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PPC or Pay-Per-Click; You Only Pay When A Visitor Clicks!

Image of Mouse Being Clicked

PPC or Pay-Per-Click is essentially an auction in which an advertiser (you) selects specific keywords or phrases and then creates a listing that will show up when someone searches for that phrase. The advertiser selects an amount they are willing to pay for each click on their listing- thus the term “pay-per-click”.   The advertiser pays for the click regardless of whether or not that click results in a sale or prospecting action.  At Overture, you can bid anywhere from $.10 up to $50.00 for each click.  At Google, you can pay from $.05 to $100. 

Dollar Bill

If other advertisers have selected the same keyword or phrase as yours, you then are competing against them for the highest position. Whomever is willing to spend the most is positioned first and the others follow in order.  

There are 2 major Pay-Per-Click programs, and one minor PPC player used today.  Google has AdWords, Yahoo! Overture has Sponsored Search, and the third engine is FindWhat - also known as MIVA.  Yahoo! Overture PPC was previously called Precision Match.  Content Match is a variation of Sponsored Search in which results are highly targeted for content relevant pages or services.  (Content Match is beyond the scope of this web page).

Before reading further, you may wish to review the SEO, PPC, and SEM terms in our Glossary.

Pay-Per-Click can be managed on either a national/global basis, or on a local basis.  Google AdWords and Yahoo! Sponsored Search are examples of global PPC programs.  Although global, the search engine may only have a presence in highly industrialized countries and in popular languages. 

When Pay-per-Click is managed for searches on a local level, the programs are called Local Search.  Both Google and Yahoo! Overture have Local Search offerings, and MSN is supposedly developing a product.  These offerings are explained in the Glossary and on the Local Search page.

Screen Capture Google Search Results

In the Google Search Results page at the left, we see the PPC results are listed at the right.  There are 4 paid ads.  This is a good situation for 5th bidder, because he could be displayed on the top page in 5th position at the least cost ad - probably at $.10. 

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Google Search Results for "millwork Illinois"


Screen Capture Yahoo! Search Results

Likewise, in the Yahoo Search Engine page at left, the PPC results are listed at the very top light-blue area before the Natural Listings.  This is a very good situation for 3rd bidder, because he could be displayed on the top page in 3rd position at an ad cost of just $.10. 

Enlarge Screen Capture

Yahoo! Search Results for "millwork Illinois"


In summary, Pay-Per-Click . . .

  • Is a regular, recurring expense.  Traffic stops when you stop paying

  • Can get you very fast traffic  - in as little as an hour after setup

  • Is a good solution for exposure on competitive search terms when you can't get a top ranking

  • Is good solution for "problem" sites that use Flash or dynamic content

  • Is great for testing new product ideas or the effectiveness of ads quickly

  • Is Best when the goal is to target a large number of low-bid-cost (niche) keywords

  • Is a perfect interim measure until your Natural SEO results show up in the search engines

  • Is excellent for seasonal sales or other time-dependent promotions

  • Is easy to measure and track performance and effectiveness

  • Is time consuming to monitor in-house

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