Pay per Click Internet Marketing – An Introduction

Posted: 11th May 2015


By: Helen Culshaw

What is pay-per-click search engine marketing?

Pay-per-click advertisements are the ads that you see in search engines marked as “Sponsored Ads”.

Advertisers choose which search phrases they want to appear for, and decide (“bid”) how much they are prepared to pay up to each time someone clicks on their ad. Generally speaking, the more you bid, the higher your ad appears, though it’s not quite as straight forward as that. Each time someone clicks on it, the amount that you have bid is deducted from your account.

What are the advantages of pay-per-click search engine marketing?

Many businesses have a perception that it’s better to have their site appearing in the “organic” search engine results rather than the pay-per-click ads. To a certain extent this is true – searchers are more likely to click on the main results.

However, there are circumstances in which it is either not possible, or not desirable, to appear in the main results. For example:

  • You may be finding it difficult to get good results in the organic search results.
  • There may be issues to do with the way your site is built which are stopping it getting good rankings in the organic search results – for example, it might be built wholly in Flash. You may not be able to do anything about that in the short term.
  • You may want to target phrases which do not appear on your site – for example, common misspellings.
  • You may want to target a very wide range of phrases, and you may not have the time and/or budget to optimise your site for all of these.

Pay-per-click marketing is also a good way to ‘test the water’ with internet marketing, and find out whether marketing through the search engines is likely to be profitable for your business.

It can be extremely cost-effective, if closely managed – you only pay when somebody clicks on your ad, so if nobody clicks, you’re not out of pocket!

What different pay-per-click programmes are available?

The two main pay-per-click programmes that power search engine ads are Google AdWords, through which you can advertise on Google and a number of small search engines, plus advertise on a large number of ‘content’ websites, and Microsoft AdCenter. Microsoft AdCenter powers ads on Bing and Yahoo.

Most small businesses automatically choose Google AdWords because this is the one they have heard of, and because Google is the most widely used search engine at the moment.

However, it is not necessarily the best choice for everyone – it’s often more competitive than Microsoft AdCenter, which means that clicks could be cheaper on AdCenter and you may still be able to get all the enquiries you need.

Of course, you don’t have to choose between the various programmes, and can try out more than one of them to see which get the best results for your business.

How do I get started?

First, pick the phrases that you want to target – which phrases do you want your advert to come up for?

Start with a relatively short list – 10 or 20 phrases. Then use the free Keyword Planner provided by Google Adwords to find lots more related phrases. You’ll have to sign up for AdWords first but this doesn’t commit you to spending any money – just don’t put your payment details in until you are ready!

Remember, the words that you use to describe your product or service are not necessarily what your target audience would use.

Next, subdivide your list of phrases into a number of categories – if you are selling jewellery, for example, you might have an ‘earrings’ category, a ‘necklaces’ category, a ‘bracelets’ category and so on.

For each category, write a different advertisement, which closely focuses on those searchers’ needs.

Tips for writing successful pay-per-click adverts

  • Read the search engine’s own guidelines first and stick to them!
  • Experiment with the wording of your ads, trying several different formats and comparing results in order to see what works best.
  • Include a ‘call-to-action’ such as ‘download’, ‘buy’, ‘apply online’ or ‘book’.
  • If you have a free trial / consultation / sample etc, mention it!
  • You are very limited for space so think carefully about what you want to include:

Google AdWords

Title: 25 characters
Line 1: 35 characters
Line 2: 35 characters
(includes spaces)

How much does it cost?

This really is a how-long-is-a-piece-of-string question! It depends on the competitiveness of the market, the quality of your campaign, and how often you want your ad to show up. You can cap the budget to whatever level you are comfortable with, and if you don’t have enough budget for your ads to show up all of the time, they’ll only appear sometimes.

You can use a search engine marketing consultant to set up and run your pay-per-click campaigns for you. This will obviously incur an additional cost – usually a setup fee followed by subsequent monthly maintenance fees – but this may be offset to a certain extent by the fact that the consultant should be able to help you get better value for money out of your pay-per-click account, simply because they have had experience of managing a large number of accounts in the past.

Tracking your success

Both Google AdWords and Microsoft AdCenter have sophisticated reporting systems, which enable you to track and analyse the success of your campaigns.

For example, you should be able to see which keywords are delivering the best results for you, which adverts are attracting the most clicks, and which days of the week are working best for you.

You can even set up conversion tracking so that you know how many sales or enquiries you have had from your advertisements.

By keeping a close eye on your campaigns, it should be possible to make sure your advertising is delivering good value for money and helping you to grow your business.

Article supplied by WiRE member Helen Culshaw of Ascendancy Internet Marketing:
01952 462845