Simplifying Digital Marketing
Pay per click

Pay-Per-Click Advertising – What Is PPC & Why Do You Need It?8 min read

Pay-per-click (PPC), search engine advertising, and sponsored listings… are all examples of search engine marketing (SEM). the list goes on and on And that’s before you start throwing around terms like Google Ads (previously Google AdWords), Google Product Listing Ads, Google Shopping Ads, and Bing Ads.

Paid search and pay-per-click – PPC – are not interchangeable phrases since paid search marketing can include additional payment models such as CPM (cost per mille, or cost per thousand impressions) or CPA (cost per action/acquisition).

PPC (pay-per-click) is still the most popular type of paid search, and the two acronyms are sometimes used interchangeably. As a result, we’ll concentrate on pay-per-click paid search in this tutorial, while highlighting how it differs from other types of sponsored search ads.

So, how do you recognize paid search results when you see them in the wild?

When a user types “red dress” into Google, the following appears in the search engine results page (SERP):

red dress
Screenshot from Google

The paid search results are in the carousel at the top, marked with the word “Sponsored,” as you can see from the screenshot. Product Listing Ads (PLAs), also known as Google Shopping Ads (though other comparison services may show in similar spaces), are a sort of pay-per-click ad that appears when a user searches for a product on Google.

In the example illustrated, Cilory has the highest Ad Rank for the search term ‘red dress,’ hence Cilory is at the top of the results box. If a user clicks on the first product and visits Cilory’s website, it will most certainly cost Cilory more than the other listed companies, but Ad Rank is determined by more than just bid price. Read more on Google – the quality of your ad, any ad extensions you’ve utilized, and the context of the user search are all criteria that influence Ad Rank.

What do non-product search paid search adverts to look like? Here’s a search for “google ads expert” (which, as you might expect, is a popular term):

google ads expert
Screenshot from Google

Instead of a carousel of product images, we’re given a list of ordinary text ads that look like search results, with the exception of a modest “Ad” label to the left of the web link.

When we switch to Bing, we’re met with a very similar-looking experience on both counts: a visual carousel for Bing Product Ads (which are part of Bing Shopping) and text-based ads for a non-product search (see below).

Screenshot from Bing

A vocabulary of abbreviations

Here’s a complete list of what each one means.


Cost Per Click (CPC), refers to the amount you pay the search engine for each individual click on your ad as an advertiser on a SERP. It’s essentially the same as PPC (pay-per-click), except some people use Cost Per Click to refer to the statistic that measures cost per click, while others use PPC to refer to the entire strategy.


Cost Per Mille (CPM), refers to the price per thousand impressions. Unlike CPC, this advertising model is based on the number of people who see the ad (known as “impressions”) rather than the number of people who click on it. This technique is most effective for businesses that want to raise brand awareness rather than create direct sales.


Product Listing Ads (PLA), are also known as Google Shopping Ads.


The most common sponsored search model is Pay Per Click (PPC), which is typically used to refer to all paid searches. As previously stated, it works similarly to Cost Per Click (CPC) in that the advertiser pays the search engine for each click on their ad.


The term “Search Engine Marketing,” often known as “Search Marketing,” is a bit of a misnomer. It is frequently used to refer solely to paid search advertising, although it can also relate to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is Google’s own advertising network. It offers PPC/CPC, CPM, and site-targeted banner, text, and rich media advertisements, as well as site-targeted banner, text, and rich media ads.

You can show your adverts on one or both of Google’s advertising networks by using Google Ads:

  • Google Search Network, which includes Google Search, Google Shopping, Maps, and its numerous search partners, and includes any adverts that appear on Google search results pages.
  • Google Display Network, which includes any Google-affiliated website as well as other Google properties such as Gmail and YouTube.

You can set your bid (the amount you’re prepared to pay for each click) to manual or automated in Google Ads if you pick CPC. You choose your bid amounts with manual, but Google chooses the bid amount for you within your budget with automated. You can specify your maximum bid amount with CPC and CPM.

Why should you use PPC?

The most significant advantage of paid search is that your business will appear at the top of the search engine results page. While improving your organic search strategy in the hopes of ranking in position 1 – or position 0 with a featured snippet – on the SERP is always feasible, sponsored search guarantees it. This is especially true on mobile, where a smaller screen means that sponsored results take up a larger portion of the screen.

Many searchers can’t tell the difference between paid and organic search results, according to multiple surveys (Ofcom data from 2016 found that only 49% of adults could reliably identify sponsored search results as ads), implying that searchers’ willingness to trust organic search results over paid results is often the same.

PPC is the quickest road to the top if you have the money to invest. If you’re familiar with the platform, you can put up a PPC campaign in about an hour and appear in the sponsored results right away.

Search marketing also makes tracking a lot easier. You don’t have to take a chance on advertising you’ve already paid for in other media and have no way of knowing how successful they are. Every ad, phrase, and cent spent can be tracked with paid search, allowing for a more accurate ROI. It’s also a lot easier for advertisers to test advertisements as a result of this.

All of this, plus the option to access each search engine’s affiliate network websites and products, as well as the flexibility to schedule ads and target them to certain locations and times, makes sponsored search an important aspect of your marketing plan.

Alternatives to Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ads

You can still make considerable progress with organic marketing whether you run a small business, have a limited marketing budget, or simply don’t want to get into bed with the major search engines.

Although it may appear that marketing is becoming increasingly “pay to play,” a smart organic marketing plan, whether it’s search engine optimization (SEO) or social media efforts, can yield significant results.

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