What is PPC and how does it work?

What is PPC and how does it work?

Search Engine Marketing, or PPC (pay per click) advertising is a highly requested service from our clients, but many don’t know how it actually works or what needs to be set up for a successful campaign. Here’s a simple guide to online advertising with Google AdWords, the most popular PPC platform.


What is AdWords?

Google AdWords is an advertising system that runs like an auction, where the advertiser (you), bids on particular keywords for their ads to appear in Google search results. Google ads used to be down the right hand side of regular (organic/SEO) results and were highlighted yellow, but now they’re listed above and below organic results with a small “ad” icon, meaning they’re much more blended with regular results now so tend to yield higher clicks as many people don’t realise they’re paid ads:


display of ppc ad in google

Does AdWords actually work?

Most people who come to us have tried AdWords before and failed – it was expensive and they didn’t see any increase in web traffic or conversions. Usually this is because they did the setup and management themselves, so weren’t taking advantages of all available features, and didn’t have knowledge of AdWords inner workings to be able to manage it effectively.

For most businesses, AdWords is an extremely effective marketing tool if you’re targeting the right keywords, have written great adverts and manage the campaign well. While AdWords is different for everyone, depending on your business and how you want to target people, it’s still proven to be a great advertising option for most businesses.


AdWords has many features and options available to businesses that can be tailored to exactly suit your needs. Here’s the main components:


Your AdWords account is the top level setting which is linked with your billing details, and to other tools like Google Analytics to track your performance.


You create campaigns that contain ad groups (topics) with individual advertisements and related keywords. Campaigns are typically split per country you want to target, or targeting criteria (such as image ads, or text ads).

Ad Groups

Ad Groups sit within your campaign and are split out by topics or themes. Each Ad Group has its own set of ads and keywords that allow you to separately target different areas. For example a building company may have separate Ad Groups for Residential, Commercial, Architecture, New Builds or Renovation. Separate settings can also be applied to Ad Groups, for example the Sitelinks (links below the ad) are tailored to each group.


Keywords are the main component of AdWords, where you choose what words and phrases to display ads for and how much you’d like to bid for each. The bids you set affect your ad’s ranking so it’s important to manage your keywords. Keywords also have “match types”, where you can choose whether you’d like your ads to show for “broadly related” terms, or to “exactly” match the keyword you’ve entered. Many clients engage us to perform Keyword Research to determine which words and phrases are most likely to drive relevant users to their site.

This is a very simplified guide to Google AdWords for beginners – there’s many options and features available that can have great results if you know how to use them. We’ve also written about the benefits of using an expert to manage your online advertising, so if your business needs help creating a successful Search Marketing campaign, get in touch.

The Strategus Team