What is PPC?

PPC stands for pay-per-click, a model of internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits organically. Search engine advertising is one of the most popular forms of PPC.

Pay-per-click is the model that most platforms and channels use when allowing businesses to advertise on their properties. Whether it’s on a search engine or a social channel, the advertiser pays every time a user clicks on a sponsored link or ad.

On a search engine results page (SERP), you can pay for your website to appear in specific sections of the results. These paid-for ads normally appear at the top of a SERP, to the right-hand side, or within a separate ‘Shopping’ section.

The major search engines make the majority of their revenue from advertising. Whether that’s through Google AdWords, Bing Ads or Yahoo Gemini.

Increasingly paid search ads are dominating SERPs and social channels and will continue to do so for the near future. This means you have to use paid search to your advantage, especially if your site is new and struggling to achieve any presence on the SERPs with your current search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy.

When it comes to boosting traffic to your website, you have two basic options:

# pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
#search engine optimization (SEO).
You can pay for traffic using the PPC advertising programs provided by Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing and others.

Why Use Pay-Per-Click?

Sometime you cannot afford to—or simply do not want to—wait. Pay-per-click search engines allow you to be listed at the top of search results quickly, which allows you to:
A. Quickly gather feedback on market conditions.
B. Split test a live audience and gather ad test results in real time.
C. Prototype ideas to track demand before you invest into a new business model or are stuck footing the bill for a new site.

As an example of the power of PPC, you can use Google AdWords to offer a free white paper about a topic from a one-page website. If nobody is interested in downloading your white paper, or you cannot seem to get enough click-throughs, then that could indicate one or several things:
A. You are not bidding high enough to get exposure.
B. The market is not yet ready for your product.
C. You are marketing it from the wrong angle.
D. Your landing page is not making a compelling offer.
E. You are marketing it to the wrong people.

Whom Should I Trust in Pay-Per-Click?

There are a few major players in the pay-per-click arena.
A. Google AdWords has a larger distribution network across Google, AOL, Ask, About, Earthlink, and many others’ sites (even a few of my own).
B. Yahoo! Search Marketing currently has network partnerships that span Yahoo, InfoSpace, AltaVista, AllTheWeb, and many other partners.
C. Microsoft adCenter is a new player in the market, but their limited syndication network means their traffic quality is high.

When beginning pay-per-click advertising, I would recommend focusing on Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Microsoft adCenter. I also published an article mentioning some of the other networks, but they are not recommended off the start due to dirtier traffic sources and slower market feedback.