Our Digital Marketing Services team has many years of experience helping businesses embrace digital advertising. As a result of this ongoing client interaction, we’ve compiled the list of the most common PPC questions we’ve received over the years. The PPC FAQs below are available to help you get started on your journey to what has now become the most popular advertising method.

1. Why is PPC important?

In 2019, for the first time ever, digital advertising spend will surpass traditional ad buys, which means that more and more businesses are discovering the value of campaigns like pay-per-click (PPC). Thanks to the speed to market, performance data and budget control that PPC advertising offers, it is a high-value method of presenting your products and services to the right audience at the right time.

But let’s not stop there. PPC also offers the following advantages:

  • PPC provides a business with the opportunity to place ads in front of businesses and individual consumers based on specific search queries. By understanding your customer’s journey, you can strategically identify both in-market users searching for your brand or your products and services, and users earlier in their journey to help build a sustainable pipeline for new business.
  • The data you obtain from PPC will also provide valuable insights that will help drive other key business decisions. For example, thanks to the speed to market and budget control that PPC offers, it’s a great way to easily test how people engage with your ads, products, and services in a new geographic market to aid in market research. It also provides demographic data that will help you better understand age ranges and other metrics that may be areas of opportunity for your business.
  • PPC offers quantifiable results. Where with radio and print placements you simply must rely on a new customer identifying that source as to how they discovered your business, with PPC, conversion tracking allows you to know exactly how many leads your campaigns have generated. Now you can demonstrate very specific and accurate ROAS (return on ad spend) without the guesswork.

2. How does PPC work?

PPC stands for pay-per-click marketing, which means that an advertiser pays each time their ad is clicked on. Stated another way, PPC is a pay-to-play bidding platform that rewards companies who are willing to pay more and/or dedicate more time on their campaigns with better ad placement and performance.

The Google Economic Impact Report states that on average, a business generates $2 in revenue for every $1 spent in its Ads platform. All in all, that is a solid ROI. To achieve these results, your PPC campaigns require lots of routine maintenance. Because these ads are so high-value and offer such impressive ROI, most organizations prefer to outsource PPC management to companies with experts in the field who can dedicate the time it requires to deliver these great results.

We’ve already written two strong pieces of content to allow you to learn even more about the basics of PPC. You can dig deeper into PPC by reading PPC 101 or PPC vs. SEO.

3. What is the difference between ad impressions and ad clicks?

When an ad is viewed by a person who uses a search engine to type a search query, it is called an impression. Impressions are free, but in order to get them, you must have highly relevant ad experiences with a competitive bid for that search query.

To take it a step further from impression to click, you must have an ad that separates you from your competitors with relevant messaging, and all the latest features and add-ons that help increase your ad’s real estate.

Herein lies the beauty of pay-per-click: you only actually pay when someone interacts with your ads!

4. How is my cost for advertising determined?

What you pay is determined by a number of factors, including:

  • What your competitors are willing to pay
  • How well your ad is written
  • How relevant your ad is
  • How well your landing page performs and how successful your ad is

Because Google and other PPC channels strive to ensure they create a highly relevant experience for search users, and because they also want to ensure that advertisers continue generating strong ROAS, they reward highly relevant ad experiences with lower costs per click.

What does this mean? The better you maintain your ads, your keyword universe, and your landing page experiences, the most cost-effective your PPC campaigns will be!

5. How do I ensure good campaign performance?

Our PPC Strategists take a number of steps to ensure your campaigns are meeting your business goals:

  • Set-up and launch: Your PPC Strategist will invest the time it requires to understand your business and objectives to identify the keywords and campaigns that achieve the results you’re after. After determining each individual term, and the appropriate bid amount for each using historical bid data from Google and other PPC channels, your Strategist will then write ad copy that will deliver the highest click volumes for each of your term categories. He or she will also work with you to provide landing page recommendations that help your entire ad experience be as relevant as possible to a search user.
  • Routine maintenance: After launching your campaigns your PPC Strategist will spend the time on routine campaign maintenance so that you don’t have to. This means checking on your keyword bids to ensure they’re still high enough to achieve the best ad placement, checking to ensure that user searches are relevant to your products and services, performing A/B test on ad variations to ensure your campaigns are in a state of constant improvement, monthly performance reporting and much more.

6. How do I define “success” in a PPC campaign?

True success is the kind that gives you a return on investment (ROI). At a minimum, you need to measure both clicks and conversions. Conversions are people who click on an ad and also take the next step of filling out an online form or calling your business.

You may also choose to measure the success of individual campaigns in different ways. For example, success wouldn’t look the same for a campaign designed to give you more traffic to your Facebook page as it would for a Search campaign designer to generate more sales.

“Success” for your emagine team means tracking clicks and post-click activity. It’s a process that includes “qualifying” leads through the sales funnel. Our team implements data-driven tracking that holds your clicks accountable to the bottom line.

7. Should I automate campaign performance?

No! Our PPC Strategists monitor your account daily because PPC pricing fluctuates like the stock market. If a PPC campaign is left running in “set it and forget it” mode on automated software, your return on investment will be at risk.

8. How often should I review PPC accounts, keywords, and negative keywords?

At least every three days, at a minimum. Anything longer can cause wasteful spending. Our PPC Strategists monitor traffic regularly to identify emerging keywords with a high return in clicks and conversions. At the same time, we identify and filter out keywords that cause your ad to appear in irrelevant consumer searches, which puts you at risk for worthless clicks and drains your budget.

9. How often should I present performance updates to internal stakeholders?

We meet regularly with our clients to review performance and work through maintenance oriented tasks. Some clients prefer to meet weekly to discuss these items, while most prefer to meet biweekly, as it best aligns with their schedules and gives us time to collect more data to review at once.

We also recommend, and implement for our clients, establishing a monthly reporting template to cover the business metrics that are most important for each client’s campaigns. This is a great way to keep other key company leaders informed and up-to-date on the great progress that your PPC campaigns will be making!

10. Where will my PPC ads appear?

Your PPC ad can appear on multiple platforms. These include the following options:

Google Search Network – Your ad can show next to organic search results when someone searches with terms related to one of your keywords.
PPC Ads in the Google Search Network

Google Display Network – Your ad can be placed as a display ads on a huge network of sites across the internet.
PPC Ad in Google Display Network

Google Partner Network – Examples include AOL, Amazon, NYTimes, WashingtonPost.com
PPC Ad in Google Partner Network

11. Why am I not seeing my PPC ads?

This is actually one of our top PPC FAQs! There are many options for answering that question. Here are a few of the most answers for missing ads:

  • Targeting Parameters: Consider whether you fit your own targeting parameters. Are you within the same geographic location or household income ranges that you’re targeting?
  • Relevance: We’ve touched on the fact that Google likes to ensure that its search users and advertisers are both reaching the right audience and receiving the right messaging. If you fit your own targeting parameters and perform regular searches to try and trigger your own ads, eventually Google will assume that after seeing your own ads frequently without interacting with them, that these ads are not relevant to you.
  • Frequency Caps: Another component of ad relevancy is not showing the ads too many times and too often to a single user. Most PPC channels cap how often a single user will see your ads unless you specifically override the feature. This prevents ad fatigue and ensures your ads don’t repeatedly show to a user who is unlikely to engage with them. If you have actively searched to trigger your own ads, you may have reached the frequency cap in that channel.
  • Budget: If your campaign’s daily budget is not large enough to capture 100% of daily search volume, your ads are being limited by Google in an effort to stay within your ad budget. A metric to focus on here is Search Lost Impression Share due to Budget Limitations. If your campaigns are losing impressions due to budget, this is a likely reason you are not seeing your ad.
  • Ad Rank: Similar to budget, if your keyword’s ad rank is low your ads will not show for  100% of daily search volume. The metric to focus on here is Search Lost Impression Share due to Rank.
  • Keyword Usage: This could be as simple as making sure the keyword phrase you are testing in search actually aligns with the keywords listed in your PPC campaign.
  • Bid Adjustments for Time: Examples would be time of day or day of week. If your campaigns are set to be offline during certain days/hours you won’t see your ads during those times.
  • Bid Adjustments for Device: If you’re searching on a mobile device you may not see your ads due to bid adjustments that limit mobile traffic. This prevents ads from running in apps and other placements where users are not likely to be interested in ad messaging.
  • IP Exclusion: IP addresses can be excluded from seeing search ads at the campaign level. This setting was created to stop click fraud from known fraudulent IP addresses, but it is sometimes used to stop unknowing employees from wasting ad spend budget by clicking on their own ads. If you can’t see ads at work but can elsewhere, this may be the cause.

12. Why aren’t my ads on the top of the page?

Your ad rank may be lower than a competitor’s. The 2 main drivers of ad rank are your keyword bid (Max CPC) and Quality Score. One fix for this issue is increasing your keyword bids until your ad shows on the top of the page. If your quality scores are low, improving click-through-rate via ad copy testing is the most effective method for resolution.

Keep in mind as well that being in the top position doesn’t necessarily equate to more clicks. Some ads actually perform better in the second or third position, as users don’t always necessarily click on the first ad they see. Your goal should be to come in above organic search results, though that doesn’t have to mean top position.

It may also not make sense to drive for the first ad position for every term. Understanding what your priority terms are, and which position in the customer journey phase they signify, will help you understand where to be the most and least aggressive in terms of position and bids. Paying an additional $10 for an ad click for a term that implies a user is just beginning to research, may or may not be an effective way to create a strong ROI for your PPC ad spend.

13.  I see my competitor’s ads everywhere. How do we do that?

Remarketing Basics Infographic
Click to Enlarge

What you’re likely seeing is remarketing ads, which we recommend when your budget allows for it, and when it is allowed for your content.

We mentioned “allowed”, because the healthcare industry is not able to remarket to users, as this is considered a violation of both HIPPA and most PPC channel policies, like Google.

Remarketing (or retargeting) works by setting a cookie for users when they visit your site. This cookie then allows you to explicitly target those users as they browse other websites across Google’s display network. In many cases, you can also upload customer lists to retarget based on their email address and other identifying information.

By creating remarketing audiences that focus on segmenting users by which phase of their customer journey they’re in, you can create highly relevant messaging that helps move people through your marketing funnel much more quickly.

14. Why is my cost-per-click increasing?

  • Competition: Just like you and your team are optimizing your keywords, you can bet that your competition is as well! An increase in aggressiveness from just one of your competitors could result in significantly higher CPC’s.
  • Quality Score: A decrease in quality score can lead to substantially higher click costs. While many variables are taken into consideration when calculating a quality score, the major factors are click-through-rate, PPC ad relevance, and landing page relevance.

15. Why do I see my competitor’s listing when I search for my business?

Your competition has realized that users looking for your business are potential customers for their own business, and have likely begun bidding on your brand name as one of their targeted keywords. Unfortunately, there isn’t any way to stop them from doing so.

This can be a cost-effective means of reaching prospects and one that you may consider as well. Keep in mind, however, that you want to be careful not to create a bidding war on branded terms.  This would significantly increase your ad spend and have a negative impact on your overall ROI.

16. Should I bid on my brand name?

Bidding on your brand name is typically a good decision, but it certainly depends. If you find that many competitors are bidding on your brand name, it’s likely a good decision in order to take up as much real estate as possible on the page and ensure searchers find you and not your competition. These branded clicks are generally extremely inexpensive and well worth the few pennies to ensure your competition doesn’t steal your customers or prospects away.

17. How do I know where to start to improve my PPC performance?

Now that you’ve read through all of these PPC FAQs, you’re probably wondering how you can put all this new knowledge into action and improve your ROI. We’d love to help. In fact, our PPC team will help for free!

We can provide a full account audit for you that identifies where you have built a strong foundation, and the priority items to address in the near term that will give you the largest performance improvements. This isn’t your run of the mill PPC account audit that produces a computer-generated report. Instead, an actual PPC Strategist will provide data tailored to your account, with a personal note on their decisions from a strategic perspective.

Request your free PPC audit today!