A Beginner's Guide to Pay-Per-Click Advertising

By Vicky Heelis,

After completing my first 3 months in the Pay-Per-Click (PPC) world here at Aquamarine, I have created a short and simple guide for beginners to understand each aspect of the process focussing on Google Adwords and Bing Ads.

PPC is a very popular form of online advertising that uses the search engine to trigger advertising campaigns. Both Bing and Google make PPC advertisement available on an auction basis, where the highest bidder will typically gain the most prominent placement on the search page. Advertisers are only charged when their ad has been clicked on, and whether your advertisement initially appears will be down to how effective the keywords used are.

Starting the initial account structure can be a daunting task! How you structure your account can affect aspects such as quality score and overall organisation when beginning the optimising process. Understanding the different aspects of an account structure will help you find your feet early in the development. Below is a brief overview of the main features you will benefit from understanding early on in your PPC career:


This is a way of categorising your AdWords account, whether you are aiming to target different geographical locations or different services/products. At campaign level you will set your daily budget. If your monthly budget is £300 you will divide this by 30 (number of days in the month) for the figure you set within your account.

You are then given the option as to where to spend this budget, whether you want to create a shared budget across the campaigns or create separate budgets for each individual campaign. Think of this as the broadest building block available.

Ad Groups

Sitting within each campaign you will have granular segments that categorise the campaign, and each of these segments, referred to as Ad Groups, will share a set of keywords. The maximum number of keywords per Ad Group can vary depending on the target/service - the only rule is that all the key words must be relevant to the Advert.

At Ad Group level you can set your Cost-Per-Click (CPC) bids. This is the amount you are willing to pay per click. When optimising, you will use your clients Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). This can be Return on Investment (ROI) or Cost-per-Acquisition (CPA) targets that are used as a guideline for deciding when to increase or decrease the CPC.


Keywords are a vital part of running a successful campaign. These are the search terms you have set to trigger your advertisement for your audience and ultimately receive relevant and valuable traffic. Keyword Planner is an incredibly useful tool as it allows you to research keywords that are relevant and related to your campaigns.

During the running of your campaign, you will carry out search query research and create a list of negative keywords to optimise your account further. Negative keywords are the search terms you don’t want to generate your ad. You can check out a previous blog about negative keywords here.

Match Type

Keyword match types is a way of controlling which searches on Google and Bing will trigger your advert. Below are examples of the most common match types:

Client example: Wine Company (of course!)

Keywork term – Vegan wine shop

Exact – [vegan wine shop] – Exact keyword match type would mean your ad would only be triggered when searchers looked for the exact keyword of an exceptionally close variant such as vegan wine shops.

Phrase – [vegan wine shop] – Phrase match keywords will only trigger your ad when searchers type the specific phrase, though they will allow additional words entered before and after the phrase, such as vegan wine shop near me.

Broad – [vegan wine shop] – Broad match will allow Google or Bing to use your keywords as more of a guideline. Broad match is a good tool when expanding your ad’s reach, but it needs to be closely managed. Your ads will be triggered to anything that the search engine believes is relevant such as cheap wine shops, vegan wine shop sales, wine case shops. If not properly monitored, using broad match means that your ads will be shown for irrelevant terms.

Quality Score

Quality Score is a measurement of relevance of your keywords and ads, rated from 1 - 10. If your chosen keywords are relevant to both your ad and your landing page, this will generate a higher Quality Score that will increase your advert’s performance within the auction. Google’s and Bing’s algorithms take quality score very seriously to ensure advertising standards remain high.

Ad Copy

Ad copy is the text of the advertisement that is visible on the search engine and is built up of three parts: the headline 1, headline 2 and description. After targeting relevant traffic with your chosen keywords, this is your chance to catch the attention of your audience and get them to click on your ad.

Each Ad Group will have a final URL which is the chosen landing page. This will also vary depending on the Ad Group they are paired to. For example; if your client has a clothing company, for traffic searching for “Trousers” you will make their journey faster and easier by landing them straight on the trouser page rather than the home or men’s page.

How well a PPC account performs relies solely on how well you have planned each aspect and in what way you have optimised throughout. If aspects of the account are set up incorrectly, this could cost a lot of money with little to show for it at the end.

If you’d like some more help setting your PPC campaigns up, get in touch with us today for a free PPC account audit.

Good luck!