Around the world, an estimated 85% of people have searched for products to buy online. For your small business to survive, a strong online presence and ranking highly on the search engine results pages (SERPs) should be an important part of your marketing strategy.

Digital marketing encompasses different methods, such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and email marketing. Another important method small business marketers should use is PPC marketing or pay-per-click online advertising.

Here's what you should know about this form of paid advertising and how you can use it to boost your brand's presence online and bring in more customers.

What Is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising?

PPC advertising is a form of paid promotion where companies pay a fee every time users click their ads. Display ads of this nature might appear on SERPs or social media feeds.

There is also a specialized form of PPC known as remarketing, which allows businesses to create ads tailored to target users who have visited their web properties before. They show these ads to customers when they visit sites opting to allow display ads on their page. For example, if someone visits your e-commerce website and views particular products but doesn't make a purchase, you can display retargeting ads to them to draw them back to your site.

For PPC, Google AdWords remains one of the most important advertising platforms, with Google Ads providing the most search advertising on the internet. We'll explore how paid search works and how you can use it to grow your business.

How Does PPC Advertising Work?

Paid search works largely as an ad auction. Depending on where you want your click advertising to appear, you can select one of a few different platforms, but they will work similarly.

Some of the major platforms you might select from include:

  • Google AdWords, which includes the Google Display Network on properties beyond
  • Facebook Ads
  • Bing Ads, now known as Microsoft Ads
  • LinkedIn Ads
  • Yahoo Ads

For each platform, you'll need to select the types of searches for which you want to have your ad appear. Depending on the type of PPC advertising model you select, you can select when your ads will be displayed in slightly different ways.

Search Engine Ads

For search engine ads, you will need to select the search queries you want to target. You can create a list of search terms for which you want to have your ad appear. You can also designate a list of excluded keywords to help you narrow down the searches. This limits your ad, so it only appears for the intended searches.

For example, if you sell umbrellas and want your ad to appear for people searching for umbrellas, you might also have an excluded keyword for "policy" or "insurance" to exclude people looking for umbrella insurance policies.

Social Media Ads

Social media ads work on more of a demographic basis. You can select criteria based on the audience you want to target. For example, you might target people in a particular age range, with particular interests listed, or those within a certain geographical area.


After you choose when you want your ad to appear, based on keywords or audience targets, you will place a bid. The platform will tell you about how expensive your selected criteria is based on their popularity and propose a bid for your ad campaign. You can refer to this as your cost per click (CPC). It details how much you are willing to pay for someone to click on your ad. Then, each time someone clicks on your ad, you will only be charged with the amount agreed.

The platforms use an automated system where the bids are weighed against each other, and the algorithms determine which one will be shown to a given person as they log into social media or make a search on a platform.

Your Quality Score

Google pays close attention to the quality of the ads displayed on its properties. It assigns your ads a quality score based on your expected clickthrough rate (CTR), the quality of your landing page, and the relevance of your ad copy and landing page to the targeted keyword.

Having a high-quality score can help increase your chances of getting your ad shown while maintaining a consistent ad spend. Therefore, you want to take steps, such as creating ad groups, to help you target particular keywords and create highly relevant landing pages and copy.

As you build your campaigns, you can monitor your campaign metrics and also log into your Google AdWords account to see your quality score. This will help you better understand the success of your campaigns.

Is PPC Advertising Effective for Small Businesses?

Click advertising can help drive traffic and potential customers to your business website, which then increases your opportunity to convert them into paying customers. With paid ads, you can target the keywords and demographics with the most relevance for your business, even if those same terms also create a very competitive SERP.

In other words, many businesses find themselves struggling to compete against larger, established businesses when it comes to ranking organically on the search engine results. Even though your business might not have a high-ranking website for many queries, a strong PPC campaign can help ensure your business still maintains a presence for these important categories.

Paid advertising can also help your marketing campaigns take a more targeted approach. As you build your website and go through optimization efforts to help your content rank organically, you also want to know which pages and terms will give you the best conversion rates. Small businesses often operate with limited budgets and resources dedicated to organic search; therefore, you want to make sure the pages and keywords you dedicate your time to provide you with the largest return on investment (ROI).

Creating a paid marketing campaign can help you test different pages and keywords to narrow down your choices. For example, you can create campaigns with a focus on particular relevant keywords and point them toward the targeted landing pages. You can then watch metrics, such as your bounce rate and conversion rate, to better understand the audiences and keywords used to give your business the largest lift. Your optimization strategy can then prioritize ranking these pages organically first.

Finally, running PPC campaigns can help your business whenever you have pages you want to rank high in a short amount of time. For example, if you have a weekend sale or promotion at your business, you want to draw attention to the sale page as soon as you launch it. PPC campaigns can make this possible.

How Can Small Businesses Use PPC Advertising?

For you to get the most from your PPC ads, carefully walk through the steps of setting up your ads. This will help you get the best possible results from your budget. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Choose your platform carefully. Know your goals for your campaign and the platform to help you achieve them. Business-to-business (B2B) brands wanting to build a following, for example, might select LinkedIn, while e-commerce stores with the goal of encouraging sales might focus on Google AdWords. Similarly, building brand awareness by attracting users to your Facebook page might also be best completed through Facebook Ads.
  • Carefully create ad groups and tailor your ad text and landing page. You don't want to make your groups too wide and risk having your ad appear less-than-relevant to people who see it. This will diminish your conversion rates and give you a low-quality score. Optimizing your page based on the target audience remains critical.
  • Use careful keyword research to determine the searchers you want to target. Remember, you want to make your selection based on the goals of your PPC strategy and your budget.
  • Consider the negative keywords you want to include (the keywords you don't want your search ads to appear for). Think about alternate uses you have seen for your keywords and exclude the combinations not relevant to your ad. It's helpful to run searches yourself to see the type of results returned.
  • Start your campaigns small. As you begin PPC marketing, starting with smaller campaigns allows you to test the proverbial waters and see how your ads perform.
  • Remember to use ad text which communicates clearly and creates an enticing click for those making the relevant search. Make sure you have a clear call to action (CTA) in your ad so users know what to do.
  • Consider using ad extensions to create even more enticing ads. For example, in Google AdWords, your phone number or your business reviews can be added to catch people's eyes and make you easy to contact.
  • Monitor your metrics throughout the campaign. You want to capitalize on well performing campaigns, adjust the poor performing ones, and identify points of weakness. For example, if you see your campaign invites clicks but not conversions from the landing page, you need to evaluate the relevance of your landing page.

Keep Your Small Business Finances In Check With Skynova

When it comes to running your business and setting up your marketing campaigns, keeping a close eye on your daily budget and your campaign remains essential. Knowing how much money you have to spend on your PPC campaigns can help you maximize your CPC and get the most out of your campaigns.

For small businesses, working with Skynova's accounting software designed for organizations like yours can help simplify the entire process. With the ability to tally your expenses, save receipts, and track your income seamlessly from the platform, accounting has never been easier.

Notice to the Reader

The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines for brand advertising and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with a professional accountant to ensure you're meeting accounting standards.