How Does PPC Work? A Beginner’s Guide to Pay Per Click Marketing

minneapolis ppc how does ppc work?

If you’re looking to boost your online visibility in the quickest way possible, PPC marketing is your best option. But how does PPC work? Dive in to find out.

For those of us who aren’t extremely web-savvy, getting noticed online can be extremely difficult. Search engine optimization is one thing, but sometimes it feels like it can only do so much to help generate traffic.

Advertising is another one of those difficult topics to navigate. Luckily for website owners, there’s an efficient way to advertise at a reasonable cost. Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is the new thing, and you should get in on it if you’re lacking in the web traffic department.

But how does PPC work? We’ve compiled a beginners guide for you to learn how to use it to your advantage.

How Does PPC Work?

As with any form of website development strategy, PPC has a lot of facets that you should understand before you get started. We’ll give you the lay of the land, at least enough to steer you in the right direction.

An Overview of the Concept

The general idea of PPC is relatively simple and takes away a lot of the struggle of online advertising by going directly to the source.

Instead of struggling to find advertising platforms while managing and editing all sorts of advertisements at varying costs, PPC allows you to work in conjunction with search engines to market directly to specific demographics. You can even choose a specific region to market to, which is especially useful for small businesses and regional sites.

You can also choose your desired demographic. Traditional online ads will go out to everyone, probably affecting only a limited number of people–a waste of good advertising dollars. PPC, however, allows you to choose your target population.

You know who your customers are, and Google knows where they are likely to browse the internet. Your advertisements will be presented to specific audiences at specific times, in specific areas. This is one of the most effective ways to advertise, and the results say the same thing.


The payment form is in the name. You are only charged for your advertisement whenever someone clicks on it. Each click will hold a specific value that is charged to your advertising account.

The cost will vary depending on the ad network that you choose to work with, so it’s difficult to give a definite amount. The thing that we can say, though, is that you will never be charged more than you want to be. You will determine an advertising budget with the ad network, and once you’ve reached the number of clicks that fill that budget, your advertisement will be pulled from the site.

This may seem to limit you but consider the following example. Let’s say you put an ad out on a PPC platform and you didn’t have a budget. Your ad is set to your target demographic and location, and for some reason, something important to those people happens.

Who knows what it could be, but something prompts this demographic to use Google at extremely high rates at the time that your ad is up. This will spike your click volume incredibly, and you’ll be responsible for paying that fee, which kills your budget in one fell swoop.

Pay per click prevents this and allows you to have a strict budget.

How to Get Started on Your Campaign

The process is a little more involved than simply signing up and watching the results pour in, though. You should do some thinking about what you expect to get out of your ad campaign before you begin.

Identify Your Target Demographic

Your advertisements are only going to be effective if you can place them in front of people who actually want to see them. Your ad platform will do the rest, but you need to identify the people who you’re marketing to.

The demographic that you choose will determine a number of specifications that you make regarding the placement of your ad. One of these specifications is the use of keywords.

Choosing Keywords

Keywords are used to determine where your advertisement is placed. Your ad platform will use user searches to determine where to place your advertisements, and keywords found in those user searches should match up closely with the keywords that you use in your ad.

Try to put yourself in the mind of your target demographic. What keywords would they use to search for the product that you’re selling? These are the words that you should try and identify to use as keywords for yourself.

There are a lot of ways to research effective keywords as well. Search engine optimization relies heavily on the use of keywords too, and this has lead to extensive research on the efficacy of a wide variety of keywords. Competitor analysis sites allow you to look into the websites of your successful competitors and find out what is working for them.

You are able to see how well a specific keyword is working, as well as the demographic that it’s working for.

Identify What Kind of Results You’re Looking For

In other words, what do you want your users to do once they click on your ad? Do you want them to register for something, make a purchase, or simply browse around your page? These things will determine different elements of your ad.

You should also have a realistic goal in mind before you start your ad campaign. Weigh the results you get against this goal in order to stay on track.

Choosing an Ad Network

Figuring out what your plan, your demographic, and budget is will help you determine which ad network to use. Each one offers different benefits, so it’s important to choose one that will best fit your personal needs.

We’ll go through the main benefits in a little detail.

But before you read the next section, think about the people who use your site. Are they a highly specific group of people interested in a niche topic? Things like collectibles and instruments would fall into that category.

Or are your users broader and various, coming to your site for different reasons?

The answer to those questions will help you determine your ad platform. While browsing through the list, consider using multiple platforms to see which one works best for your site.

Google Adwords

Google Adwords may be the most popular option, and it’s easy to see why. The platform is directly integrated into Google, so you can be sure that your ads are going out to a broad group of people.

The main selling point on this one is the fact that Google is a finely-tuned machine. The site uses the industry’s best search algorithm to determine relevant sites for users, meaning that it has a thumb on user preferences and what people want to see. Your ads will fit into the scheme of that algorithm and be placed right in front of the people that you’re looking for.

Another great feature of Google’s ad platform is that the results are easily measurable. The site will measure your clicks, cost per click that you receive, the impressions that your ad gets, and the effectivity of the ad when people do click on it.

You also have the option to target specific geographic locations that are relevant to your site. You can also adjust these locations as trends change or events take place. Additionally, you can target users who are operating on mobile devices, speaking different languages, or browsing the internet at specific times.

Bing Ads

Bing Ads gives you a few perks that Google does not. Most importantly, Bing gives you the opportunity to advertise through a few different search engines. You have the option to market on Yahoo and Microsoft search engines in addition to Bing, which already has a third of the search engine market.

Bing offers visual data to help you understand your progress. Sometimes metrics can become confusing and overwhelming, but infographics and other visual tools can serve to simplify things. Finally, Bing has an archive of keywords and the metrics associated with them.

This is extremely valuable because you can get a read on keywords, their demographics, and how well they are likely to work.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads are fantastic, but they offer a more limited scope than its competitors do. People use search engines for nearly everything in their lives, while Facebook is devoted more to personal matters.

That doesn’t mean the platform isn’t effective, though. Where traditional search engine advertising platforms fall behind, Facebook Ads prevail. Search engines are so broad that it can be difficult to pinpoint certain demographics or groups. You also aren’t required to sign up for or give your personal information to search engines.

Facebook, however, requires members to give a little personal information. That information is exactly what you use to describe your demographic, so Facebook can perfectly match your ad to the user. Additionally, Facebook allows its users to join groups and organizations within the site, things which say a lot about a person’s spending habits.

Using these pieces of information, Facebook Ads can give you a much greater degree of specificity, but toward a smaller audience.

What Makes a Successful Campaign?

The key to a successful ad campaign is a close eye and an understanding of keywords. You need to keep tabs on how successful your ads are doing while they are out there. You’re able to change and tweak your ads almost any time you want, so it’s important to do so if you aren’t seeing results.

Your metrics will be available to view on your platform’s website. You’ll be able to notice different trends at different times, in different locations, and with different platforms. It would be wise to chart your progress in these areas, noting the factors listed above, as well as the keywords that you’re using.

You’ll eventually be able to whittle your campaign down to a point that is finely tuned and effective for your target audience.

It’s All About Keywords

Advertisements are largely dependent on the language that you use. Keywords may seem like trivial things, but there’s a huge industry that depends largely on them.

Think about it from a user point of view. Every time you search for something on the internet, you’re using a set of keywords. You probably didn’t have to think very hard about the last Google search you made–you thought of something, typed it in, and found your results.

We often don’t notice that we are following words that most directly relate to what we desire. In most cases, those words are the same among people of similar demographics. The same goes for advertisements.

While advertisements are presented, not searched for, the ad will certainly fare better if it contains the exact language in a user’s search. Either that or the keywords used can directly relate to a specific group of people.

A Few Tips on Keywords

It’s important to think of what words you would use to search for your product. This will give you a good start, but you certainly shouldn’t end there. You are an expert on your product or service, and most people aren’t.

The keywords that you come up with are going to be more specific than the ones other people use. For this reason, you should definitely lean on the support of tools like competitor analysis and keyword charts. These are finely-tuned, and serve thousands of customers with a great deal of success.

When you’re looking into competitor analysis, don’t investigate sites that aren’t in your niche. Look at sites that are closely related to yours. It’s also important to avoid researching sites that are less successful than you and look to those who are doing better.

Need Help Getting Traffic?

You may have answered the question, “How does PPC work?” but working through the ins and outs of the online world can be difficult alone. There’s a lot you can do individually, but there are people out there who are trained to bring traffic to websites. Sometimes it’s necessary to consult with the professionals.

If you’re interested in getting traffic to your site, we have all the information you need. Click here to take a look at our available PPC services, or get in touch with us today to see how we can help your site grow.