Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

Have you ever noticed these results at the top of your result list from Google? The results with “Ad” in front of the URL in the second row? That is Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising. 

I searched “Laptop” and the result in the photo above was what first came up in my search results. Microsoft used Google AdWords so that link would come up first in my search, and if I were to have clicked on that link they would have paid Google for that click. 

PPC Advertising is a form of online advertising where marketers pay when their ads are clicked by an online user. Typically, this is done through Google AdWords or Bing Ads. Using PPC advertising you can reach users who are actively seeking content that you offer. 

As a company, you can purchase a set of keywords then when users search those keywords and click on your ad you pay for that click. 

How is it different from SEO? 

With SEO (Search Engine Optimization) you are adjusting your own website in order to organically appear higher in search results, but with PPC Ads you are using Google AdWords or Bing Ads to actually pay for the result to appear higher and for someone to click on the link. SEO also takes time and patience, with PPC you can get started right away. 

The best part? Since users are usually looking for something specific the conversion rates from clicks are typically higher than in other forms of digital marketing. 

Picking Keywords

In order to be successful with PPC Advertising, you must pick the right keywords to bid on. 

To find the right keywords you can start with this:

Your Website – Use the core words from your website that describe your business 

Brand Terms – Bid on your branded keywords! Other companies can also bid on your brand’s specific keywords, such as your company name.

Think like your user – Put yourself in your user’s shoes and think about how they would search for something on Google, what words would they use?

Google vs. Bing

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is Google’s advertising platform that gives marketers the ability to bid for keywords to show up in search results. 

Google AdWords works on a bidding system. Your position in the search result is dependent on how relevant your Ad is to the searcher, your landing page, how much you are willing to pay, and your expected click-through rate. 

Using Google AdWords, you can Advertise in four different ways: 

Display – You know those lovely Ads on the top and right of your screen? These Ads will appear there.

Video– Have your Ad play at the start of a YouTube video

Search– This is the PPC Ad model we have been discussing

App Ads– These are Ads that will appear across other Google apps

Bing Ads

Bing Ads, like Google AdWords, allows you to share Ads in search results on Bing, MSN, Yahoo, AOL, and other Bing sites. Bing Ads also runs on a bidding system

Bing Ads tends to have an older demographic and a wealthier demographic than Google. In addition, Bing also reaches 66 million searchers that are not on Google.

How do you decide?

Since Google AdWords and Bing Ads seem so similar it can be tough to decide which is right for you. 

Market Share

Worldwide – Google has 72.37% of the market, while Bing has 7.70%

US – As of July of 2018, Bing has 24.2% of the US search market and Google has 63.2%


Bing’s audience spends 32% more online than the average internet searcher, 71% of searchers are 35 and older, 60% of searchers have attended college, and 55% of searchers earn 75K or more a year. Bing also has 66 million searchers that are not on Google.

Google’s audience tends to be younger, but with the sheer amount of data they have you are able to reach a larger audience with more specific filters.


Both PPC platforms are free to open accounts. 

For the cost per click, Bing Ads has an average of $7.99 and Adwords has an average of $20.08.

And finally…

Test! If your budget allows, throw some money at both and see which performs better. 

PPC Strategy – Awareness and Applications for WWU MBA

If I were in charge of PPC advertising for the WWU MBA Program I would do a few things when planning my PPC strategy: 

User Research – My first step would be to better understand the target market. I would want to know who they are, their goals, content they search for, why they choose the program, et al. 

Keyword Research –This would involve me gathering a list of keywords from our website, keywords our users search with, and industry keywords. 

Ensure a good user experience – Before setting up my account I would make sure that the user’s experience going from search to my landing pages is easy and not overwhelming.

TESTING – If you can’t tell, I love testing and am a huge advocate for it. In my strategy, I would be sure to set up different A/B tests to find out what performs the best.

Increasing Brand Awareness 

If I wanted to increase the brand awareness of the WWU I would bid on keywords such as Washington MBA, UW MBA, Best MBA, WWU MBA, MBA Program, and so on. 

I would use both Bing Ads and Google Ads. Since Bing’s demographics tend to align more with those that may be looking to get an MBA it would be smart to be where those users search, but Google’s breadth of users would be best to have a further reach.

Increasing Applications

Now if my goal was to increase applications I would adjust my strategy slightly. I would bid on keywords like MBA application, WWU MBA, WWU MBA Application, et al. 

I would also employ remarketing. Remarketing is a way advertisers can connect with previous site visitors. Through this, I can target the users who have already visited the MBA website and even the MBA application page. 

The Future of PPC 

AI and Machine Learning is a hot topic across many industries, and PPC Advertising is no exception. Using AI we can take out the guesswork and learn to better predict and bid on keywords in a PPC strategy. 

The Impact of Machine Learning on PPC: 

10% decrease in cost per click

18% decrease in cost per acquisition 

8% increase in clicks 

22% increase in conversions

Using companies such as TrapicaAcquisio, and you can implement machine learning into your PPC strategy and be even more successful.

At the end of the day, PPC is useful in a digital strategy, but it is not something that can be done in isolation. Your digital strategy should include both paid and organic efforts in order to be successful.