A Glossary of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Buzzwords

“Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have for something they don’t need.” – Will Rogers


Utilising a Google (or Bing) pay-per-click (PPC) campaign can help you achieve the goals of your marketing strategy by reaching your ideal customers so use our PPC Glossary to help your understanding of the subject.

In summary, pay-per-click advertising or PPC is a way of showing potential customers Adverts for your Products & Services at the very moment they are searching for them.

On the more technical side, PPC is a live & ongoing auction where Digital Marketers will calculate and set ‘Bids’ on certain ‘Keywords’ to show ‘Ads’ to potential customers searching for their clients’ Products & Services.

PPC is: Accurate, because it targets potential customers by matching their ‘Search Terms’ with your targeted ‘Keywords’; Measurable, because PPC platforms provide data on how many people saw and clicked on your advert; and is Flexible, because it can be updated and changed when needed.

Keyword / Keyphrase:

Within a PPC campaign, you would normally find keywords and keyphrases which are relevant to your Product & Services, when a keyword is triggered an advert is shown e.g if you sold Sports Socks, then the Keyword “Buy Sports Socks” would be used to target searches where these keywords are included. This is where the accuracy of PPC comes from mainly. So, the keywords should be based on the search terms a potential customer would type into Google, and as such, are not always the words that you would assume are used. Try using Google’s Keyword Tool to build up your list.

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Search Terms:

When a user types any text into a search engine, this text is known as the Search Term. If an advertiser is targeting a keyword which is included in the search term, it is likely that their advert will show on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for that Search Term.

AdGroup:

Often, once you have a large list of keywords, it helps to split this list into groups of ‘similar’ phrases. This is important as it then allows you to change your adverts to closely reflect the needs of the person searching.  For instance, the Yorkshire Powerhouse PPC campaign has nearly 100 AdGroups; they range from ‘start up’ terms to ‘accountants’, ‘digital marketing’ to ‘growth strategies’, etc.

Bid:

This is simply the amount you are willing to pay ‘per click’ and, obviously, the more you bid, the higher up the page your advert will be shown.

Cost per click – CPC:

This is the actual amount you are charged for your click. All other things equal, you will only pay 1p more than the bid of the Advert shown one place below yours. For example, you could bid £1 and pay 81p because the bid of the next highest ranking advert was 80p, and they would only pay 61p if the bid of the next highest ranking advert below them was 60p and so on…

Campaign budget:

You can control the spending on your campaign to a fixed daily / monthly figure. Google will manage the spend to make sure that the overall budget is never breached but allows a small degree of limited tolerance ‘during’ a campaign.

Bid adjustments:

On a more complicated PPC campaign, and normally once you have some statistics to review, you can instruct Google to adjust your specific bids based on: Device used, Location searched from, time of day searched at and some more advanced options too. In some situations it might be appropriate to increase the bid for people using a desktop computer by 30% and to reduce the bid for people using their phone by 70% or reduce the bid for people searching at 1am – 6am if data shows they are less likely to convert at those times.

Ad text:

These are the specific words that are shown on the search results page to form your advert. Clearly, the more relevant your advert text the more likely they will click your ad. Google actually encourages you to set up a minimum of 3 adverts per adgroup and then Google will try to closely match the best ad to the search as Google genuinely wants to help you get clicks (this is, after all, how Google makes its money). There are strict rules for the number of characters and the type of words you can use in your ad text … Google’s own advice on this subject is excellent and available here.

Ad Extensions:

Google allows you to create ad extensions which are essentially free additional elements that Google will show from time to time to help improve your campaign performance. Extensions can display phone numbers, location or sales messages, they can display links to specific pages within your site or customer reviews. Google is generally looking to display these extensions when it thinks it will improve your chances of a click or when you are highly ranked or paying enough to be highly listed. More information can be found here:

Match Type:

This is one of the primary reasons for a PPC campaign to perform badly or inefficiently.  Match types explain the ‘rules’ that you provide to Google so it can decide when to display your advert based on the keywords you’ve listed.

For instance, the keyword ‘sports socks’ can be set up as an ‘exact match’ so that it only triggers the ad to show when it is searched for specifically in that order and with no other words.

Alternatively, it can be set as a ‘phrase match’, and then you are telling Google to display your ad when this keyword (and close variants) is included in this order anywhere in someone’s search term, eg. ‘pink sports socks for footballers’.

Finally, the ‘broad match’ type means that you are essentially handing control to Google to decide whether it should show your ad or not … so a search for ‘cycling socks’ is still likely to show because Google ‘knows’ that cycling is a sport.

Clearly, the more specific you can be, the more ‘exact’ or ‘phrase’ match types you can use. There are a few more match types that are ‘variations on a theme’ … find Google’s own explanations here: https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2497836?hl=en-GB

Impressions:

Impressions are counted every time your advert has been shown. In other words, how many times your ad rank was high enough to trigger your adverts to show when a search term has included your targeted keywords based on their match type settings.

Clicks / Interactions:

Simply, the number of times your PPC advert has been clicked on following an impression. With the correct keywords and targeting, the more clicks the better.

Click Through Rate – CTR:

This is a simple ratio of the number of times your advert has been shown (impressions) versus the number of clicks you’ve achieved. It can be a good gauge of how searchers are reacting to your advert. A low CTR can mean that other adverts or organic results look better than your advert. Whilst you can optimise for CTR and achieve higher quality scores, make sure you also keep in mind the effectiveness of the advert in the bigger picture e.g if your product is not cheap, don’t add ‘cheap’ to your ad text to get a higher CTR because this deception will just alienate visitors.

Negative keywords:

Quite simply the opposite of keywords. So, using the ‘sports socks’ example from above, if you don’t sell socks for horse riding, you would set ‘horse riding’ as a negative keyword to prevent your adverts showing for search terms such as: ‘sports socks for horse riding’.

Landing page \ URL destination:

This is the place people are sent to once they click on your ad. Therefore, you have control of this element and the more relevant your landing page is to the search term, keyword and ad text of a search, the higher your quality score.

Ad Rank:

When a search term is entered into Google an auction happens in the background to decide which adverts will show where on the page when it loads. Adverts with a higher Ad Rank will be awarded a higher position.

Ad Rank is calculated mainly from the Quality Score of your Keyword for the advert that is to be shown and the Bid for that Keyword. So, the better your quality score and higher your rank, the higher your position on the SERP.

Quality Score:

As mentioned above, Quality Score is one of the main components that goes into calculating Ad rank, alongside your Bid and some other minor components. The main thing to concentrate on when trying to improve Quality Score is better aligning your Keyword, Ad text and Landing Page to the goal of the searcher behind the search term. As Google wants the best experience for their users so they continue to search with them and they, in turn, continue to make money from clicks! We’ve written an article on understanding Quality Score here.

Conversion tracking:

A Conversion occurs when a potential customer ‘converts’ from being a potential customer into a customer by completing a business goal set by the advertisers. These business goals are also known as conversion actions.

Conversion tracking is using tracking code or manual offline methods to measure the amount of conversion actions completed, mainly from a website but sometimes from other sources and even offline sources too.

Conversions actions can be anything worth any value to the business, from newsletter signups or phone calls to purchases of a product on an eCommerce store.

Few ‘normal’ business owners want to understand all the elements of setting up and managing a PPC campaign … they are genuinely complicated and technical. To avoid a poorly performing campaign, seek out a good, technical expert who holds Google qualifications and can demonstrate a genuine track record of performance.

Blunt thinking and a PPC Glossary from Yorkshire Powerhouse
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