Digital Essentials: What is Pay-Per-Click & How Does it Work?

If you’ve found yourself here, the chances are you have some questions about PPC, namely ‘how do pay-per-click ads work?’ We have the answers. Not only do we have the answers to your questions, but they are simple answers to boot.

If you’ve found yourself here, the chances are you have some questions about PPC, namely ‘how do pay-per-click ads work?’ We have the answers. Not only do we have the answers to your questions, but they are simple answers to boot. We understand that approaching a subject as widely discussed as PPC can seem daunting to those not already in-the-know. The aim of this piece is to offer a clear, concise and easy to understand rundown of what PPC is and how it works. You may even find a few tips to take into your next campaign along the way. Whether you’re working for an agency or in-house for a brand, with this guide you’ll be running great campaigns and reaping the rewards before you know it.

What is Pay-per-click?

PPC stands for ‘pay-per-click.’ Put simply, PPC is an online marketing format in which a business pays a fee every time an ad of theirs is clicked. These ads can be used on a variety of different platforms, including search engines (Google, Bing) and social media (Facebook). It is widely seen as a method of buying traffic, as opposed to supposedly ‘earning’ said visitors organically through SEO. It’s not cheating, it’s just common sense!

What is Google Ads?

Previously known as Google AdWords, the recently re-branded Google Ads is the most popular (and thus most profitable) PPC advertising platform on Earth. Google Ads gives users the ability to craft ads that appear in Google search results – Google being the single most used search engine online.

How much does PPC cost?

It depends on a number of factors, namely the keywords you are targeting and how competitive they are. The more costly keywords are those in much higher demand. For example, targeting ‘men’s clothes’ is going to cost you a lot more than ‘red velvet unisex boots.’ Although it may be a crime against fashion, you may find more value in the latter as long as it is relevant. You can control the cost of your campaign through strategic, smart and effective use of keywords, as well as the setting of a budget. Google will spend double your daily budget if the traffic is there, and if Google feels they can get you more conversions or hit your goal. But over the month you won’t spend over your set monthly budget, as it will make up for this later in said month. You can find a more detailed explanation on that here.

What makes a good PPC campaign?

As with most marketing methods, the success of your PPC campaign is dependent on a number of different factors. If this seems unnerving, we’ve got a checklist that will help. Break down your campaign into the below elements and pay particular attention to each. This will drastically improve your chances of success.

The Campaign

It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of businesses or marketers who lose sight of what the whole campaign is about. Some don’t even think about it too much to begin with. Consider the industry you’re acting in, the product or service you’re selling, the target audience and the desired result following their clicks. Set these out from the beginning and keep them in mind as you make your way through the construction of the campaign. Making clear choices in these areas will lay the foundations for an effective PPC campaign.

Ad Groups

PPC campaigns are divided into ad groups, which are groups of ads related to more specific areas. For example, within a campaign for cosmetic surgery, you might have an ad group that targets lip filler treatment and a related target keyword. Splitting your campaign into smaller, specific ad groups will give your campaign added focus and enable you to hit more of your target audience. It will also help to sell more of your goods or services.

ppc ad groups
Specific ad groups will give your PPC campaign added focus.


Construct a list of highly relevant keywords. A great PPC keyword list should be relevant, exhaustive and expansive. Ensure that keywords you are bidding on are highly relevant to the services or product you are selling, in order to gain traffic that is much more likely to convert. To make it exhaustive, you need to refrain from only targeting the most common search terms around your niche. Long-tail keywords whilst less common, are much less competitive and therefore cheaper. To be expansive, you need to be constantly growing and willing to adapt. Try to regularly polish and expand your campaign, and you will hopefully find your keyword list growing and changing accordingly as time goes by.

keyword planner
Construct a keyword list that is relevant, exhaustive and expansive.

Ad Copy

Use a professional copywriter to craft ad text that is engaging, persuasive and, you guessed it, relevant. There’s an element of storytelling in every aspect of digital marketing, and PPC is no different. Having a resource who can say what needs to be said within the limited character allowance will benefit your campaign greatly.

ppc ads
Utilise the limited space you have with concise and engaging copy.

Landing Pages

Create super optimised landing pages with relevant content and engaging call to actions, all tailored to your chosen relevant search terms. Once again, it is best to utilise professional web designers and copywriters in order to create the best landing pages possible. Great landing pages are the ones that convert, the likelihood of which is significantly increased by great content and first-rate page design. The effectiveness of your pages is reflected in Google’s quality score. This metric is Google’s way of rating your click-through rate (CTR), ad relevance and landing page experience. Pay attention to this as you sculpt the ideal PPC campaign.

landing pages
Craft engaging, well-designed landing pages that will convert.

Setting Goals and KPIs

Now that you know exactly how PPC ads work and how to build a great campaign, it’s time to look at the bigger picture. When building a PPC campaign, always set goals in terms of who and what you are aiming for with your ads. The three questions that you need to think about are:

What is my target audience?

By choosing exactly who you are hoping to reach, you can use keywords and ad copy to target their preferred search terms and speak to their own personal needs.

What is the preferred outcome and overall purpose of the campaign?

You need to identify what your end goal is. What do you want to persuade a user to do once they’ve clicked on your ad? This will help you craft a landing page that is purposefully geared towards spurring that desired action.

How will I measure the campaign’s success?

Identify exactly how you will measure the campaign’s success. It could be traffic, form fills, subscriptions, phone calls or a whole host of other key performance indicators (KPIs).

Why should I use PPC ads?

You should use PPC ads as they are a tried-and-tested way of grabbing the attention of your chosen online audience, turning those clicks into conversions and ultimately gaining more paying customers or clients. For this reason alone, the ROI from PPC campaigns is massive. You can craft great PPC campaigns to match a range of different budgets, KPIs and industries. No matter what angle you’re coming from, you can find value in pay-per-click, and fast. Unlike some other marketing methods, PPC often delivers instant results. As everyone in business knows, time is money. With pay-per-click ads, you can spend less of the former and earn more of the latter. That’s a deal worth paying for.

Now that you know exactly what pay-per-click is and how ads work, you can find out more information about our own PPC services here. Alternatively, you can give us a call on 0330 400 4169 or email

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