Pay per click (PPC) (also called Cost per click) is an Internet advertising model used to direct traffic to websites, where advertisers pay the publisher (typically a website owner) when the ad is clicked. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market.
PPC Explained In Depth
Pay per click (PPC or paid search) — PPC ads are display- (advertisers pay for fixed placements) or bid-based (advertisers outbid each other for placement) ads that appear on high ranking webpages or SERPs. Instead of PageRank, PPC metrics employ a quality score. As advertises pay for the placement, the ads are certain to appear instead of having to compete with other search results as in what happens with SEO. In bid-based PPC such as Google AdWords, however, advertising competition comes from other bidders targeting the same ad keywords.
The term Quality Score is used by Google for how they measure the value of bid-based ads. Quality Score takes into consideration the keyword you bid on, the ads displayed for that keyword, and the landing page the link directs users to. It is an evaluation of how valuable and relevant all of the above are in a query request through Google Search.
How is it different than PageRank? PageRank is an entirely separate, albeit related concept. PageRank is a measure of your website’s authority and significance which is dictated by the number and quality of the websites linking to it. Quality Score scores the relevance and usefulness of PPC keywords, ads, and landing pages. This leads us to realize that the difference between the two is that while they both measure the quality of a web page, Quality score focuses on landing pages and how good they are for the users who are following links to them. PageRank deals with strictly unpaid and organic search results and assesses the quality of the page on those levels.
What affects Quality Score?
- Past Click through Rate of Keywords (CTR): The past CTR performance of a keyword you bid on is used to calculate its Quality Score, given how the weight of user interaction usually indicates how relevant an ad is to a keyword. Click Through Rate is a metric that takes the total number of clicks on an ad and divides it by the total times it was shown. This shows how effective the ad is and how often people click on it after seeing it.
- Landing Page Quality: The design and usability of your landing page that is linked through the ad.
- Relevance of Keyword to Ad: Is your targeted keyword a perfect fit for your ad? Does the user find what they were expecting/looking for?
- Relevance of Keyword to Search: Just how relevant is your targeted keyword to a search phrase used in a query?
- Geographic Performance: Campaign success in targeted locations.
In addition to the above factors, search engines that have PPC campaigns have openly admitted to other factors at work that they would rather not divulge. Quality Scores are calculated every time a keyword you bid on is used in a search request.
SEO vs PPC
It is definitely in your best interest to engage in both SEO and PPC practices, but the real question is how much time and money do you invest into each? The main issue here is figuring out if it is in your best interest to market to a broader audience, or a more targeted and specific one.
SEO reaches broad audiences because what search users generally see is content and not sales pitches. You can receive visitors only passively interested in the information you offer in your website as well as people who are eager to purchase online. You are casting a large net that is perhaps less aggressive than PPC advertisements, but you are ultimately expanding your ability to be seen by a larger audience.
PPC will generally reach a more specific audience that is already inclined to engage in eCommerce business with you. The reason being that they decided to click your paid advertisement already, meaning they are already interested. The debate that often occurs about what is more important, SEO or PPC revolves around what search users respond to: SEO traffic responds to content while PPC traffic responds to ads. Keeping this bottom-line in mind, and depending on what you wish to achieve, you can invest more heavily on one over the other.