Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising is a great way to get your product or service in front of potential customers. Available through Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising, you can create a campaign today and start servicing customers tomorrow.

Let’s look at five essentials if you are to achieve success with your PPC campaign.

  1. Impressions

Each time one of your ads is shown on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) it’s called an impression. It goes without saying that your PPC ad campaign isn’t going to go anywhere if you don’t get any impressions and people don’t see your ads.

In order for your ads to be displayed you need to be targeting keywords with adequate search volume. The starting point for any PPC campaign is to carry out keyword research in order to determine what your potential customers might type (or speak) into their device in order to find businesses like yours. In doing this you need to adopt the mindset of a potential client.

You may find that the way in which a customer might phrase something, and the way in which you as the business owner would phrase it, are not the same thing. As far as your ad campaign is concerned, and the keywords customers might use to find you, it doesn’t really matter what keywords and phrases you think best describe your business activities. What matters is how the customer views your business, and how they would speak about what you offer. As far as this goes, the customer is always king.

In my own business, I offer all sorts of computer-related services. One facet of what I offer is computer repair, which in my mind entails some sort of disassembly of equipment to put something right, and then putting it back together again. For me, fixing an email issue, reinstalling an operating system, or removing viruses and malware, are not computer repairs as such. However, I quickly discovered after launching my business, that most of my customers use the term ‘computer repair(s)’ as at least part of their search phrase. For this reason, it became imperative for me to build out lists of keywords which incorporated the term ‘computer repair(s)’.

Various online tools are available which can help you to carry out keyword research. You should look to build out lengthy keyword lists containing multiple variations of the search terms, with a mix of short- and long-tail keywords and phrases.

In order to gain impressions, think like a potential customer, speak their language and build your keyword lists accordingly.

  1. A Strong Impression Share

One of the metrics available in your PPC platform, whether Google Ads or Microsoft Advertising, is the Impression Share. This metric is defined as the percentage of impressions your ads received compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could have received. In other words, how often are your ads being shown on the SERP against the total number of times when they were eligible to be shown.

Assuming your keywords are triggering ads appropriately you may find that your ads aren’t actually appearing on the SERP often enough. If this is the case, in other words your impression share is too low, then you’ll need to review your bids and potentially increase these in order to lift the positioning of your ads. However, other factors are involved and it’s not merely a case of increasing your bids.

The position of an ad on the SERP is determined by a formula called Ad Rank which gives your ad a score based on your bid, the Quality Score of the keyword used to trigger the ad, and other factors. The Quality Score is a rating given by Google or Microsoft to each keyword. It’s based on the quality and relevance of your ad, its landing page on your website, and the estimated clickthrough rate for that keyword.

You can control the quality of your ad, and of your landing page, by matching them closely with the searcher’s intent. This means including the keyword in the ad copy and the landing page and using language which clearly shows the searcher that you can provide whatever it is that they are seeking.

You should settle for nothing less than above average ratings for both your ads and your landing pages and adjust the copy of both until this is achieved. In doing so you will achieve higher quality scores resulting in a higher Ad Rank. The higher your quality scores the less you’ll need to pay to achieve an equivalent position on the SERP.

The other component of Quality Score is the Expected Clickthrough Rate which is a measure of how likely it is that your ad will get clicked when shown for that keyword. This is determined by Google or Microsoft and isn’t under your immediate control in the same way as your ad quality and landing page experience.

By improving your Quality Scores and bidding appropriately, you should be able to achieve a satisfactory impression share when compared with your competitors. In my own industry I typically look to achieve impression shares of at least 80%. The figure you would need to target in your own industry would vary depending on the total number of impressions you are achieving and other factors described in the following sections.

  1. A Satisfactory Clickthrough Rate

According to Wordstream, the average clickthrough rate for Google Ads is 1.91%. PPC clickthrough rates vary significantly from industry to industry, from a low of 1.35% for Legal to 3.4% for Dating & Personals. It’s worthwhile comparing the clickthrough rates you are seeing for your different keywords to your industry average as this will give you a clear benchmark for assessment of your performance.

There are a couple of reasons why your clickthrough rates may be too low. The first is to do with whether people are even seeing your ads, and the second relates to the content of the ads.

Let’s assume that your ads are achieving a satisfactory number of impressions, and that your impression share is on target. It’s still possible that potential customers may not be seeing your ads if your ads are appearing too low on the SERP. There are typically four positions at the top of the SERP for ads and you should aim to be attaining one of those positions. There may also be a number of ads at the bottom of the SERP but most searchers will already have made up their minds before scrolling down this far. In my view, these positions on the SERP have very little value.

I would recommend targeting an average position in the range from 2-3. You can adjust your bids for your keywords and then monitor the average positions achieved using your PPC platform to make sure you’re on track. You can then tweak your bids higher or lower as required. Achieving the top position is always possible but may be significantly more expensive and may not result in a significantly higher clickthrough rate.

The other main reason for a low clickthrough rate may simply be that your ads aren’t sufficiently compelling to generate clicks. You can test different versions of your ad copy and monitor which versions achiever higher clickthrough rates. Again, you should try to grasp the mindset of the potential customer and ensure that your ad copy is a direct response to the searcher’s intent. If the wording of the ad gets their attention they are much more likely to click through to find out more.

  1. Low Costs Per Click (CPC)

Lower marketing costs lead to greater returns on investment (ROI) on your marketing budget. For this reason you need to drive your costs per click to the lowest possible level. I’ve heard from clients who’ve reported that PPC advertising didn’t work for them. Without a doubt PPC advertising is more suited to certain industries than others. You need to be aware of the potential costs, budget accordingly, and regularly measure your performance against whatever metrics you choose to use.

One of the most common mistakes is to bid too high and not have a strategy to achieve satisfactory outcomes with lower bids. It’s relatively easy to achieve the top position of you’re willing to pay for it. In my own industry you might pay $20 to achieve the top position whereas you could be in an average position between 2 and 3 for $5. You would need to convert many more of the top position clicks into customers in order to achieve a satisfactory ROI.

Your clicks will cost you more if your quality scores are too low, as discussed earlier. For this reason it is worth making the effort to create high quality ads which click through to landing pages which correlate as closely as possible with the searcher’s intent. In doing so you will maximise your quality scores and reduce your costs per click.

  1. A High Conversion Rate

The goal of every marketing campaign is to convert people into paying customers. Once you’re achieving your targets in terms of numbers of impressions and impression share, clickthrough rates, and costs per click, the final step is to convert the searchers into actual clients. You may measure conversions in different ways, whether your goal is to have people call you, make an online booking, fill in a form, or something else.

At the point when a potential client clicks on your ad, they are taken from the SERP to your website and this is where your landing pages come into play. You need to capture and captivate the attention of the searcher as soon as they arrive on your landing page. In order to do this you need compelling content which matches the searcher’s intent and which clearly articulates what you’d like them to do next through crystal clear calls to action (CTA’s). By doing this, you will achieve conversions and the goal of your PPC campaign will have been achieved.

Wherever you are on your journey with PPC advertising, I hope you’ll have found my thoughts on one or more of the five essentials described here to be helpful in propelling you towards the success you desire. You need potential clients to be seeing your ads, clicking on them at a reasonable cost per click, and then following through on your call to action after arriving on your landing page. This is the pathway to success.