If you’ve been trying to gain more traffic to your site and increase your sales or leads, you’re likely to have come across PPC, or Pay-Per-Click advertising. It’s a form of marketing where you pay a fee every time an ad is clicked and someone visits your site – you’re paying for traffic, rather than gaining it organically.

Why should I do it?

There are lots of reasons to give PPC a go. One is that, if you’re a startup, it helps you stand out from other, more established businesses – you might not be ranking on Google’s first page, but you can still get on that all-important first page by shelling out.

Another reason is, due to the clever targeting you can implement, you can reach a whole new audience – great if you’re just starting out.

When it comes to social advertising, and Facebook in particular, organic reach is declining all the time. This is due to the sheer amount of content on the social network now, and also due to the algorithms dedicated to providing more personalised content on the newsfeed. Great for users of Facebook, but for brands it’s making it harder to find an audience, and then to connect and talk with your customers. By promoting posts, or setting sidebar ads, you have more chance of getting noticed by the relevant people – and Facebook is more likely to ‘reward’ your business’s page in future, so it has a long-term benefit.

Main types of PPC

Search engine advertising

Search engines such as Google are vital in getting people to your business, but competition to reach the top of the rankings is fierce. Enter PPC, where you can bid for keywords relevant to your business offering.

To use Google as an example, the ads will appear at the top, above the organic results as ‘sponsored results’. Every time that someone does click on the ad and visit your website, you have to pay the fee. However you’re still competing against similar services, so it’s not the same as purchasing a static ad on a blog.

Social PPC

With social PPC, you create an ad that appears on a social platform –This could be a promoted post, inviting people to engage with it, or an ad that takes you to a landing page and (hopefully) sees clicks converted into leads. Again where with traditional adverts you pay an insertion fee, regardless of the outcome, with social PPC you only pay if someone clicks on the advert.

What is PPC? - Virgin StartUp

Benefits of PPC

The benefits of PPC include:

  • Most obviously, you only pay when someone clicks – so you know that people are clicking to the exact place you want them to go, and you’re paying for actions rather than impressions. This also means you can get important data about your conversion rates and people’s reactions to your advert.
  • You can target specific audiences based on age, location, and more. With Facebook advertising you can target people based on interests and Pages they’ve liked, for example.
  • You can be flexible with your budget, setting a fixed amount to ensure you don’t go over the amount you want to spend.


There are of course two sides to every story, and so the drawbacks of PPC include:

  • The cost-per-click can be expensive – particularly relevant when it comes to Google ads, as keywords can cost hundreds of pounds.
  • Abuse – competitors could potentially click on ads and cost you a lot of money. However, search engines have developed ways to recognise and prevent this.
  • Time. Running an effective PPC campaign requires knowledge and skill in order to get a return on your investment, and clicks don’t necessarily guarantee a conversion. You’ll need to test and learn to get the most out of PPC.

How much will it cost you?

For search engine PPC, each keyword has a different cost based on popularity, as well as other factors (more on this in a sec). Because you pay by the click, how enticing your ad is and how expensive the keyword is will result in the total cost. It’s up to you to create a landing page that converts these clicks into a sale or lead, and makes the most of the money you’ve spent.

Search engine PPC keywords can be just a few pence per click, but they can also run into the hundreds of pounds per click. Traditionally one of the most expensive keywords is ‘mesothelioma lawyer’. Mesothelioma is a type of cancer caused primarily by faulty asbestos, and lawsuits have a precedent for resulting in wins of several million pounds for the prosecutor. So even if each click is £300, the specific nature of the search and the precedent for a lucrative outcome mean that the company putting this money upfront could see a return of millions, even if the advert is clicked many times without resulting in a conversion. So sometimes investing money can have a positive return.


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