An Introduction to Pay-Per-Click Programs

Regardless of the type of business you run, your income will in large part be dependent upon the level of traffic your business receives. “Traffic” can mean different things, depending on how your business operates.

For example, if you have a bricks-and-mortar store, then foot traffic (the number of people coming into your store to browse) is the key. If your business sells through a website, then the number of people who visit and browse your site on the Internet is the key.

So if you have a web presence, a key element of your marketing and promotional strategy – perhaps the primary element – is to generate additional traffic for your website. After a little research, you’re likely to discover a number of different ways to drive additional prospects to your website.

Keep in mind that you also want to make sure that your traffic is “high quality”, in that you would rather have visitors who are more inclined to buy the types of products or services that you sell. One of the best ways to focus your promotional dollars on attracting the right kind of visitors is to use a “Pay Per Click” (or “PPC”) program. Conversely, if your business is being a publisher of information or content on the web, then PPC programs can be an excellent way to boost your website’s income.

What is “Pay Per Click” Advertising?

In the most general terms, PPC advertising is a business model where the advertising company prepares clickable advertisements that are displayed in search engine results pages, blogs, or other websites. The advertisements link to the advertiser’s website.

The advertising company only pays when a prospect or lead actually clicks on the advertisement. You may also hear about other ways to advertise on the Internet besides PPC programs, including buying graphic ads that are charged on a cost per thousand times the ad is displayed. But because of the inherent advantages with PPC programs, that’s what we’ll discuss here.

What do PPC Ads look like?

The PPC advertisements are typically small text and/or graphic ads that appear on pages of other websites. The advertising program is itself administered by a third party (like Google or Yahoo).

For an example of a PPC advertisement, take a look at the screenshot below. This shows the results page for a search for “dog food” in the Google search engine. We’ll cover the leading PPC advertising networks and programs (including Google’s industry-leading program) in future lessons. On the right side of the page you’ll see a box labeled as “Sponsored Links”. The text advertisements that occur in the Sponsored Links box are all examples of PPC ads.

{Note that throughout these lessons, the screenshots shown may look slightly different from your own computer. This is because the author may have already made other adjustments to their own computer. You should be able to follow along on your own computer despite any such minor variations.}

Pay per click advertisements can also be displayed on other types of websites besides search engine results pages. The advertisements are also marked as being ads, and generally look something like the following:

Once you begin advertising with PPC programs, you’ll quickly learn that there are several types of advantages that this type of advertising has over others.

1. You only pay when someone “clicks” on your ad. In those cases where your ad is displayed and seen by potential customers, but not actually clicked by a user, you won’t pay anything at all.

2. PPC advertising, if done in the context of a search engine, displays your advertisement next to related search results. This means that users see ads for your products when they are searching for similar items. For example, if you are in the business of selling electric bicycles, you can set your PPC program to display your ads whenever someone searches “electric bicycles” in the search engine.

3. One of the biggest, but least obvious, advantages of PPC advertising is that you can quickly check new ideas for your marketing and advertising campaigns. It’s very easy to monitor your program’s effectiveness on an almost daily basis, and adjust accordingly.

There are two major PPC advertising engines:

1. Google AdWords – This well-known PPC program is generally regarded as being the industry leader.

2. Yahoo Search Marketing – This PPC program (in its early form) helped to establish the concept of pay-per-click advertising, and it remains a quality program today.

In addition, there are also a number of other PPC programs that are somewhat lesser known. Depending on your needs, however, they may be worth considering. Some of these other programs include: adBrite, Marchex and Clickable. The social networking site Facebook also has its own in-house PPC ad network, and we’ll discuss this in a later lesson as well.

PPC advertising is very competitive in large part because PPC can be a cheap and effective way to get your name in front of the people looking for products just like yours. You’ll do yourself a favor by researching and analyzing the details on your market and your competition, which means knowing:

1. Which keywords are getting the most traffic;

2. What are the top bid prices for those keywords;

3. Which keywords are being ignored (and why); and

4. How many competitors are out there.

In order to maximize what PPC programs can do for you (whether you’re an advertiser, a publisher, or – perhaps most likely – both), you’ll want to learn more about how they work. And we’ll cover that in future lessons.

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Categories: Adsense & CPC

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