One potentially huge source of traffic is from the search engine, but to take advantage of it you need to be ranked highly in the search listings. One way to improve your ranking is by employing either PPC or SEO methods. In this lesson we introduce you to an overview of Pay-Per-Click (PPC).
Pay-per-click (or PPC for short) is when you purchase ads to display in the search engines when a user enters your target keywords. These ads usually appear at the top of the page, the right hand side of the page, or both, typically under the header 'Ads' or 'Sponsored Listings'.
Here we can see some paid ad listings in Google:
And some more in Bing:
Unlike traditional advertising, you don't pay only to put your ad there, but also when somebody clicks on the ad, hence the term pay-per-click; sounds straightforward, doesn't it?
Things do begin to get a bit curly once you start digging into things - with Google's AdWords, for instance, it's not simply a case of out-bidding your competition to reach the top of the paid search listings. Google is interested in making as much money as possible, and for them it's not always the highest paying ad that is the biggest earner - a lower paying ad that is more attractively written and gets more clicks is going to earn more for them, so they'll give this ad a more favorable position.
It's also not as easy as just banging up a one-page site and buying some clicks (anymore). The search engines realize that if their users are just being taken to rubbish pages when they click on the sponsored listings, they'll soon stop clicking on them, so the search engines are implementing quality measures for pay-per-click advertisers to ensure that they're offering a good experience for visitors.
That said, paid search listings can be a great way to get traffic to your site without the huge amount of work that goes into a SEO campaign. If you've got the money, it's also a great way to test a market before deciding if you want to devote your time and energy to it in the long run.
A word of warning here though: for a new PPC campaign you should expect to burn through, on average, about five hundred dollars before you start to break even and another five hundred before you start seeing significant profits.
Why is pay-per-click so expensive? It comes down to math: if you're paying 20c per click for a visitor and the product you're promoting earns $40 in commission, you need to make one sale for every 200 visitors you get in order to break even.
Make more sales than that and you'll be earning a profit. Fewer and you'll be losing money. It can take a while before you hit on a formula that allows you to make this ratio of sales to visitors.
If you're looking at the work ahead of you with a SEO site, be aware that being able to make money on pay per click is as much a science as search engine optimization. The only difference is that with search engine optimization your lessons are free. With pay-per-click the meter is running while you learn. Even seasoned PPC affiliates walk into a new campaign fully expecting to burn through at least a thousand dollars before they can see what's really happening and tweak their site so that it starts earning money.
For this reason we strongly recommend that new affiliates first try their hand at a SEO site - you will learn a lot of things with this site that are applicable to pay-per-click without the expense. Once you've created a few SEO sites you should be comfortable enough to try a PPC campaign.
Pay-per-click is a method of advertising where you bid on certain keywords and only pay when somebody clicks on your ad.