Pay-per-click goes by several different names, including acronyms like SEM, paid search, pay-per-click marketing, CPC or cost per click. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be referring to it as PPC, or pay per click marketing.

All of these names, refer to the practice of an ad being placed, and an advertiser being charged, on a per click basis, by the hosting search engine or site that then, takes the user to the desired location, like the advertiser’s site. Advertisers are able to use the self serve platform, to buy keywords, that relate to their products and services, in an attempt that when a user comes to google.com or bing.com, and types in a query, that is either close or exactly a match to the keyword, that their ad will display, causing an impression.

Impressions do not incur a charge through AdWords. It only costs the advertiser if the user clicks on the ad, causing the CPC or cost per click to occur, at a price that is determined both by AdWords and the advertiser. AdWords is an auction-based system, that calculates the price of a click, based on the industry, competition, quality score, and the maximum CPC or cost per click, set by the advertiser for that keyword, on a per query basis. This means that there is a lot going on, every time a person performs a search, as all advertisers that qualify for that auction are considered in fractions of a section, as to which will display ads, what versions of the ad and in what order or position, on the Google search as well as what they will pay should their ad be clicked upon.

At it’s base nature, PPC is pretty straight forward. Choose keywords, write ads, tell AdWords what the maximum is that, you’re willing to pay for that click on your ads, and off you go. However, it’s far more complicated than that when you start to drill down into which key words to bid on, what to write in an ad, and how to set up your AdWords account, to maximize the potential of those ads and keywords. And how you can use the performance matrix provided, to improve your performance overall, no matter what your goal may be. Google AdWords is not the only PPC platform in town. It’s just the biggest, as it has the most traffic. Other platforms include, Bing Ads, which show ads on the bing.com and yahoo.com sites, as well as independent display and content networks that show ads on sites that have partnered with them, for displaying ads.

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