When it comes to online advertising for your business, you’ve probably looked at a few different options. From search engine optimization (SEO) to social media marketing, you may already have some campaigns in place.
Those aren’t the only digital marketing tactics available, though. Today, 65% of small and midsized businesses (SMBs) use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to drive results online.
But PPC costs money. So, you’re likely asking, “Is PPC worth it?” Well, just keep reading to find out.
If you’re ready to take the next step, WebFX would love to help you optimize your paid ad campaigns. Our team of over 200 experts specializes in PPC and SEO alike, as well as social media, web design, and more.
Check out our PPC services — and contact us to get started!
What is PPC advertising?
Knowing when to use PPC can be complicated, and we can’t dive into the benefits and drawbacks of PPC without first having a clear understanding of what PPC is. So, to start off, just what is PPC?
PPC is a type of online advertising where you pay to have your ads displayed in Google search results and on website pages.
In search results, PPC ads appear above organic search results, denoted by a small green box with the word “Ad.” As the name suggests, you only have to pay for these ads when people click on them.
To get started with PPC, you’ll want to create a Google Ads account. Then, you’ll choose the keywords you want to target and bid on those keywords.
When people search keywords, Google displays ads of the highest bidders at the top of search results.
If someone clicks your PPC ad, they’ll be directed to your dedicated landing page, and you’ll be charged for the ad click.
Pros and cons of PPC advertising
Like any type of advertising, PPC marketing has its fair share of benefits and drawbacks.
It’s good to keep these in mind as you consider when to use PPC, as they give you some concrete factors to weigh.
Pros of PPC
The reason so many businesses use PPC is that it comes with quite a few benefits. Here are some main pros of PPC.
- Fast results: Unlike SEO, which takes time to drive results, PPC ads can start bringing in revenue the second they go up. Just one day is enough to give you results you can analyze and respond to.
- Top rankings: You can craft the most perfect piece of SEO content imaginable in an effort to get it to the top of the Google search results, but even position zero results don’t show up above PPC ads. With PPC, you can rank at the top of results — above organic content.
- Flexibility: One of the best things about PPC is that after you release an ad, you can immediately turn around and change it up. You can pause keywords that aren’t working for you, and you can replace landing pages as desired.
- Targeting: PPC ads will only appear for keywords you bid on, but you can use targeting to narrow your focus even more if you so choose. For example, you can limit your ads to searches made within a certain geographical area.
Cons of PPC
Unfortunately, no marketing method is perfect, and PPC is no exception. Here are some cons of PPC.
- Expenses: PPC might only require you to pay for ads that people click on, but depending on your industry, you might have to pay a lot for each click. In extremely competitive industries, sometimes you have no choice but to bid high to win the top spot.
- Reputation: While 50% of users can’t distinguish between paid and organic search results, the other half can — and many of those people will scroll past PPC ads in favor of organic results because they see them as too salesy.
- Conditionality: With SEO, once you pay to create a piece of content, that’s it. You don’t have to keep “paying rent” on it. But PPC isn’t like that. Your ads will only show for as long as you keep paying for them. If you stop the bidding, you stop the ads.
Is PPC worth it?
Now that we’ve reviewed the major pros and cons of PPC, we can finally weigh them against each other to answer our original question: Is PPC worth it?
Let me set up an imaginary scenario here. Let’s say your business sells professional clothing items like suits and dresses. When you go to set up your PPC campaign, you craft one landing page that you think is perfect.
Then you go into Google Ads and use that landing page to target a set of around 50 different clothing-related keywords, ranging from “shirt” to “skirt.” With that done, you kick back for a few weeks waiting on the revenue to roll in.
To your shock, though, no revenue comes in. Instead, you see that your campaign has used up your whole PPC budget, yet you’ve barely made any new sales at all. It’s the worst-case scenario, right? At this point, your primary thought is probably, “This wasn’t worth it!”
But. How did this happen? How did you get such bad results? Well, you got them because you did all the wrong things. You didn’t correctly optimize your PPC campaign. If you’d done a few things differently, you’d have fared much better.
So, to revisit our question, is PPC worth it? The answer is yes — as long as you know how to make it work for you.
How to optimize your PPC campaigns
So, just how do you make your PPC the best that it can be? Here are some steps to take to ensure maximum ROI.
- Target relevant keywords: Only target keywords that are actually relevant to your business, and target them using relevant landing pages. That will get people to click on them. Don’t use broad, one-word keywords that will have a ton of competition.
- Limit ad group size: Don’t target a hundred different keywords with one ad — you’ll end up with an ad that’s too broad. Have no more than 15-20 keywords per group, and make sure they’re all very similar so the ad can be as specific as possible.
- Use negative keywords: In the above scenario, targeting a keyword like “shirt” likely caused your ad to turn up in searches for t-shirts, which aren’t relevant to you. By choosing “t-shirt” as a negative keyword, you can make sure that doesn’t happen.
- Track results: Whether you use Google Ads, Google Analytics, or our own MarketingCloudFX, you’ll want some kind of platform for tracking the results of your PPC campaign. The more data you gather, the better you’ll know how to optimize your PPC campaigns for better results.