What is PPC and how does it work?

We have many small business owners approach us about PPC . Their website isn’t performing as well as they would like, or they need to increase their sales and they think that PPC is the answer. In this article, we’ll cover what is PPC and how it works.

We’re not PPC experts, but one of our co-founders was involved in managing a PPC campaign a few years ago; so we’re aware of some of the basics. We thought it might be useful to gather a few of our thoughts together, so that those of you who have considered investing in some PPC have a basic level of knowledge to start from.

Before we dive into this crash course, and before you think about starting to invest in some PPC, it really is worth having a quick review of your website. Something we’d be delighted to help with – and we don’t charge for it! If your website is rubbish and it’s not user-friendly, then you can end up throwing endless money at PPC campaigns and they’ll do nothing for you. This is because your lead will lose interest and leave your site when you’ve just managed to get them onto it.

So, groundwork is necessary before you begin. 

What is PPC and what does it actually stand for?

PPC stands for “Pay Per Click.” This means you pay for each advert clicked on.

One of the most popular and well-known platforms for this is Google. But don’t discount Bing! Bing can actually give an incredibly good return on investment (ROI), partially because there’s a little less competition on it.

Sometimes it’s worth looking at social media advertising too – the likes of Facebook could work quite well, especially if you have a product you want to promote directly to the public. 

There are a variety of metrics to be aware of when you’re putting a PPC campaign together. The most common one is how many clicks you get – but some of the others are also important…

PPC Metrics


More based on social media, this will tell you the number of people/users who have been exposed to your advert. 


The number of times your advert was displayed/seen. 

If your reach/impressions are low, then your targeting is probably too narrow or not done correctly.


How many times your advert has been clicked on. This will generally be the lowest stat of all of them, and this is what costs you the money.

If your reach/impressions are high, but clicks on the advert are low, there’s probably something wrong with your advert. Conversely, if you’re getting clicks but no conversions – then something’s wrong with your website. That’s why you must check it before you begin!

How much does it cost?

You can generally spend as much or as little as you want, though it’s well worth being aware that many agencies will have a minimum spend limit and a minimum contract period.

Like any new marketing effort, PPC campaigns need time to get themselves set up and settled. If you’ve decided to give it a go yourself, you should really allow at least six months for a trial before you write it off, or decide to invest more.

If you’re going to an agency, they usually charge a fee split into two:

  1. A management fee – this is what they’re charging for their time and expertise in setting up and managing your campaign for you
  2. Your advertising spend – this is on top of the admin fee and is how much you’re actually spending on the advert itself. Most agencies will have a minimum spend limit here – so it’s worth asking what this is at the point of enquiry

What different types of PPC are there?

There are a variety of advert types you can pay for. Most people know the ones that appear at the top of Google – these are usually search ads, but there are a few different options to choose from…

Search ads

As mentioned, this is the most common/well known. You’ll appear in search results for keywords in search engines such as Google. 

Display ads

This allows you to place a picture and a small amount of text on external sites. 

Remarketing ads

Using cookies, retarget people who’ve expressed an interest in you. You know those adverts about that shed or t-shirt you were looking to buy, that seem to follow you everywhere? That’s a retargeting ad – and these work quite well in conjunction with display adverts,

Google shopping 

Place your products in a carousel at the top of Google search results. If you’ve ever used Google for something you’re looking to buy (like a specific part for your car or something for the kitchen), you likely would have seen them.

Gmail sponsored ads

Appears like an email at the top of the user’s inbox.

Social media

This is advertising on the likes of Facebook, Instagram etc. We’ve got lots of blog articles on Facebook, if you’d like to read more. 

What should I be aware of?

PPC isn’t a magic wand. You’ll need to work alongside it to continue to grow organically, as PPC campaigns often reach a limit of how much they can do for you. You’ll probably notice a massive boom in leads/clicks – and potentially sales – when you first start your campaign, but this will even out over time. If you don’t continue to work on your organic leads, you’ll be back to where you started in a scarily short amount of time. 

And, to reiterate again, your website must be in a good position before you start. If your website is user-adverse, then you’ll lose all of those visitors you’ve worked hard (and paid!) to gain.

Continuing on your website front, it’s also a good idea to have some kind of analytics tracking as well. This can then show you which advertising avenues are working well for you, and which aren’t. Don’t forget this will mean you categorically need a cookie policy, if you don’t already have one!

Finally, consider adding an extra page to your site – one which your adverts link directly to, and is only accessible from that link. This, paired with some analytical tools, is a great way to be able to see how well your campaigns are working with you. As the page can only be viewed if an advert has been clicked!


So, to recap:

  • Check your website before you begin
  • Know how much you want to spend, and be prepared to run whatever campaign you go for, for at least six months
  • Get some analytical tools installed on your site, along with a cookie policy (if you don’t already have one)
  • Consider having a dedicated landing page for your adverts

Whilst we can’t help with running or managing your PPC campaign, we do know some people who can! So get in touch if you would like a recommendation.

We can also help with the website review you need to do before you begin – so drop us a line to use our free advice offer and get some feedback.