What Is Pay Per Click? Google Ads and Beyond

What Is Pay Per Click?

What is pay per click
Pay-per-click (PPC) is a type of online advertising that allows businesses to target potential customers by bidding on relevant keywords, phrases, and terms.

When an individual searches for these terms, they’ll be presented with paid ads alongside organic search results. PPC ads are a great way to drive traffic to your website and generate leads or sales.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of PPC advertising, including its workings, various types of ads, popular platforms, and differences compared to organic search.

By the end of this article, you’ll understand how PPC advertising works and how you can use it to achieve your marketing goals.

Key Highlights

  • PPC advertising is a type of online advertising where businesses pay a fee each time someone clicks on their ad
  • PPC ads are displayed alongside organic search results, and businesses can choose to target their ads to specific keywords or phrases
  • PPC ads can be a great way to drive traffic to your website and generate leads or sales
  • There are many types of PPC ads, including text, display, and video ads
  • The best PPC approach for your business will depend on your specific goals and budget

What Is Pay Per Click?

Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is an online advertising model where advertisers pay a fee each time someone clicks on their ad. PPC ads are displayed alongside organic search results, and businesses can choose to target their ads to specific keywords or phrases.

When a user searches for a keyword or phrase that a business has targeted, their ad may appear in the search results. If the user clicks on the ad, the business will pay a fee to the search engine.

PPC advertising can be a cost-effective way to reach your target audience and drive traffic to your website. It can also be a good way to track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

How Does PPC Work?

Final: what is pay per click

Pay Per Click (PPC) allows advertisers to pay a fee each time their ads are clicked. This model allows advertisers to buy website visits rather than relying solely on organic traffic. The search engine displays relevant ads when a user performs a search query related to the advertiser’s chosen keywords.

Advertisers participate in an ad auction where they bid on keywords to secure ad placements.

The ad’s position is determined by factors like the bid amount, ad quality, and expected click-through rate (CTR). Advertisers only pay when users click on their ads, ensuring they are charged for engagement.

The Advertiser Sets Up a PPC Campaign

First, advertisers create an account on a PPC platform, such as Google Ads, to set up a PPC campaign. They provide the necessary information, including billing details and campaign preferences. Once the account is created, advertisers proceed to set up campaign settings.

This setup involves determining the budget, which specifies how much the advertiser is willing to spend on the campaign.

Advertisers also choose targeting options to define their audience, such as location, demographics, and interests. Additionally, they set ad schedules to specify the days and times when their ads should be shown.

Keyword Research and Selection

what is pay per click

Keyword research is crucial for PPC campaigns as it helps advertisers identify relevant keywords that their target audience will likely use in search queries.

By selecting the right keywords, advertisers can increase the chances of their ads being shown to the right people. Techniques for identifying relevant keywords include brainstorming, analyzing search trends, and conducting competitor research.

Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and SEMrush can provide insights into search volumes and competition levels. Analyzing competitors’ strategies can also help refine keyword selection by identifying effective keywords relevant to the advertiser’s offerings.

Bidding on Keywords

In PPC advertising, bidding on keywords is the process of determining how much an advertiser is willing to pay for each click on their ad.

Advertisers can choose between manual bidding and automated bidding.

Manual bidding allows advertisers to set their own bids, giving them greater control over their budget and bid amounts.

Automated bidding uses algorithms to optimize bids based on campaign goals, such as maximizing clicks or conversions. It is essential to set competitive bids to achieve desired ad positions.

Higher bids increase the chances of securing top ad placements, but advertisers must balance bid amounts with their overall campaign budget.

Ad Creation

Creating compelling PPC ads is crucial for attracting users’ attention and encouraging them to click. Ad creation involves crafting persuasive ad elements, including the headline, description, display URL, and ad extensions.

  • The headline should be attention-grabbing and relevant to the user’s search query.
  • The description should highlight the unique selling points of the offering and create a sense of urgency or appeal.
  • The display URL should accurately represent the landing page’s domain.
  • Ad extensions, such as call extensions or site link extensions, provide additional information and increase the ad’s visibility. Incorporating relevant keywords in the ad copy helps improve its relevance and visibility in search results.

Ad Auction and Ranking

what is pay per click

The ad auction process determines the placement and ranking of ads on search engine results pages.

When a user performs a search query, the search engine evaluates all eligible ads based on factors such as bid amount, ad quality, and expected click-through rate (CTR). The ad with the highest Ad Rank, calculated using these factors, gets the top position.

Ad relevance and landing page experience also significantly influence ad ranking. Search engines aim to deliver ads relevant to the user’s search query and provide a positive landing page experience. Advertisers should focus on optimizing ad quality, relevance, and landing page experience to improve their ad rankings.

Pay Only for Clicks

The pay-per-click model is a fundamental aspect of PPC advertising. Unlike traditional advertising models where advertisers pay for impressions, in PPC, advertisers are charged only when users click on their ads. This payment model offers several benefits.

Firstly, it gives advertisers better control of their advertising budget since they only pay for actual engagement.

Secondly, it provides a clear measure of the campaign’s effectiveness through the click-through rate (CTR), allowing advertisers to accurately track their return on investment. Advertisers can optimize their campaigns based on real-time data and adjust their strategies to maximize ad spending.

Landing Page and Conversion

Making a well-designed landing page is essential for PPC campaigns as it is critical in converting clicks into desired actions, such as purchases or sign-ups. The landing page should be relevant to the ad content, ensuring a seamless user experience.

It should provide the information promised in the ad and have a clear and compelling call-to-action (CTA) that guides users toward the desired action.

Landing page optimization techniques include creating a visually appealing layout, using persuasive and concise content, optimizing page load speed, and making the conversion process simple and intuitive.

By focusing on relevance and user experience, advertisers can increase their chances of driving conversions.

Monitoring and Optimization

Advertisers should track key metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, and return on ad spend (ROAS) to evaluate the performance of their campaigns.

By analyzing these metrics, advertisers can identify areas for improvement and implement optimization strategies. Optimization techniques may include:

  • Adjusting bids to improve ad positions
  • Refining keyword selection to target the most effective terms
  • Testing different ad variations through A/B testing
  • Optimizing landing pages for better conversion rates

Regular monitoring and optimization help advertisers maximize the effectiveness of their PPC campaigns and achieve their advertising goals.

What Are the Different Types of PPC Ads?

what is pay per click

There are several types of PPC (Pay Per Click) ads available across various platforms. These ads serve different purposes and cater to diverse advertising needs. Some common types of PPC ads include search, display, shopping, and app install ads.

  1. Search Ads

Search ads are text-based ads that appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) when users perform relevant searches. They typically consist of a headline, description lines, and a display URL.

Search ads are highly relevant to user search queries and require advertisers to incorporate relevant keywords and write compelling ad copy. They are placed above or below organic search results and aim to attract user attention and drive clicks.

  1. Text Ads

Text ads are the most common type of PPC ad. They consist of a headline, description lines, and a display URL. The headline grabs users’ attention, while the description lines provide additional information and a call to action.

Text ads are concise and focused, enticing users to click and visit the advertiser’s website. Best practices for writing persuasive text ads include using attention-grabbing headlines, highlighting unique selling points, and incorporating relevant keywords.

  1. Dynamic Search Ads (DSA)

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) are automated ads that dynamically generate ad headlines and landing pages based on website content. They are particularly useful for advertisers with large websites or constantly changing inventory.

DSA helps save time on manual keyword targeting and allows advertisers to reach a broader audience by automatically matching their ads to relevant search queries. The ad headlines and landing pages are dynamically generated to align with users’ search intent.

  1. Display Ads

Display ads are visually appealing ads that appear on websites within the Google Display Network (GDN). They can include images, interactive elements, and rich media.

Display ads are designed to capture users’ attention and generate brand awareness. Advertisers can target specific demographics, interests, or website placements to reach their desired audience.

  1. Image Ads

Image ads are a specific type of display ad format that focuses on visually appealing images. These ads use compelling images that align with the ad’s messaging and target audience. Advertisers need to follow specifications regarding file size, dimensions, and supported formats to ensure optimal display across different platforms.

  1. Responsive Ads

Responsive ads are adaptable display ads that automatically adjust their size, format, and appearance to fit available ad spaces. They optimize the user experience by customizing the ad based on the device and ad placement.

Advertisers provide diverse creative assets, such as images, headlines, and descriptions, allowing the ad system to create combinations for optimal customization.

For more context, find the differences between Responsive vs. Image ads here.

  1. Video Ads

Video ads utilize engaging videos to capture the audience’s attention and deliver targeted messages. These ads can be displayed on platforms like YouTube, websites, or within other video content.

Video ads are effective in conveying brand stories and driving user engagement. Advertisers can create different video ad formats, such as in-stream ads, out-stream ads, or bumper ads, depending on their campaign goals.

  1. Shopping Ads

Shopping ads focus on e-commerce products and are highly visual. They showcase product images, titles, and prices and store information directly within search results.

Shopping ads are essential for retailers and require setting up product feeds and optimizing product data. These ads help users compare products, view pricing, and make purchase decisions directly from search results.

  1. Product Listing Ads (PLA)

Product Listing Ads (PLA) are associated with Google Shopping and display product images, prices, and store information within search results. These ads are particularly effective for e-commerce retailers. High-quality product data and optimized product feeds are essential for successful PLA campaigns.

  1. Showcase Shopping Ads

Showcase Shopping Ads highlight a collection of related products. They display a main image, product thumbnails, and store information.

Showcase shopping ads are useful for branding, promoting product categories, and driving user engagement. These ads allow advertisers to showcase a range of products to users who are actively exploring options.

  1.  App Install Ads

App install ads are designed to promote mobile applications and encourage users to download and install the specific app. These ads can be targeted based on demographics, interests, device types, and other criteria to reach the intended audience effectively.

  1.  Mobile App Ads

Mobile app ads encompass various ad formats specifically designed for mobile applications. These formats include interstitial ads, banner ads, in-app video ads, and more.

Advertisers must design mobile app ads with a mobile-first mindset, considering the limited screen space and user experience within the app environment.

What Are Some Popular Pay-Per-Click Platforms?

Advertisers can leverage several popular Pay Per Click (PPC) platforms to reach their target audience effectively. These platforms offer diverse advertising capabilities and audience targeting options.

Some widely used PPC platforms include:

  • Google Ads
  • Microsoft Advertising (Bing Ads)
  • Facebook Ads
  • Instagram Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Amazon Advertising
  • Pinterest Ads

Google Ads

What is pay per click

Google Ads is one of the leading PPC platforms, offering a wide reach and a variety of ad formats across the Google search engine and partner sites. Advertisers can create text ads, display ads, video ads, shopping ads, and more.

Google Ads provides extensive targeting options, including keywords, demographics, interests, and remarketing. Effective keyword research, campaign setup, and ongoing optimization are crucial for successful Google Ads campaigns.

Microsoft Advertising (Bing Ads)

what is pay per click

Microsoft Advertising, or Bing Ads, is an alternative PPC platform to Google Ads. Advertisers can reach a unique audience through the Bing search engine and partner sites. The platform offers text ads, shopping ads, and native ads.

Advertisers can target their campaigns based on keywords, demographics, and interests. The campaign creation, keyword selection, and ad optimization processes on Microsoft Advertising are similar to other PPC platforms.

Facebook Ads

what is pay per click

Facebook Ads provides extensive advertising capabilities on the Facebook platform, allowing advertisers to reach a large and diverse user base. Advertisers can create image ads, video ads, carousel ads, and more.

Facebook Ads offers precise targeting options, including demographics, interests, behaviors, and custom audience creation. Advertisers can leverage advanced targeting features like lookalike audiences to expand their reach and drive engagement.

Instagram Ads

what is pay per click

Instagram Ads is an advertising platform within the Facebook Ads ecosystem. Visually appealing ads enable advertisers to reach a younger, engaged audience. Advertisers can create image, video, carousel, and story ads.

Instagram Ads leverage the platform’s visual nature to deliver impactful and immersive advertising experiences. Creating ads that align with the Instagram aesthetic is essential for success on this platform.

Twitter Ads

what is pay per click

Twitter Ads provides advertisers with unique advertising features on the Twitter platform. Promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and promoted trends are among the available ad formats.

Advertisers can target their campaigns based on keywords, interests, demographics, and tailored audiences. Twitter Ads offer opportunities for real-time engagement and conversations, making them effective for brand awareness and customer engagement.

LinkedIn Ads

what is pay per click

LinkedIn Ads offers advertising opportunities for businesses targeting a professional audience. Advertisers can choose from different ad formats, including sponsored content, sponsored InMail, and text ads.

LinkedIn Ads provide targeting options based on job titles, industries, company size, and professional interests. This platform is particularly effective for B2B advertising and reaching professionals in various industries.

Amazon Advertising

What is pay per click

Amazon Advertising is a unique PPC platform for selling products on the Amazon platform. Advertisers can create sponsored products, brand, and display ads to increase product visibility and drive sales.

Optimizing product listings, using relevant keywords, and leveraging targeting options within Amazon Advertising are crucial for achieving success and driving conversions.

Pinterest Ads

What is pay per click

Pinterest Ads leverage the visual discovery platform of Pinterest, where users seek inspiration and ideas. Advertisers can create standard pins, carousel pins, and promoted video pins to showcase their products or services.

Pinterest Ads offer targeting options based on interests, keywords, demographics, and customer audience targeting. This platform is effective for reaching users who are actively searching for new ideas and products.

Pay Per Click Vs. Organic Search: What’s the Difference?

Pay Per Click (PPC) and organic search are two distinct approaches to driving website traffic and increasing online visibility. PPC involves a cost-per-click model, where advertisers pay for each click on their ads.

On the other hand, organic search results are free, and no direct payment is required to appear in organic search listings. Let’s explore the differences between PPC and organic search in more detail:


What is pay per click

PPC campaigns involve a cost-per-click model, where advertisers set a budget and pay each time a user clicks on their ads. The cost per click varies depending on factors like keyword competitiveness and bid amount.

In contrast, organic search results are free and do not require direct payment to appear in search engine listings. However, achieving high rankings may require investments in search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.

Position on Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

PPC ads are typically displayed at the top or bottom of search engine results pages (SERPs) and are labeled as ads. They are designed to attract user attention with their prominent placement.

On the other hand, organic search results appear below PPC ads on SERPs and are not explicitly labeled as ads. Users often perceive organic search results as more credible and relevant to their search queries.

Speed of Results

What is pay per click

PPC campaigns can yield immediate results and generate traffic shortly after advertisers launch ads. They can set up and start running their campaigns quickly, targeting specific keywords and demographics.

In contrast, organic search results may take time to achieve significant visibility and traffic. Optimizing a website’s content, building backlinks, and improving its authority are long-term efforts that gradually improve organic rankings.


PPC campaigns offer precise targeting options that allow advertisers to reach specific audiences. Advertisers can target users based on demographics, location, interests, and search intent. This level of targeting controls ad placements and ensures the ads are shown to the most relevant audience.

Organic search results, however, rely on search engine algorithms to determine the relevance of websites to user queries. While SEO practices can influence organic rankings, advertisers have less direct control over who sees their website in organic search results.

Long-Term Sustainability

PPC results are temporary and depend on ongoing ad spend. As long as advertisers continue investing in their PPC campaigns, they can maintain ad visibility and traffic. However, once the ad spend is paused or decreased, the visibility decreases accordingly.

Organic search results have the potential for long-term sustainability. Businesses can achieve higher organic rankings and enjoy sustained visibility in search engine listings by consistently optimizing a website’s content and implementing effective SEO strategies.

Credibility and Trust

what is pay per click

PPC ads may be perceived as sponsored content, which can influence user perception and trust. Some users may be skeptical about clicking on ads, considering them paid promotions.

In contrast, organic search results are often viewed as unbiased and trustworthy.

Users tend to trust the organic listings more, as they are seen as earned placements based on relevance and quality determined by search engine algorithms. Organic search results can help businesses build credibility and establish trust with their audience.


Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising allows for targeted advertising, immediate results, and control over campaign settings.

On the other hand, organic search focuses on optimizing website content and earning visibility in search engine results naturally. It provides long-term sustainability and credibility but requires time and effort.

Consider your goals, budget, and timeline to choose the right approach. A combination of PPC and organic search can provide a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.

To establish an online presence, explore our selection of the Best Website Builders and Best web hosting options to ensure your website is secure and performs optimally.

Next Steps: What Now?

Further Reading – Useful Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Is PPC suitable for all businesses?

PPC can be beneficial for businesses of all sizes and industries. It provides flexibility in terms of budget, targeting, and campaign duration. However, results depend on factors like keyword competitiveness, ad copy quality, and landing page quality. Businesses must optimize their PPC campaigns to maximize their ROI.

How can I optimize my PPC campaigns for better results?

Optimizing your PPC campaigns is crucial for maximizing their effectiveness. Some strategies include regularly monitoring and adjusting your bids based on performance, refining your keyword selection to target the most relevant terms, and creating compelling ad copy that entices users to click.

What are some key metrics to track in a PPC campaign?

When running a PPC campaign, tracking key metrics to assess its effectiveness is important. Some essential metrics include click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate, cost per click (CPC), return on ad spend (ROAS), and quality score.

What are the benefits of using PPC advertising?

PPC advertising offers several benefits. It provides immediate visibility and can drive targeted traffic to a website. Also, advertisers have control over campaign settings, including budget, targeting options, and ad scheduling.

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