PPC FAQs Answered

When it comes to PPC (Pay Per Click), otherwise known as Paid Media or Paid Search it can quickly become quite technical. We are here to help you answer those burning questions and debunk some common misconceptions around PPC.

What is PPC?

PPC stands for Pay Per Click. It is a form of online advertising, in which you pay for clicks on your adverts. Traditionally it referred solely advertising platforms such as Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), but over the years it has developed to cover all forms of Paid Media Advertising. PPC could now refer to Paid Search, Display Advertising or Paid Social Advertising.

How do I tell the difference between paid ads and organic?

In Google (or other search engines) the easiest (and sometimes only) way to differentiate the ads from organic is by the little ‘ad’ or ‘sponsored’ label that appears alongside any of the paid listings. Paid ads typically appear above and below the organic listings.

Organic vs paid listings

Are PPC and Google Ads the same thing?

In short, yes. Google Ads is a form of PPC. There are other platforms which also offer PPC such as Microsoft Ads. They all work in a similar way in which you pay the platform a fee for each click on one of your adverts.

What is an ad network?

An ad network refers to the platform that delivers your ads to users. In PPC ad networks refer to platforms such as Google Ads, Microsoft Ads and Facebook Ads.

Who should use PPC?

PPC can be used by all advertisers in one form or another. PPC is easily scalable and controllable which makes it suitable for budgets of all sizes.

What does PPC advertising cost?

The cost of PPC advertising depends on several factors and can vary for each and every business. With PPC you are able to create a budget that suits your business and keep this budget fluid. This means that you can move budget around between ad networks and other marketing activities on the fly.


  1. The competition in the industry/sector. For example, some industries such as insurance/lawyers have much higher costs associated per click than those of eCommerce
  2. Your budgets. As you set campaign budgets you can easily control how much you spend. The amount you spend will directly influence what you get back, but you can, if needed, start small and scale up
  3. The platforms you are using. Each platform has different costs. For example, the display network offers very cheap cost per clicks, but the traffic is less targeted and is higher up the conversion funnel
  4. The quality and relevance of your ads in relation to what a user is looking for.

Why should I use PPC ads?

PPC advertising offers businesses of all sizes the opportunity to compete in the marketplace to win customers. You should use PPC advertising because:


  • It can help you get your business in front of potential customers quick
  • It reaches users at all stages of the purchasing funnel
  • It helps you reach users with high intent
  • It allows your business to compete with large and small businesses alike
  • Platforms like Google deliver ads based on their quality, big businesses can’t just rely on big ad budgets to get them in the number 1 position
  • It is very reactive so you can respond to campaign and market performance in real-time
  • It allows you to rank above your competitors’ ads
  • Very often shows above the organic search results
  • Highly measurable
  • It works in support of other marketing initiatives

How does PPC advertising work?

PPC can work in a couple of ways depending on which platform, network and ad type you are using. In the traditional sense, this would be Google Ads search network with a text ad. In this instance PPC works like this:


  1. A user identifies a need or want
  2. They enter a search into Google for that product or service
  3. Google puts this search into the ad auction and compiles all relevant ads
  4. The auction assesses each ad’s bid, relevance (quality in relation to the search) and likely outcome and assigns each ad an ad rank
  5. Google delivers the ads to the user in order of highest to lowest ad rank

As this is happening in the back end of the ad auction, Google also uses all of this information to calculate the CPC for each advertiser

What keywords should I target?

When using PPC in its traditional sense you will target based on keywords. These keywords match up to what a user is actually inputting into the search bar on Google or Microsoft. When selecting which keywords to target you should consider the following:


  • Use keywords that are directly relevant to your product, service or brand
  • Use keywords that potential customers are likely to search for
  • Use keyword research tools such as Keyword Planner or Answer the Public to help you identify popular searches
  • Consider long-tail and more generic keywords to capture users with different intents.

And always keep in mind that you can test and pause keywords if they aren’t successful for your business.

Where can you advertise with PPC?

With PPC ads you can advertise across a large portion of the internet. This covers:

  • Search engines such as Google, Bing and Duck Duck Go
  • Social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest
  • Third-party websites that are signed up to ad networks. These can range from national news publications like the Daily Mail, to niche industry-specific sites.

How can I check my competitors’ activity?

Depending on the data you wish to see, there are a number of ways that you can check what PPC activity your competitors are running. Some are free to access, others are on a subscription basis.

Free competitor research tools

  • Auction insights: The auction insights report shows which competitors your ads are appearing against, as well as the share of impressions that you and your competitors are receiving
  • Facebook Ads Library: Ads Library in Facebook allows you to see what ads any business is running across the meta platforms
  • LinkedIn posts: On LinkedIn if you visit a company’s page you can see both the posts they have published, as well as filter this down to just ads
  • My Ad Centre: My Ad Centre released a new feature towards the end of 2022 that offers ad transparency for ads that are run across search, display and video placements on Google. To access the feature you need to trigger a competitor’s ad, carefully click the drop-down arrow next to the URL and then you will be able to select ‘See more ads’

Google My Ad Centre

Other premium subscription tools:

  • Similarweb
  • SEMrush

To learn more on competitor research in paid media catch up on our webinar, or read in more detail in our keeping ahead of your competitors blog.

How can I measure the success of my PPC campaigns?

The success of a PPC campaign can be different for each business. It will depend on the objectives of the campaigns you are running. All objectives have key performance metrics though that you can use to review the outcomes. The most popular key performance metrics are:

  • CTR (Click Through Rate) – This will tell you how well your ad is answering a user’s search
  • Conversion rate – This will tell you how well your product or service is meeting expectations and how well your landing page is performing to convert traffic into sales or leads
  • ROAS (Return On Ad Spend) – This will tell you for every pound you are spending how many you are making back. It can help you assess whether your campaigns are profitable or not
  • CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) – This will tell you how much it is costing you to acquire a new customer or lead. You can use this to determine whether it is profitable.

How can I improve the performance of my PPC campaigns?

There are several ways in which you can work to improve the performance of your PPC campaigns, whether you are looking to expand on success or adjust campaigns that are not working.

The main areas to consider when looking to improve performance are:

  • Structure: Structure can impact the success of an account. The structure of your account directly determines things such as budgets and bids, so an inefficient structure can hinder performance. Typically, you would structure an account based on campaign type, product or service theme, profitability, seasonality and budgets
  • Optimisation: Optimisation is a wide-ranging term that covers small tweaks and actions taken to improve the performance of a PPC campaign. This could be making exclusions to searches and placements or tweaking bids to increase ad delivery
  • Ad testing: Ad testing is something that you should constantly be doing in order to ensure your ads are always developing. Even with the use of responsive search ads in Google Ads there are tests that you can run to determine the best headlines and descriptions. From headline pinning and asset numbers supplied you are able to determine which variations perform best
  • Landing page testing: Like ad testing, landing page tests are a crucial element of improving your PPC performance. Whilst the ads are responsible for getting users to your website, it is your landing pages’ job to convert those users. You can test small changes such as button colours and on-page text, to bigger changes like alternative pages

How can I reach the right audience with my PPC ads?

In order to reach the right audience with your PPC campaigns you first need to understand and define who your target audience is. Secondly, you need to understand which platforms this audience is on and how they behave on each one. The building blocks of reaching the right audience are:

  • Effective keyword research
  • Defining who you are trying to reach
  • Using negative targeting to control who your ads are reaching
  • Tailoring your ads to the audience.


How often should I check my PPC campaigns?

You should be looking at your ads on a frequent basis. It is recommended to run a basic check on your account each day. This basic check should ensure that there are no issues with ad delivery and your budget is on track.

You also want to run more detailed checks on weekly and monthly bases to help develop your account and identify trends in the data.


If you still have unanswered questions around PPC then we offer a range of services that can help and support you. From training sessions on each platform, to management, consultation and auditing. Get in touch to discuss more.


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