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How Does Google PPC Work?

ppc results

What exactly is PPC advertising? PPC stands for pay-per-click and is a great way to drive traffic to one’s website. Millions of businesses use PPC advertising as part of their marketing strategy, and it has proven to be a profitable way to generate business over and over again. 

There are multiple platforms that offer PPC advertising services. They include Google, Bing, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. There are certainly others, but these are the main platforms with Google being the largest by far. Because of this, I will primarily discuss how Google Ads (Google’s PPC platform) works, but many of the basic ideas will apply to the other platforms.

What is Pay-Per-Click?

Often when business owners first ask me about PPC, they think it stands for paper clip. To be fair, when said quickly, it’s easy to see how it’s confusing. So what does pay-per-click actually mean? It means that every time someone clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays Google for that visitor. There are multiple benefits of advertising this way, but I want to focus on two. 

The first benefit is that the advertiser only pays for actual visits to their website. Unlike a billboard where it’s really hard to gauge the actual foot traffic an advertisement generated, an advertiser can see exactly how many visitors came to their website, the exact cost of those visitors, and how many visitors took a valuable action on the website. All this information makes profitability much easier to obtain. 

The second benefit is control. When an advertiser uses PPC advertising, they have control over who sees their ad, the text of their ad, and the webpage the visitor comes to when the ad is clicked.

Main Components of PPC

There are three main components of PPC marketing on Google’s Search Network:

  1. Keywords
  2. Ads
  3. The ad auction

Keywords are phrases for which the advertiser wants their ad to show. The advertiser has complete control over what phrases show their ads. This is great but does put more responsibility on the advertiser. It is essential for the advertiser to do research to find the phrases that their ideal customers are searching for on Google. There are many tools for keyword research. Many cost money, so the easiest solution is to use Google’s Keyword Planner tool within the Google Ads platform. 

Once the advertiser has chosen the keywords, they need to write ads that correspond to their chosen keywords. In general, it’s best to write as relevant an ad as possible, so the keywords should be broken down into categories where the same ad will be relevant to each keyword in the category. Within Google Ads, these categories are called ad groups. Learn more about ad groups and their organization

The ad auction is how Google determines what ads to show when a search is performed. Every time a search is performed, an ad auction takes place. Every ad eligible to show for that keyword enters the auction. The outcome is determined by the ad rank. Ad rank is basically a score that Google gives each ad based on multiple factors. The three main factors are the bid, the quality of the ad and landing page, and the expected impact of ad extensions. 

The bid is simply how much the advertiser is willing to pay for a click on their ad. Ad extensions are tools within Google Ads that allow advertisers to add more information to their ads. 

Once an ad rank has been assigned, the ads are shown to the searcher along with the rest of the search results.

PPC Google Ads Results

The above image shows the search results for the search term “tax accountant software”. The first four results are ads. The four advertisers added the keyword “tax accountant software” in their Google Ads account, and wrote an ad specifically for people searching that term. They also chose the webpage that will be visited by anyone clicking on their ad. 


There are many other elements that are a part of PPC, but the above information covers the basics of the most common way to do PPC advertising. 

PPC stands for pay-per-click and is a method of advertising where the advertiser only pays for actual visits to their website. Google Ads is the biggest platform for PPC and advertising on the Search Network is the most basic use of Google Ads. 

The advertiser writes an ad and chooses what search terms show that ad. The rank of the ad is determined by the ad auction every time a search is performed. The best way to show often and high in the rankings is to have a quality ad, a quality landing page, a competitive bid, and ad extensions. 

Sebo Marketing has been optimizing Google Ads accounts since 2005. If you are thinking about PPC advertising for your business, we’d love to help you get started or take the hassle out of your hands. Fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you within one day.

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