By Brandon Jarman

It’s never been easier to start a business. Technology enables entrepreneurs to research business opportunities, build relationships with suppliers and distributors, network with fellow industry professionals, and learn new skills. Most importantly, it allows small businesses to reach and influence potential customers.

While it’s easy to start a business, it’s extremely difficult to make one profitable. The digital marketplace has made competition among small businesses extremely fierce, and it’s hard for entrepreneurs to decide what marketing channel(s) they should focus on. Between numerous social media platforms, technical search engine optimization, blogging, and various paid ad avenues, it’s easy for small organizations to become overwhelmed.

Although the above-mentioned marketing channels can be effective for any business, PPC (or pay-per-click) advertising is a fantastic starting point for entrepreneurs looking to jumpstart their businesses. However, if not optimized correctly, PPC marketing can negatively affect an organization.

To combat this, here are four things every startup entrepreneur show know about PPC marketing.

A Quick Overview of PPC

If you already understand the basics of PPC advertising, feel free to skip this section. If you don’t, it’s important that you understand the fundamentals of pay-per-click advertising before we delve into more complicated subject matter.

Portent defines PPC marketing as, “a model of advertising that allows marketers to pay only when their ad is clicked by an online user. Search engines like Google and Bing make pay-per-click advertising available on an auction basis.”

PPC is popular among businesses because it is extremely targeted (more on this later), and it helps your business appear on the first page of Google’s search engine results page (commonly referred to as SERPs). Depending on the keyword, ranking high organically on Google’s SERPs can take months or even years to accomplish. PPC gets your organization’s website front and center on Google— potentially resulting in high numbers of traffic and conversions.

The Anatomy of a PPC Ad

You’ve most likely seen a PPC ad at some point in your life. However, it’s important for entrepreneurs and digital marketers to know each portion of a pay-per-click ad so that they can optimize it with their customers in mind.

  1. Headline: The headline is the first thing potential customers will see. The keywords in your headline should be aligned with the topic of your landing page. This will create a better user experience for your customers and Google will give your ad a high Quality Score (more on this later).
  2. Description Line 1: This description line allows you to further promote your value proposition.
  3. Description Line 2: The second description line also gives you the opportunity to explain the value that your organization can give to a customer. It’s recommended that you include a call-to-action here.
  4. The Display URL: This is the URL your customers will see when viewing your ad. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same URL they are taken to after they click on it.
  5. The Final URL: The final URL is the URL that customers will be taken to after they click on your ad. The final URL is not shown in a PPC ad (unless it’s your display URL).

The Google Ads Platform

The Google Ads platform is where your business will manage and execute all of your paid search efforts. I could write an entire article about all of the amazing features that Google Ads offers, but in the interest of brevity, I’ll summarize what the Google Ads platform can do for you.

One of the most useful elements of Google Ads is the ability to conduct thorough keyword research. In short, the keyword research planner tool lets you see what your customers are searching for in Google. This allows you to target them with your PPC ad campaigns. However, the more competitive the keyword, the more expensive it will be to bid on them.

In order for your PPC advertisement to show up on Google’s SERPs, you’re required to bid against other competitors on those keywords. For example, let’s say that your startup business is a local flower shop. Through your research using the keyword planner tool, you’ve discovered that your target audience searches for “Unique flower shops in Illinois.”

You then decide that you want your business to appear on the search engine results page for this keyword. In order to do this, you have to bid on these keywords through the Google Ads platform. You decide that 22 cents is an appropriate cost for a click on your advertisement. However, if one of your competitors is willing to pay 25 cents for the same keyword, your PPC ad will most likely be lower on the list in the SERPs.

However, PPC ranking is more than just cost. Google gives preference to PPC ad practitioners who have a high Quality Score.

Wordstream does a great job of defining Quality Score: “Quality Score is Google’s rating of the quality and relevance of both your keywords and PPC ads. It is used to determine your cost per click (CPC) and multiplied by your maximum bid to determine your ad rank in the ad auction process.” The factors that impact your quality score include:

  • Landing page relevance
  • Landing page quality
  • The relevance of your ad copy
  • Your historical performance

Keyword match type and negative keywords also impact your Quality Score. However, those topics are a little more advanced. I would recommend conducting further research into these topics if you’re serious about running PPC ad campaigns.

Track Your Results

Ultimately, you won’t know if your pay-per-click campaigns are successful unless you measure your results. Some common key performance indicators that you should track are:

  • Click-Through Rates (CTR): This measures how many people are actually clicking on your ad. You can compute it by the number of individuals who have clicked on your ad by the number of people who have seen it.
  • Cost Per Conversion (CPC): This is your cost of obtaining a new customer.
  • Bounce Rate: Having a high bounce rate means your ad needs some work. Bounce rate is calculated by the number of people who visited your website but didn’t click on your call-to-action.

Fortunately for all of us, both Google Ads and Google Analytics provides marketers with data regarding the success of PPC campaigns. It’s recommended that you sync your Ads account with your Google Analytics account.

Pay-per-click advertising is a powerful tool your startup can leverage. Understanding how PPC works will give your business the competitive edge it needs to compete in today’s digital landscape.