The Quick Guide to Pay Per Click (PPC)

2nd Jun 2021

There are many ways to increase the number of visitors to your website including having good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to improve organic (unpaid) traffic, using social media, email newsletters and more.

But a highly-effective way to significantly increase traffic to your website – whether it’s to the home page for brand, product or service discovery or to a specific landing page to encourage purchases or enquiries on specific offers you may be running – is using Pay Per Click (PPC).

A quick definition

PPC is a form of paid advertising that businesses can use to promote a specific deal, generate leads or create brand awareness, and the costs are only accrued when a user clicks on the ad (as opposed to when an ad is shown on a search results page).

Businesses who use PPC campaigns effectively bid against competitor businesses on the perceived value of a click in relation to specific keywords used to define the campaign.

How does PPC work?

The starting point is selecting the purpose of the campaign (sales, enquiries, brand awareness), and then choosing keywords to use in the campaign.

Keywords are selected based on research and data which reveals the most commonly used search terms, phrases and keywords for a particular item or service.

Within the PPC campaign setup, each keyword is assigned a match type, which defines the queries for which an ad will appear. These include:

  • Exact match
  • Exact (close variant) – these can include misspellings or other variants of a keyword or phrase
  • Phrase – Query must be typed in correct order, even if there are additional terms before or after the query
  • Phrase (Close Variant) – Query must be typed in correct order, even if there are additional terms before or after the query. Query can include misspellings or other variants
  • Broad – Query can be typed in any order and will potentially show ads for similar searches
  • Modified Broad – Query can be typed in any order, but must include terms that contain a plus sign
  • Broad (Session-Based) – A form of broad match that takes into account other queries from that user’s search session

Within the campaign setup, you’re also able to set up negative keywords that negate the keyword phrase for your particular search parameters. For example, if your campaign is for ‘summer sneakers’ then ‘free summer sneakers’ would be a negative keyword phrase, with ‘free’ negating it for your campaign.

You’ll then need to define the other parameters for your campaign including:

  • Target audience
  • Location and Device parameters
  • Start and end dates
  • Type of advert (text advert, poduct listing advert, image advert or video advert)
  • Type of campaign (more on this below)
  • Budget and Bids (how much in total you’d like to spend, and what your maximum bid per keyword is within this budget)

There are fantastic tools to help you research and define the information you need to make these decisions including Keyword Planner, Display Planner, Ad Preview and Diagnostics, Audiences, Bid Strategies and more. These will help you define your audience, as well as the advantages and features of the types of advert so that you can make the best selection for your needs.

Channels and Type of Campaign

The main platform for PPC is Google, who leverage not only their own search pages but also their vast range of Search Partner sites and Display Network sites. When you set up your PPC campaign, you need to select where, within these channels, you’d like to show your advert.

Search Network – This is Google’s most popular PPC channel, primarily shows adverts in response to search queries, and consists of and Google’s Search Partners such as,, and many more..

Display Network – This network consists of millions of sites that agree to show Google text, image, and video ads on their platforms. PPC ads are shown within the site’s content based not on search results, but in response to the type of content on a page, and the audiences and demographics that visit this site. For example, a user may visit a blog that speaks to the history of sneakers in popular fashion and culture. Even though the user isn’t necessarily looking to buy new sneakers, the content is relevant to sneakers and therefore a PPC ad for summer sneakers would be an appropriate placement.

Search Network with Display Opt-In – This targeting option is a combination of both networks, however Google decides when and where ads may perform best, taking control away from the advertiser.

Google Shopping – This allows advertisers to display a Product Listing Advert within the Google Shopping Merchant Center, and shows these ads as part of the ‘Shopping’ tab and carousels on Google Search Results pages.

Keeping Track of Performance

Google offers numerous tracking tools and dashboards to help you not only keep track of how your campaigns are performing, but also how to tweak, optimize and improve campaigns to maximise the effectiveness depending on what your goal is.

Google Ads has an in-built conversion tracking dashboard, and this can also be linked to Google Analytics to help you build a broad and very detailed picture of your overall digital performance.

You’re also able to use the tracking data to implement remarketing campaigns – this allows you to re-target people who may have searched for similar or partially relevant keywords to your campaign, or who dropped off after clicking an ad previously.

The Benefits of PPC

The simple truth is that it is extremely difficult to get high organic rankings for all your keywords and content and thus to attract leads, sales or brand awareness. To help you with specific campaigns it’s simpler, faster and more effective to use marketing budget to accelerate the process.

This doesn’t mean you should stop working on your organic growth, which is more sustainable and valuable over time, but PPC is a great supplementary way to generate new business and growth.

Where to start

PPC can be a complex and daunting undertaking if you’re not familiar with the various tools, terms, campaign types, requirements and the other elements that make up a PPC campaign.

Truthfully, the best way of getting up and running fast is to work with experts who can save you time, money and poor results by helping you get all the strategy and implementation of your PPC campaigns right from the start.

Once you’re familiar with the processes, you should be able to set up and manage campaigns going forward, but may also find that it’s effective to continue working with a digital marketing team to analyse reports, re-invest data and enhance performance.

Find out more about PPC and the other digital marketing channels you can use to accelerate your business growth. Call Realnet today on 01223 550800 or email us at We look forward to helping you!

Realnet is an established Cambridge digital agency, we have been helping all sorts of organisations with their online presence since 1998. From website design and ecommerce to digital marketing and PPC campaigns.

Contact us to make your website work harder for you.