Pay As They Come: Pay per Click Marketing Drawing the online customer to a website is accomplished through search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising (PPC). SEO uses keywords in the content and Meta tags of a website along with the number of links associated with that site to determine the site’s ranking in search results. SEO is a long-term strategy that consistently delivers traffic from search engine appearance. PPC delivers quick results and is a powerful way to build on a site’s SEO ranking in search engine results. Together, SEO and PPC are the backbone of online marketing.
PPC, while still young, has evolved into two general modes: bid-based PPC primarily on search engine results pages and flat-rate PPC on related content websites. In either model, the customer clicking on an advertisement drives the cost. If no customer clicks on the advertisement, then no revenue is generated or collected. When a customer clicks on the advertisement, the host site charges a very small but predetermined amount. In general, this is good for both parties. The advertiser only pays for someone clicking through to his website, which is akin to paying for a newsprint ad only when a customer enters the store with the newspaper in hand. The host site receives revenue for the clientele already frequenting the site for the content.
Bid-based PPC is limited to search engines and based on search keywords. Advertisers bid the amount they will pay for being displayed as a “sponsored ad” for a given keyword. The bidding is entered and automated. The highest bidder gets the top placement on the results page for a keyword search. Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Microsoft adCenter all offer bid-based PPC advertisements. All three offer a way to enter a maximum bid and a maximum spending limit, usually on a per day basis. Smaller, but no less effective, specialized search engines also provide PPC to advertisers. The world of bid-based PPC advertising is dynamic, changing continuously as bids change and searches continue. The alternative, flat-rate PPC, is slightly less dynamic but a solid marketing tool.
Flat-rate PPC is predictable in that the cost per click-through is the same. A second primary difference from bid-based PPC is that flat-rate PPC advertisements appear on websites chosen for their suitable viewer demographics. The amount paid per click will depend on average view statistics for the website and the placement in the window on the site, often referred to as “above the fold” or “below the fold”. As with bid-based PPC, the advertiser can choose the maximum amount he is willing to spend on the campaign. Once that amount is reached, the ads will cease running. Flat-rate PPC is predictable if the demographic and the view statistics for the host site are accurate. In many respects, flat-rate PPC is a safe investment with a respectable ROI if done well.
Bid-based pay per click and flat-rate pay per click, along with SEO, are critical marketing tools. Coordinated marketing campaigns using these tools can deliver steady traffic to any website.