An Introduction to Google PPC (Pay-Per-Click Advertising)



Pay-per-click (PPC) is a business model that charges advertisers a fee every time their ad on a search engine results page is clicked. Google PPC is centred around its dedicated PPC advertising platform, Google Ads.


Key Takeaways

  • Profiting from PPC marketing comes from selling the product or service being promoted by the ad.
  • Google Ads can generate nine types of PPC ads, which can be displayed in search results and other search-powered services.
  • While an advertiser can pay for an ad spot, Google ultimately determines which ad to run and in what order by taking six factors into consideration.

There are more daily searches on Google than people on Earth right now – 8.5 billion vs. 8.1 billion, respectively. The figure demonstrates the extent to which the Internet has impacted the lives of every single man, woman, and child on the planet.

The vast majority of clicks in search results are organic, meaning the results are naturally ranked through basic practices like keyword optimisation. It doesn’t cost a penny to rank on search engines, but the downside is that it produces results slowly. It’s still a viable approach to SEO but one you don’t want to rely on alone.

On the other hand, the rest come from paid search ads, namely pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. This entails paying for a more ensured place in Google search results despite changes in organic rankings. Here’s what PPC is and why PPC campaigns are still worth it despite generating less traffic.

What Does Google PPC Stand For?

Source: Adobe Stock

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a business model primarily utilised by online advertising platforms like Google Ads – more on this in a while. Advertisers pay a fee for every click on their shopping ads in search engine results pages. The returns come in the form of a sale, wherein a click leads to the purchase of goods or services. For example, if your PPC ad is charged $4 per click, but a click results in a $400 sale, you more than made back the ad campaign spend.

Google PPC centres around Google Ads (known as Google AdWords until its rebranding in 2018). It provides advertising opportunities to Google Search, Google Play Store, YouTube, and thousands of partner sites. With Google being the most popular search engine worldwide, this fact makes Google Ads the most widely employed PPC platform. In 2023, its global digital ad revenue accounted for 39% of the market.

What’s the Difference Between Google PPC and SEO?

The main difference between PPC work and SEO boils down to one term: “paid.” You can pay to rank in strategic locations in search results in PPC, but you can’t do that in SEO. While you pay for an SEO professional, that’s only for managing your SEO needs.

Below are other distinctions worth noting.



  • More granular targeting
  • Paid traffic doesn’t last long
  • Content mainly promotional
  • Produces results quickly
  • Stays if compliant with rules
  • Shows up on various services
  • Accurate targeting
  • Organic traffic stays longer
  • Improves authority and trust
  • Results take time to manifest
  • At the mercy of algorithm updates
  • Limited to search

It’s worth noting that PPC and SEO are designed to work together, not compete with each other. Their advantages cover each other’s disadvantages like SEO’s cost-effectiveness reducing the need for expensive PPC content. Harnessing both also expands a brand’s visibility in search results.

What Kind of Ads Does Google Ads Support?

The online advertising platform supports different types of PPC ads.

  • Search: Default text ads
  • Display: Google search ads with images
  • Video: Search ads with videos (YouTube video ads only)
  • Shopping: Product listings on search results
  • App: Ads that link apps to their Play Store entries
  • Local: Ads for search terms with local intent
  • Demand Gen: Enhanced Discovery-type ad
  • Smart: Semi-automated advertising
  • Performance Max: Fully automated advertising

Notice that Discovery isn’t on the list. That’s because Google has commenced upgrading all Discovery ads into Demand Gen as early as January and is expected to finish this March.

Source: Google Ads Help

You don’t have to create an ad for every type. After all, running an App-type PPC ad doesn’t make sense if you aren’t promoting an app in the first place. If you’re having trouble picking one, asking PPC marketing professionals or search engine marketing specialists for help won’t hurt.

Winning the Keyword Auction

In PPC advertising, you’re more assured of a spot for your ad campaigns in search results and other search-powered services. However, it isn’t as simple as picking specific keywords and running your Google Ads PPC campaign on it. You have to outbid everyone else thinking of the same idea.

Deciding which ad to run for each keyword comes down to what Google calls a “lightning-fast ad auction.” Unlike the auctions you’re familiar with, these auctions occur during user searches or site visits that display responsive search ads. In other words, every less than a second.

Google uses a six-point checklist to determine the ads to appear and their display order.

  • Maximum Bid Price: The highest amount an advertiser is willing to pay per click marketing
  • Ad Quality Score: The estimated overall score of your ad based on the quality of the ad copy, selected keyword, and landing page
  • Ad Assets: The presence and quality of certain details, such as contact information and links to other relevant landing pages
  • Ad Rank Threshold: The minimum cost per click required to display the ad
  • Ad Content Context: How the ad matches the target audience’s intent and behaviour
  • Auction Competitiveness: How many advertisers are neck to neck in ad ranking

Note that these definitions are shorthand. Each of these factors is complicated enough to warrant its own article, especially the Quality Score and Ad Rank Threshold. However, the most important thing to remember is that unique ad content targeting relevant keywords has more favourable odds in the auction.

The Significance of PPC Marketing

Source: Adobe Stock

As much as people prefer organic content over one that’s overly promotional, it’s hard to discount the potential of PPC marketing. Advertising lets consumers know about limited-time promos and new product rollouts, but more importantly, it gives them options when necessary. Given these, life won’t be easy without advertising, let alone Google PPC ads.

For business owners, PPC is a core component of their business goals. PPC platforms enable real-time performance monitoring and conversion tracking, providing essential data about metrics like return on investment (ROI) and customer acquisition cost (CAC). Other digital marketing methods have real-time tracking, but calculating ROI or CAC isn’t as easy.

With such data, business owners can better evaluate the effectiveness of their campaigns and design future ones around them. The data can also be used for other online marketing methods, namely SEO.

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