PPC advertising is one of many digital marketing strategies that today’s B2B brands leverage to discover new business, boost their web presence, and target high-intent customers. Mastering the basics of pay-per-click advertising (PPC, for short) is the first step to achieving all of the above outcomes.
To that end, let’s break down this key B2B advertising tactic in detail to help businesses develop high-impact digital marketing strategies.
PPC for Newcomers
Let’s start with the basics: what is PPC advertising?
Pay-per-click advertising is a type of paid search engine marketing (SEM)—a paid ad format that businesses can use to target search engine users (AKA potential customers).
If you were one of Google’s 274 million visitors in 2023, you’ve likely seen a PPC ad. PPC ads are typically the first four entries at the top of the search engine results page. When businesses purchase PPC ad space, this is the exact benefit they’re paying for—the coveted top positions in search engine results.
Why are businesses motivated to purchase these top spots? Because in many cases:
- A search engine user enters a keyword into a search engine.
- They click on one of the top results.
- They explore the landing page linked to one of these top results, become familiar with the brand, and maybe even make a purchase.
Simply put, PPC ads are a straightforward way to attract search engine users with a high purchase intent (they’re searching for keywords related to your product, after all) to your website, product listing, or another digital asset.
PPC vs SEM vs SEO
Let’s compare PPC to some other types of digital marketing you’ve likely heard of—starting with search engine marketing, or SEM.
When businesses use SEM tactics, they’re typically trying to:
- Position their content at (or near) the top of the SERP
- Encourage search engine users to click on their content
- Increase brand awareness and reach potential customers with high purchase intent
And since it leverages search engine functions, PPC is a type of SEM. In fact, it’s one of two main types of search engine marketing that brands can use to draw users’ attention to their brand in the SERP. The second is search engine optimization, or SEO.
PPC and SEO are two sides of the SEM coin—but how do they compare?
- PPC is paid, while SEO is organic – PPC users pay for the top spots in the SERP while SEO strategists use other strategies (like keyword integration, backlinks, and topical relevance) to rank.
- PPC can be instantaneous, but SEO takes time – While you can publish an ad for a specific keyword relatively quickly, it takes time for organic, optimized content to reach the top of the SERP.
- Both SEO and PPC are marketing investments – PPC users pay to place ads; but just because SEO is organic doesn’t mean it’s free. To effectively leverage SEO, brands must be willing to invest time in creating and optimizing quality content, monitoring that content, and tweaking it as needed to improve (or maintain) that content’s rank over time.
So, PPC is distinct from SEO—but both fall under the SEM umbrella.
Unraveling Must-Know PPC Terms
While we’ve introduced some must-know terms already (SEM, SEO, and SERP), there are a few other important elements marketers need to understand as they tackle PPC:
- Keywords – Keywords are the actual words that users type into a search engine when they’re looking for answers. These can be short-tail keywords (anywhere from one or a few words) or long-tail keywords (multiple words or even complete sentences). When brands place a PPC ad, they must decide which keywords they want that ad to appear for.
- Bid – A bid is the price you’ll pay each time someone clicks on your PPC ad. Bid prices can vary widely based on the platform you’re advertising on and the competitiveness of your chosen keywords (i.e., how many other advertisers are trying to rank for the same keyword).
- Impression share – Your impression share is an assessment of how well your ad is doing—how many people are seeing or clicking on your ad.
Negative keywords – To prevent paying for your ad to appear for irrelevant searches, you’ll choose negative keywords. For instance, if you’re a kitchen tools company trying to rank for the keyword “pots and pans,” but you don’t sell products made from Teflon, you might choose “Teflon pots and pans” as a negative keyword.
PPC and B2B: Why Pay for Search Engine Ads?
So, why should B2B brands consider incorporating PPC into their digital marketing strategies?
- PPC meshes well with other marketing tactics. Whether they’re trying to draw new followers to their social media accounts or influence the organic rank of specific landing pages, PPC can help marketers complement other tactics and diversify their ad assets.
- PPC works instantly—in just a few clicks, businesses can post an ad and appear at the top of the SERP. While tactics like SEO can take time to produce results, PPC ads can generate impressions much more quickly.
- PPC is highly customizable. Brands can choose highly specific keywords, tweak their ads to attract specific audience segments, and even choose the times of day when they want their ads to appear. Since B2B businesses are often marketing to highly specific niches, PPC can help brands find and fill them.
How to Get Started with PPC
Setting up a PPC campaign is relatively straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step overview for publishing your first ads:
- Choose a platform – While some brands might choose to publish PPC ads on shopping platforms (like eBay or Amazon) or review platforms (like Yelp), search engines are typically the ad platform of choice for B2B brands.
- Choose keywords – Keyword choice can be straightforward, but in-depth market research and ad experimentation can help companies choose the best possible keyword candidates (and negative keywords).
- Write an ad – Different platforms have specific criteria that ads must meet—word and character counts, for instance. Tailor your ad to these specifications and test it before publication.
- Choose a landing page – Your PPC ad must direct users to a link. Whether you choose a landing page, one of your social media accounts, or a product listing, make sure that your ad links to a destination that’s compatible with your chosen keywords and search intent.
- Track and adjust your campaign – As you start racking up impressions and clicks, you can tweak your ad or your campaign as needed to keep drawing in high-intent visitors.
While this process is relatively simple, there can be a steep learning curve for brands experimenting with paid ads for the first time. For maximum efficiency, expert ad writing, and professional oversight, consider working with a PPC management company to optimize your results.
Unlock New B2B Conversions and Boost ROI with Semgeeks
PPC advertising is an excellent way for B2B brands to reach search engine users with high intent to buy. But learning the ropes of PPC can take time; if you’re looking to get your campaign off the ground and start generating results quickly, consider working with a PPC marketing agency like Semgeeks.
Here at Semgeeks, we don’t just specialize in PPC—we’re a full-service digital marketing agency with the user experience and consulting expertise B2B brands need to foster new connections with customers. If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for web design, marketing, digital asset-building, and more, we’re a perfect match.
When you’re looking to maximize ROI, you need a geek. Reach out to us for a strategy consultation and start growing your business today.
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