Whenever you run a query on a search engine, you’ll find pay-per-click (PPC) ads blended with your results, placed at the top of the page and labeled as ads. Purchased by marketers in the hopes of generating additional traffic for their websites, this helps them get around waiting for their SEO efforts alone to pay off. After all, PPC links automatically appear at the top of the first page of results.
Sounds great, right?
However, there’s a bit more to it than that.
Here’s what you need to know about pay-per-click advertising.
Top Billing: As we mentioned above, PPC gets you around waiting for organic SEO efforts to pay off. While it can take time for search engines to index and rank your site, a PPC campaign can land you on the first page of search results immediately—regardless of the age, quality, or ranking of your site.
Geo-Specificity: PPC campaigns are easily targeted to specific locations, making them ideal for a number of useful functions. You can create offerings for a set group of users based upon where they live and/or you can test campaigns in certain areas before broadcasting them widely. This feature is also useful for small businesses wanting to spend their ad dollars locally. After all, what good does it do to advertise your Boise, Idaho ice cream parlor in Honolulu?
Easily Controlled Costs: With PPC, you set your own budget and the search engine’s algorithm places your ads until your budget is depleted—within the time and frequency parameters you outline. Further, you only pay for the ad placement if a user clicks on it. In other words, if your ad gets no action, you incur no cost. This is great for young businesses operating on a free website template to reduce expenses.
You Pay Regardless: While it’s true you’ll only pay for the placement of the ad if someone clicks on it, there’s no guarantee the click will convert. You could well blow your budget on curious people who have no intention of purchasing your product or service; they just want to see what you’re about. Further, you will also be billed for the ad if a user clicks on it accidentally.
So, Yeah—Fraud: There are definite instances of click farms being set up to generate fake clicks to bilk advertisers. What’s more, since your ads are sitting there for everyone to see, your competition can organize a click-out, wherein they organize a group of users to click on your ads until your budgeted amount is depleted and your links disappear. This could take you out of the game each time your ad shows up.
PPC Is Competitive: Placements are auctioned to the advertiser willing to pay the most for the spot, so if your budget is light, you’ll be in for a pretty rough fight. You’ll be up against other companies who have sought to have their ads appear when the same keywords you choose are searched. Popular terms can command rather significant sums, so if you’re in a mainstream business with a lot of really big players, it might be tough to get in. However, if you’re clever, you can capitalize on secondary keywords with less competition. But you’ll have to expend quite a bit of research effort to do so.
Success Is Cumulative: If you’re thinking you’ll drop a slick PPC campaign and see your profits skyrocket in a week’s time, you’re setting yourself up to be disappointed. One of the most important things you need to know about pay-per-click advertising is all advertising takes time to generate tangible results. While PPC can absolutely get your site found faster than SEO in the short run, the long-term benefits are better with SEO.