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What is PPC? A Guide For Small Businesses

In 2023, marketing your business effectively online is absolutely essential if you want to thrive. Digital marketing is becoming a necessity for all small business owners, from social media marketing, right through to SEO

A powerful digital marketing channel, usually one of the last to be explored, but one that should be considered is Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising.

In this post, we’ll break down exactly what PPC is and how it can benefit small business owners and drive real results.

What is PPC?

You’re probably thinking, what is PPC and what does PPC stand for? PPC stands for Pay Per Click and is a digital marketing method used to advertise websites, services and products online.

The name refers to how PPC works and how the advertisers are charged - you pay per click. Unlike other advertising methods where you pay a fee regardless of performance, with PPC, you only pay for the actions or clicks that it returns. Sounds great, right?!

The most well-known and frequently used platform for this type of advertising is Google Ads, reaching millions of people each and every day. With Google Ads, ads can appear on the world’s largest search engine, and gain massive exposure almost instantly.

Other platforms that adopt this pay-per-click model include Microsoft Ads (which used to be known as Bing Ads) and social media advertising (Meta Ads, formally Facebook Ads).

What is PPC Management?

PPC management is a service provided by many digital marketing agencies or marketing professionals. To put simply, PPC management covers the process of maintaining, overseeing and optimising a business’s PPC campaigns on its behalf with the goal of achieving the best possible results for an allocated budget.

Usually, PPC managers take the account from the ground up, following best practices and using experience to build campaigns from scratch. Some of the tasks included in PPC management may include keyword research, bid management, performance optimisation, and ad creation.

Because of the more technical and time-consuming nature of PPC, it’s often recommended to be handled by PPC management agencies to ensure campaigns are running effectively and efficiently, gaining the best possible return on investment.

With a platform such as Google Ads, it’s very easy to burn through budget if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s why it’s recommended to seriously consider PPC management if you’re not comfortable with the platform.

PPC management doesn’t have to cost a lot either. For peace of mind that your campaigns are running smoothly and not wasting valuable budget, it’s definitely worth considering. Find out more about the cost of PPC management.

How Does PPC Work?

Focusing on the most popular platform, Google Ads, the majority of PPC campaigns work on an auction basis, where advertisers bid on relevant keywords and phrases they wish their ads to appear for.

 When a user searches on a search engine, Google for example, behind the scenes, an auction takes place to decide which ad is shown. 

There are a number of different ways Google chooses which result to display. Along with bids and budgets, ad rank and quality score play an important role in deciding. This can be influenced by a number of controllable factors. For example, relevance and landing page experience.

So once the user has been presented with a list of results, displayed above organic results, they’d click one of them and be directed to the advertiser's website. The advertiser then would pay a specified amount for that click, no matter if they went on to convert or not. 

For example, if you own a small boutique hotel and you’re bidding on the phrase “hotel in Manchester”. When someone searches for “luxury hotel in Manchester” your ad may appear among the results. If a user clicks on that ad, they’ll be directed to your website and you’ll pay a small fee, the amount of which depends on the auction.

It’s important to note that not all PPC campaigns work exactly like this, there are a variety of campaign types available to advertisers, for example, performance max, remarketing and display campaigns which aren’t keyword targetted. The process outlined above describes the most popular campaign type, search.

How Effective is PPC?

If done correctly, PPC can be massively effective for small businesses and it’s a great way to reach new and existing customers and drive more traffic quickly.

And as you’re choosing the targeting criteria (keywords) you can be sure you’re serving ads to relevant audiences. Just remember to ensure you’re using the right match type!

We’ve written a whole big post about just how effective PPC is, and you can find it right here: How Effective Is PPC Advertising?


It’s clear to see that PPC presents a fantastic opportunity to increase the traffic to your website, really boost your online presence and drive real results.

If you’re thinking about getting PPC up and running, it is, however, important to understand the ins and outs of your PPC platform of choice. Not to scare you, but one wrong move and a whole budget could be easily wasted.

So if you’re looking for some peace of mind, maybe considering a PPC management agency may be the best way to start things off.

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