Nope! PPC isn’t a drug and it isn’t the Acronym of a traditional company. However, it is well known, at least in the digital marketing world. Paid per Click (PPC) advertising is the advertising system Google offers to all website owners. It gives websites the ability to get traffic from a first page listing on the Google index.
Still, PPC is not as simple as paying for an ad and getting on the first page of Google wherever you want. And that’s the confusing part. This is what makes new website owners a little worried about using the powerful PPC feature to get your website in front of people. But for 2016 Google has brought in important changes for the SERPS…and that makes PPC crucial for website owners who want more traffic.
Let’s talk more on PPC, how it works and what the changes are in store on the SERPS for 2016. This PPC guide will help clarify the clouds of confusion that surround PPC and how it works.
First of all though, let’s answer the most obvious question…
What is paid per click (PPC) search?
On a search engine results page (SERP), there are ways to list organically (without paying for advertising); a process that can take a long time or through advertising known as PPC. These paid-for ads normally appear at the top of a SERP.
Here’s the Google SERP for the term plumbing services in Melbourne and you can see how ads dominate the page…
Notice that these ads look like naturally occuring organic results that aren’t paid for. The only difference is that these are labelled with a small yellow “Ad”symbol. All search engines offer these types of ads both on the Search Engine Page, and on websites that request ads from the search engines (although these are also known as Adsense adverts).
Google offers the program under AdWords, but Bing and Yahoo do it through Bing Ads and Yahoo Gemini.
Why is paid search important?
How does Google make its money? It is a huge company and has to pay employees and expenses. The answer is through advertising. Whether through Ad words on SERPs or through display advertising on other websites known as AdSense; pre-roll advertisements on YouTube, Google makes money by selling advertising. In fact this is big business, Google made 17.3 Bn in just one Quarter last year.
What we want to get across here is that paid ads on SERPs is a part of the search experience whether you like it or not. And this type of advertising is going to dominate the search engines even more in the future.
You can use paid search to your advantage and it doesn’t have to be expensive, not if you use a team of experts or learn to use keywords and analytics well to dominate the search results for your industry. If you do some extensive research, choose keywords carefully and use imaginative tactics, paid search can be an effective revenue stream for even the smallest websites.
What is Google AdWords?
AdWords is the most popular of the search engine advertising services because it is linked to Google. The basic functioning of AdWords is this:
You pick the terms that a searcher wants to use on Google to find your industry. You can use the tool that Google provides to find the keywords that people most often use to find your industry. The process works like this:
You choose a term or a few terms that you think searchers might use to find your business. Put these into the Google AdWords Tool and Google will return all of the variations businesses use to find a business like yours.
- Select some terms based on search volume price that you can afford.
- Then create an advertisement that appears on the SERP using the search terms you selected.
How does Google AdWords decide which adverts to serve?
When you advertise on Google, chances are that you aren’t the only company in your industry that needs to list under that search term. More often than not you will be competing with a company like Amazon for a first position. Not to worry, there are also smaller companies listing here. But you will have to compete against other businesses, and that means you’ll have to bid on a keyword against that other keyword. So the amount you spend on advertising will depend on what you are willing to pay for Google AdWords when a searcher clicks on an advertisement. The more you are willing to pay per time a searcher clicks on your advertisement for a certain keyword the more likely your ad will appear higher up in the SERP.
Still with Google it’s not just about money. The company also uses a metric known as a quality score. This score determines how relevant your ad is in the search engine, how many clicks it has received and how relevant the landing page is. Your landing page must fulfill the promise of the advertisement, and shouldn’t be just a regular home page.
So if your keyword is “cheap plumbers in Melbourne” you need to lead them directly to service page with certain lower priced factors.
It’s this that will make your advertisement appear above that of a rival company even when your bid is less than that of your competitor.
Do I Need to Use Paid Search?
No. You can rank high in the SERPS organically by using various techniques. This is unpaid listing but getting here also depends on the focus of your website. A good on-page SEO strategy, with lots of back links (links form other sites,) fast load times and a clear navigation (with a Sitemap) goes a long way towards getting you an organic listing, however these tactics take longer than PPC. However, you may even then struggle to get a better organic result, and that’s where paid search can give you access to the top of a SERP.
And lets top things off here by saying that 2016 is bringing huge changes to the SERPS, and essentially that means that PPC will take on even more importance for this year.
What Are These Crucial Changes for 2016?
Google is making a dramatic change in the SERP…and that’s going to affect all website owners. Currently the search engine has been running a test to remove all ads from the right side of the desktop search results.
So How Does This Affect Me?
Well, it means that ads will be placed only at the top and bottom of the page. Added to that Google suggests that it may show an additional ad, which means four, and not three, at the top of a search engine results page.
This is the result of a test Google has been conducting off and on since 2010. This means people will start seeing the top-only ads more frequently.
Google has now confirmed that this is a change that is rolling out to search engines in all countries, and ads will not appear on the right side except for When there is a Product Listing Ad – A PLA may show to the right.
The Impact is an Important One
This is an important change and let us clarify why:
The elimination of right sided ads means that ads will display from top to bottom…and consequently take up more space of the page. While this will make mobile and desktop searches more similar, it will also make it harder for small businesses to get organic listings for the key terms they want.
How Will Those Who Don’t Advertise Be Impacted?
Website owners who rely solely on organic search marketing, which is the listing of a website based on content and keyword research alone will see their websites pushed further down the ladder. If they were in the first few listings on the SERPs they will see listings drop below the fold. And statistics show that searchers rarely scroll below the first fold of the screen. In other words, it will be much more difficult to list a website in the search engines without the help of advertising.
What About My Google Maps Listing?
Yes. Google maps listings are still free (for the time being) and these can be a great way to get a website listed for one set of local keywords. But still there should be more than one or two keywords your business needs to list for. And we just don’t know how long Google will keep Maps a free feature. The company is considering making this a paid feature as well.
How Will PPC Change for Marketers?
There will also be a significant impact on Cost Per Click, as more advertisers will compete for top slots above the organic results. There will be more competition and a higher cost per click.
The Quality Score is More Significant Now
Today, QS is king. The Quality Score will play a key role for a lower cost per click and only high quality ads will appear at the top of the page. So keywords with low quality scores will see a high drop in traffic.
Long Tail Keywords of Great Value
Long Tail Keywords haven’t been of much importance, until now. Web marketers didn’t focus as strongly on improving QS. But this yeare these long tail key words will play a key role as they improve scores and give you relevant ads for landing pages.
Product Listing Ads
PLAs will also have more visibility, as a lot of text ads will be reduced and this can improve the click through rate for the PLA.
Companies that don’t have a strict advertising budget can get top positions, but they will see increased competition as higher quality will count – A LOT. In general, we will see the quality of ads go down in lower positions.
Google advertising has always been very affordable for advertisers with limited budgets but now advertisers will need to increase spending to get better results.
Where is Google Headed With This?
We can only speculate at this point, but the changes have been coming for a while and Google has made a public move towards friendly mobile design. Because mobile devices don’t support that right hand column well, this may just be a simple attempt to standardize the advertising platform across all devices.
Second there are more than a few right hand elements that have come into existence in the last few years as well. This includes Knowledge Panels and Paid Shopping Blocks, it’s these that are pushing the right hand column ads down, sometimes below the fold.
What is the Overall Recommendation?
We recommend that to truly master the search marketing niche, and get your website viewed by potential clients, you use a combination of PPC as well as Free SEO.
How Much of Each?
Well, that really depends on your market and the keywords that you aren’t ranking for which you should be. We like many other marketers recommend you do both so you completely dominate the SERP and push your competition further down the page.