Getting your website found highly in search engines, such as Google, Bing/Yahoo! (the last two have now merged their search databases) may be done via paid listings, such as Google Ads. Paid listings are also known as Pay Per Click (PPC), or ‘sponsored links.’

GoogleWhat are Google Ads and how do they work?

Google Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are advertisements that are triggered to show up by a user’s search words. In other words, advertisers “bid” on keyword phrases which are relevant to their target market – in other words to the searcher.

The placement of a company’s ad on Google’s search results page (SERPS) depends, amongst other things, on the maximum amount they are willing to pay for a ‘click through’ to their site.

Advertisers only get charged by Google when a user clicks on their ad, and they are able to set a maximum daily or monthly budget. When that budget runs out, their ads will disappear.

Features are in place to prevent ‘click fraud’, e.g. a competitor repeatedly clicking on someone’s ad in order to use up their budget and make their ad disappear.

PPC ads are the sponsored links seen at the top, bottom and down the right-hand side of search engine results pages (aka SERPS). You can see them on Google, Yahoo, Bing (formerly MSN) and on some content web sites, as well as blogs.

You can also setup special mobile phone ads for those surfing the web via their mobile, and there are also now special image ads, i.e. not just textual ones.

How do Google ads differ from ordinary search results?

Google Ad layoutPPC ads are normally identified as being “sponsored”, separating them from the “organic” (natural – i.e. not PPC) web site search results seen on the rest of the page.

Here, on the right, we can see Google Ads at the top of the page (in pale yellow) and down the right-hand side, under the map. All these companies have paid Google for their listings to show up where they do.

In contrast, the ones under the pale yellow block have not been paid for. These are called Organic Listings, because they have achieved their positioning through ‘natural search’, i.e. they have not paid Google to be there.

Top organic web site positioning results will likely have been attained via search engine optimisation techniques and not PPC.

Successful organic search results take into account all sorts of things, such as the usefulness of a web site to a searcher, the way it was constructed and – very important – the quality of the site’s content (“Content is King!”). All this should be checked during the search engine optimisation process.

Search engines are less likely to give high priority to web sites that are irrelevant because they lack useful content, are out-of-date, badly-built and/or full of “spammy” content.

When is PPC advertising used?

PPC advertising is a useful tool for web sites that are new and not yet listed in search engines, for those that are not appearing in the first couple of pages of results, or where you need to ‘top up’ your search engine ranking.

It is also useful for those that have a web site that will most likely never achieve a decent search engine ranking, perhaps due to the fact that the site has been badly built, but it is not cost-effective or desirable to rebuild it at that time.

PPC is often used where competition is fierce to get to the top in organic search engine listings, e.g. holiday lettings, sex sites.

How much do PPC ads cost?

It is impossible to predict how much Google ads etc. will cost since each individual company’s target market is different. However, you set a daily or monthly budget so you are always in control of your spend and this can be adjusted as you start to see results. Ads can be setup for as little as £1 a day, although some companies have a daily budget of thousands of pounds.

How much control over the ads would I have?

You have the flexibility to set your ads to only show at certain times of the day, only on certain days, to certain parts of the world, to particular demographics and more. You can stop and restart your ads, making the whole process extremely appealing.

PPC ads -v- traditional advertising in magazines etc.

All in all sponsored listings, such as Google Ads, are a very cheap way of getting your products in front of numerous potential customers. After all, just one lead may cover your entire monthly PPC spend, or even more. Compared to the cost of most traditional advertising, there really is no comparison.