaigns in another article. This is a basic overview to give an idea as to how one can target potential customers in a PPC campaign.

Once your Ad Groups are selected, your ad will now be competing with other stores, cafes and restaurants that will be targeting this keyword for their campaigns as well. As we’ve seen, Google will typically only display 1 to 4 PPC ads in a given search.

So how do we make our ad stand out?


Determining Ad Rank

Because there is only so much online real estate to go around, your ad’s placement on the screen is determined by ‘Ad Rank.’ Because Google will only typically display 1 to 4 PPC ads in a given search, cultivating a strong Ad Rank is vital to a successful PPC campaign.

Your campaign’s Ad Rank is determined by the following equation, whose components we’ll go over next;

The Bid x Ad Quality = Ad Rank

The Bid

Once you have put together your Ad Groups, you will now be bidding against other competitors targeting the same keywords. Your Bid equates to how much money you are willing to pay each time your ad is clicked on. This is also referred to as CPC – or “cost-per-click.” One of the best features of PPC advertising is that the amount paid per click is decided entirely by the user, giving you full control of your advertising budget. Do you want to pay €1 per click, or €5? The more you put forward on your bid, the more likely it is to be prominently displayed.

More important than spending big though, is spending smart. Consider how much a click through to your websites, or having someone pick up the phone and call your business means to you. Remember that although every click will cost you money, not every click will equate to a gained customer.

Our goal is to get the maximum number of clicks in exchange for the lowest cost. To do that, we need to consider the other factors that determine Ad Rank.

Ad Quality

Google and other search engines want to make sure that they are giving their users highly quality and relevant results with each search. After all, they are in competition with one another and their search results are their product. Because of this, it’s not enough to pay your way to the front page, you also need to deliver a good ad in order to beat out the competition.

First and foremost, it is vital that your ad, as well as your website maintain standard spelling and punctuation. This will be picked up on straightaway, and have a direct impact on your overall Ad Quality. The rest of your Quality Score is determined by three smaller sub-factors that I’ll break down in turn;

Ad Quality = Ad Relevance + Landing Page + CTR

Ad Relevance

Search Engines want to show users useful information pertaining to their search. Because of this, how relevant an ad is factors significantly into Ad Rank. It’s because of this you don’t see major brands muscling their way onto the front page with massive bids for unrelated products. Tayto’s €5 bid for their new line of hot n’ spicy cheesy prawn crisps will not rank as well as your €1 bid if you’re both targeting iced coffee. It it is vital that your ad and your keywords marry one another closely. When considering your PPC campaign, it is important that your keywords are prominently featured in your ad’s title, URL and description. Take a look at the following example of PPC ads at work. We have searched “Dog Walkers Dublin” and the following are the top 3 PPC ads that Google has selected to display.

PPC Example 2

You’ll notice that the three appear to be ranked based on how often our keywords appear in their ads – the words from our search have even been highlighted by the search engine. The top ad displays our keywords a total of 12 times. The next 8, and the third 3 times. It is possible in this scenario that the third ad, BorrowMyDoggy.com has placed a larger bid than Dogwalkersdublin.com, but has been beaten by DogWalker’s superior ad relevance in this particular search.

Landing Page

Like Ad Relevance, the Landing Page factors into Ad quality to make sure that the viewer is getting the most relevant result from their Google Search. In addition to keywords, search engines will look at the page on your website that the ad is linked to- and how closely it relates to the search. Because of this, you will want to make sure that your ad for a student coffee discount connects to a page advertising the deal, rather than to someplace more general such as your website’s homepage.


CTR, or ‘Click Through Rate’ is the number of times that people click on an ad based on how many people see the ad. How popular your ad is with viewers is an easy way for search engines to determine how engaging and well put-together an ad is. If your ad draws in lots of clicks and attention, it lets Google know that yours is a relevant, engaging and well-constructed ad that would do well to be displayed to more users on various related searches.



To sum it up, we have a quick example to illustrate how Ad Rank is determined. Below are four individuals bidding for a spot in a PPC campaign, along with their bid. The bid is how much they are willing to spend per click on their advertisement.


PPC Infographic 1


As we have discussed, the bid alone is not enough to determine overall Ad Rank. Next, take into consideration the Ad Quality.

Next, we see their Quality Score, an overall cumulation of their Ad Relevance, CTR, and the Landing Page that the ad leads to. In this scenario, Person A who has bid the highest amount of money has the lowest quality score, and Person D has the highest.

PPC Infographic 3

Now we can see the overall effect this has on Ad Rank. Because of Quality Score, Persons C and D will place first and second respectively, while Person A’s ad, with the lowest Ad Rank, will not even register on the page.

An Ongoing Process

A properly optimised PPC campaign has the potential to provide a significant return of investment (ROI) for your website. Unlike traditional advertising methods such as print or television, you maintain a significant amount of control over the budget, your audience, and most importantly – the resulting data. As you become more familiar with utilising PPC campaigns, you can refine your scope, keywords and other variables to get the optimum results.



If you liked this article, check out our previous issue in Sing Academy where we discuss SEO.

If you have any questions on PPC or wish to apply it to your business, be sure to contact our expert team at Sing! at info@sing.ie