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PPC Marketing Strategy: A 211-Point
Guide To The PPC Food Pyramid

You may have come across the term PPC marketing before. Whether you’re an eCommerce brand trying to boost your online sales or you’re a enterprise SaaS company looking to generate more leads and demos for your sales team, PPC is a great way to increase awareness, demand, and leads.
Plus, if you really know what you’re doing with your PPC marketing, your campaigns will directly contribute to generating revenue.
But what exactly does PPC marketing entail?
Why should you choose PPC advertising over other digital marketing strategies? What are the benefits of PPC — of all the different digital marketing channels, what makes PPC so special?
And, considering PPC is a pay-to-play style of marketing, how do you maximize your returns?
This post will answer all these questions and give you a solid foundation to build your PPC strategy on. We’ll cover the “complete PPC food pyramid” to make sure you have everything in your paid advertising diet that you could possible need. Let’s get started.

What Is PPC Marketing

PPC stands for pay-per-click. So, in its simplest definition, PPC marketing is when advertisers pay each time a user clicks on their ad in the Google Search Network or Google Display Network.
As opposed to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is considered an “organic” digital marketing strategy, PPC is a “paid” strategy. In SEO, you don’t pay for the traffic you generated, because users click on the organic links that are ranking on the search engine results page (SERP) of Google.
In PPC, on the other hand, users click on the ads at the top and bottom of the SERP (you can see a screenshot of the difference below).

Paid ads have the green "Ad" icon next to them, while organic posts/pages don't.

Paid ads have the green “Ad” icon next to them, while organic posts/pages don’t. – image source

For these ads, advertisers are charged each time a user clicks. PPC managers bid on specific keywords that will trigger their ads to show based on their bid, quality score, and a number of other factors. These factors determine where your ad will show on the SERP. This means that with PPC, you can’t be wastefully generating click-baity traffic.
Why is that? Because when you’re paying for each click, you want to be making money off as many clicks as possible. The more empty traffic your PPC ads generate, the more money you throw on the pyre without generating new revenue.
So how do you maximize the right type of clicks and traffic in PPC and then maximize the conversion rate of that traffic to increase conversions/sales? Well, that’s what this post will teach you — so eat up ;).


Pros & Cons of PPC Marketing

So we’ve covered the basics of what exactly PPC is. Now, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of choosing this paid advertising strategy over an organic strategy such as SEO or content marketing.

PPC Marketing Pros

One of the biggest and most obvious pros of paid campaigns versus organic campaigns is the easy that paid campaigns can be easily tracked and measured.
It can sometimes be difficult to tell if an organic optimization and jump in ranking has lead to more reads and hopefully more conversions or sales. But with PPC, everything is measured. It’s just a matter of clicking to the right tab in AdWords or Google Analytics to see which change or variant caused which increase in conversions, and by how much.
PPC also is known for quicker results than organic strategies.

A general comparison of PPC and SEO growth patterns

A general comparison of PPC and SEO growth patterns – image source

This is because for SEO and content marketing, you need to wait for Google to scrape your page, rank it, and for traffic to gradually accumulate to increase its ranking. In PPC, you can immediately pay to show at the top of the page where the majority of user attention lies — hence, quicker results.
The third big “pro” for PPC marketing is that it offers retargeting campaigns. What is retargeting? It’s the ability to advertise directly to a user who has previously visited your site or clicked on one of your ads. This is an incredibly powerful marketing tactic, and has been seen to have a drastically higher conversion rate than normal campaigns.
The general outline of how retargeting works

The general outline of how retargeting works – image source

Retargeting, or remarketing in some circles, is more effective than ordinary PPC campaigns, because it specifically targets audiences that have already shown interest in your brand and/or intent to convert/buy.
Instead of advertising to a completely cold audience and relying on keywords to measure intent, you’re tapping into a proven qualified audience instead.
All of these PPC benefits allow you to maximize the ROI (return on investment) of your campaigns. When you’re in the paid advertising space, you can’t afford to burn money on traffic without generating revenue. This is where ROI-driven PPC strategies will truly shine.

PPC Marketing Cons

I’ve raved quite a bit so far about the benefits of PPC marketing.
But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its drawbacks. The most obvious can be found in the name itself:
You have to pay per click.
This can be a daunting issue for small, local businesses. On top of that, if you aren’t optimizing your campaigns and performing consistent CRO, you’re going to see these campaigns hemorrhaging money, which can be even more costly and stressful. After all, it’s not just about getting traffic, but getting qualified traffic that actually converts.
Another big barrier of entry for the PPC world is the complexity of mastering the AdWords platform. In 2017-2018, it underwent a pretty big overhaul that took some getting used to. It’s no cake-walk, and it can require a unique blend of right-brain and left-brain activities.
A true PPC expert will not only be able to analyze hard data and optimize based on scientific keyword research and A/B testing, but she or he will also be able to tap into the human aspect of ad copy to engage users and increase engagement. Not only that, but she or he will be able to keep all of this in balance when a large ad budget is on the line.

It's a high-stakes game, but one that's well worth winning.

It’s a high-stakes game, but one that’s well worth winning. – image source

In the end, you’ll see that the pros of PPC far outweigh the cons so long as you know what you’re doing and how to optimize your paid marketing strategies towards the right goals.
Now that you know the basics of what PPC marketing is and why it’s so valuable, we can dive into the intricacies of PPC management. This is where you will get the real value from this blog post — the comprehensive framework around which you’ll build a winning PPC strategy.

The PPC Marketing Food Pyramid

The world of PPC management can be overwhelming.
Just like the 47 different types of milk available at your grocery store, there are twice as many PPC marketing channels to choose from (I found 72. And there are probably more).
You have no shortage of options, but you need to know which PPC channels will work best for your specific goals. And after that, which keywords, ads and landing pages work best as well.
Additionally, understanding which channels, keywords, ads, and optimized landing pages to use is just the beginning. If you use all the PPC food groups in the right way, with the right portions, then you’ll be able to get the highest ROI possible.
That’s what this article and gifographic below will help you with.
Let’s take a look at the PPC Food Pyramid first:
PPC Food Pyramid

Embed this gifographic on your site (copy and paste the code)



PPC Channels + Networks (6-11 Servings)


Wouldn’t it be easy if you could eat the same delicious thing over and over again, and never dislike it?
I kinda feel the same way about PPC. If it was as simple as just using Google AdWords all the time, I’d be ecstatic.
Google AdWords management may be the biggest SEM marketing channel out there — but as I mentioned earlier, there’s plenty more platforms to choose from than just AdWords.
But be careful.
Using too many PPC channels doesn’t lead to a well balanced diet (just like eating too much bread won’t help you lose weight. Trust me, I’ve tried).
Instead, choose a few to begin with and see how they perform.
Once you find a winning PPC channel, experiment with a new one. The more you diversify your PPC traffic sources, the better.
For the sake of not going overboard, I’ve highlighted three individual PPC networks within the different PPC channels. Then, I added some additional ones for further reading if you’re interested.
We’re going to be looking at search engines, display networks, and even some PPC channels may have never heard of.
Let’s have a look.

Search Engine PPC


Google AdWords

Here are some points about Google AdWords:

  • You can target ads to customers in certain countries, regions or cities.
  • It’s by far the biggest search engine out there with the biggest reach.
  • It’s claiming to reach over 90% of all Internet users, and the Google AdWords platform also owns almost 80% of all search traffic in the U.S. alone.

The AdWords platform allows you to bid on those searches that bring direct traffic to your site or landing page in the hopes of a conversion.

 Bing Ads


Bing Ads can have a lower CPC compared to AdWords.

Bing Ads can have a lower CPC compared to AdWords.

In March of 2018, Bing officially passed the mark to achieve a search engine share of 23.7%.
Just like the Google Search Network, you can also bid on certain keywords within the Bing and Yahoo! search engines to have your ads appear.
Even with lower traffic volumes compared to Google, Bing Ads has been found to be particularly profitable for advertisers targeting older demographics and overall, has lower average cost per clicks.



7Search is a pay-per-click network connecting advertisers who want to reach targeted online audiences.

7Search is a pay-per-click network connecting advertisers who want to reach targeted online audiences.

One of the more uncommon PPC search networks out there, 7Search helps you target your keywords with match types on multiple search engines and relevant sites.
You’ll find that the average cost per clicks here are even cheaper than Bing Ads, but the volume is also lower.
You can test out the average cost per click of any keyword by using their keyword tool here.

Other PPC Search Engines

Already using AdWords, Bing Ads, and 7Search?
No worries, here are some more PPC search engines that are less saturated than the ones mentioned above (but keep in mind that the targeting abilities can we worse):


Social Media PPC




Know your target demographic? Facebook ads is for you.

Know your target demographic? Facebook ads is for you.

If you didn’t already know, Facebook is the fiercest competition Google has ever faced when it comes to PPC advertising.
With 88% of their advertising revenue in 2017 coming from mobile devices (a 23% jump since 2014) Facebook has capitalized on targeted PPC ads.
The biggest thing that will differentiate search engine PPC and social media PPC is the omission of keyword intent on the social networks.
But, if you know your target market and demographic well, Facebook advertisements could be much more profitable than any other PPC platform out there.



Twitter ads allow you to bid on your competitors’ followers.

Twitter ads allow you to bid on your competitors’ followers..

If most of your target audience is hanging out on Twitter, then leading with educational content could be the best way for you to get more conversions.
Allowing you to bid on competitor followings and other targeting criteria, Twitter ads can be a great source either through direct targeting or retargeting.
One thing to keep in mind though, do not use hashtags or mentions in your Twitter ads since it could reduce your click-through-rate by 23%.



LinkedIn ads can target people with certain career titles.

LinkedIn ads can target people with certain career titles.

If you’re in the B2B space and want to target certain people with specific job titles, LinkedIn may just be your favorite PPC playground.
Allowing you to target based off company size, the use of exclusions, and more, LinkedIn PPC ads can be perfect for you if you’re average conversion means high revenue.
Average cost per clicks can easily range anywhere from $4 – $10 since you’re competing in the same news feeds as other “professional” advertisers. LinkedIn’s higher CPC is due to the fact that they claim their audience is simply “better,” because of the professional networking focus of the platform. Also, because of their restricted user base (far more average consumers use Facebook daily than login to their LinkedIn profiles to check job apps), the audience is also smaller, leading to a more competitive advertising platform and higher CPC.

Other Social Media PPC Options

In case you’re interested in other social media platforms to run PPC ads on, here are a few more:


Display Advertising PPC

The display/content world of PPC in ginormous.
Having the most vendors of any PPC channel, display advertising is a massive spider web of real-time bid requests that overlap and undercut each other.
Check out this list of display channels you could try today:
AdWords Display

Your business gets found by people on Google precisely when they’re searching for the things that you offer.

Your business gets found by people on Google precisely when they’re searching for the things that you offer.

Just like AdWords rocks the search world, so does their platform when it comes to display advertising.
With over 2 million AdSense publishers (people that allow AdWords display ads on their sites), it’s easy to see how you can reach any audience you’re trying to. Now that the AdWords Display Network has over seven different targeting options (and growing), you can quickly fine tune your campaigns to meet your PPC needs.



Connect with the right people, in the right moments, with DoubleClick’s integrated solutions.

Connect with the right people, in the right moments, with DoubleClick’s integrated solutions.

With over 56% of digital ads that never get seen, it’s important to understand what you can and can’t control when it comes to PPC advertising.
DoubleClick by Google is one of the most robust digital advertising solutions when it comes to squeezing all the ROI possible.
Being able to target just tablets or a specific model of a smartphone on a specific carrier, DoubleClick allows you to get really creative across multiple PPC networks (not just Google inventory).



New publishers are vetted, curated, and added weekly, so you’ll always have access to the best content creators.

New publishers are vetted, curated, and added weekly, so you’ll always have access to the best content creators.

With direct access to hundreds of high-end sites with high engagement rates, BuySellAds allows you to buy direct impressions in specific placements on sites that you choose.
Ranging from display ads, sponsored content, and custom units, BuySellAds can help you find your perfect placements at increments of 1,000 impressions.
Drill down to desired placement categories or pick multiple individual placements. It’s up to you.

Other Display PPC Options

Here are a few other Display PPC options to consider as well:


Retargeting PPC

You got the original click, but no conversion. So how do you retarget past visitors to have them come back and finish the conversion?
Get ready to meet some different retargeting platforms that help you retarget visitors no matter where they are (outdoors not applicable just yet).



Reach your customers across devices, browsers, and apps with access to over 500 ad exchanges.

Reach your customers across devices, browsers, and apps with access to over 500 ad exchanges.

AdRoll helps advertisers quickly set up brand new retargeting campaigns in a snap.
With their simple interface, you can choose to retarget through regular display/content sites, or you could choose to target past visitors on Facebook or Twitter (this is what made AdRoll famous in the beginning).
You can also take advantage of AdRoll’s Dynamic Creative ads and showcase them within Facebook as well.

AdWords Remarketing


You can create different custom audiences while retargeting.

You can create different custom audiences while retargeting.

Using the AdWords interface for regular display remarketing (notice how Google calls it remarketing, not retargeting) is great when you’re already using for search and/or display.
Inside of your AdWords interface, you can create as many custom audiences as you’d like and additional targeting criteria within your remarketing ad groups.
You can also import audiences from Google Analytics that have certain criteria like time on site, for example, and even use Remarketing List for Search Ads (RLSA) to have new ad messages/bids on the Search Network.

SiteScout Retargeting


Create hidden image pixels to retarget with SiteScout.

Create hidden image pixels to retarget with SiteScout.

SiteScout is a hybrid PPC channel as it can do much more than just regular PPC retargeting.
In addition to your traditional image and text retargeting ads, SiteScout also allows you to create hidden image pixels to retarget to people who’ve opened a specific email.
You can also create retargeting audiences based on certain links that they click, to then cookie their browser and retarget them later with whichever message you prefer.

Other Retargeting PPC Options

Here are some other retargeting PPC options you might want to consider:


Programmatic PPC

According to Marketing Land, programmatic advertising helps speed up the PPC campaign creation by automating the targeting process of specific audiences and demographics within your ROI goals.
In the world of PPC, this means that huge budgets are being set on “smart autopilot” to find new pockets of profitability in the online world.
Here are some of the options you have when it comes to programmatic PPC:



Find out what attributes make the perfect marketing moment for each device.

Find out what attributes make the perfect marketing moment for each device.

RocketFuel says that it has the tools to automate your advertising, so that it can learn by itself to continually improve and show progress.
With their Demand Side Platform, RocketFuel helps you find the perfect moments for your ads to show across display, video, mobile, and social channels.
They call it “Marketing In The Moment” and it helps score the likelihood of a successful action at an individual level, not an audience level.

Adobe Media Optimizer


Adobe helps you find the best mix of search, display and social ads based on your budget.

Adobe helps you find the best mix of search, display and social ads based on your budget.

Adobe’s suite of tools is a marketer’s dream (a marketer with deep pockets).
With Dynamic Creative Optimization and programmatic functionality, Adobe Media Optimizer can help you take PPC to the next level through search, display, social, and analytics.
With many of the biggest brands using Adobe’s solutions, it’s easy to see how having one platform to handle everything makes sense.



Quantcast’s monitoring tools help you oversee your campaign to ensure you hit your performance goals.

Quantcast’s monitoring tools help you oversee your campaign to ensure you hit your performance goals.

Quantcast is anything but typical.
With their humongous access to countless data points, Quantcast can help you target real-time browsing behaviors with their programmatic offerings.
By using a mix of both prospecting and retargeting, Quantcast brings in big data to get the most targeted conversions with little to no wasted dollars.

Other Programmatic PPC Options

Here are a few other programmatic PPC options you can consider:


Mobile/App PPC

If you’re promoting any type of mobile offer (like an app), knowing which mobile PPC solutions are out there is absolutely vital.
From going directly through AdWords to more specific and premium ad creative and placements, mobile specific PPC advertising is here to stay.
Let’s take a look at some of your opportunities.



Custom fonts and colors assure that advertiser or sponsored content blends in with editorial.

Custom fonts and colors assure that advertiser or sponsored content blends in with editorial.

Custom fonts and colors assure that advertiser or sponsored content blends in with editorial.
You could never associate the word “sexy” and “mobile ad” until you see a Kargo ad.
Not only does Kargo work directly with some invitation-only marketplaces, but their in-house creative team actually builds out your ads to comply with their and the publishers requirements.
The even claim to be able to reach 80% of all U.S. smartphone users with unique ad twists that involve gamification, native, programmatic and more.



Mobile advertisers can access custom design, media buying and campaign optimization.

Mobile advertisers can access custom design, media buying and campaign optimization.

With an uber impressive display of exclusive brand case studies, AirPush used a three-pronged approach to deliver mobile results at scale.
First, they help with the creative design aspect. Second, they help on the media buying. And lastly, their programmatic solution automatically helps optimize your campaigns by excluding audiences that aren’t performing well and doubling down on the high performers.
Through in-app and mobile site advertising, AirPush will help get to your desired conversion rate and cost per conversion goals.

iAd (Apple)


iAd makes it easy to earn money from ads in your apps and News content.

iAd makes it easy to earn money from ads in your apps and News content.

Whether you’re an advertiser or publisher, Apple iAd platform helps you monetize your app and/or find new users for your app.
If you decide to use the iAd Workbench (as Apple calls it), then you can even advertise within native Apple apps like News and Wallet and also have them show up on your target’s wrist through their Apple Watch.

Other Mobile/App PPC Options

If you’re interested in other mobile/app PPC options, here are a few to consider:


Content PPC

Let’s say your goal isn’t to drive immediate conversions.
Maybe it’s to increase the readership of your blog, get more social shares, or to use content to gain trust.
If that’s the case, you’ll love this section where we dive into content PPC channels that help you amplify your content’s reach.



Outbrain reaches over a half a billion people globally each month.

Outbrain reaches over a half a billion people globally each month.

In its simplest form, Outbrain basically helps you promote your content via paid spots on other publisher sites.
You’ve most likely seen these Outbrain ads before below the original article, and most of them are unfortunately the sensationalist types of post. But, if you have a great twist to a story (like Dollar Shave Club) then you can turn any boring industry content into something worthy of being clicked on.
Within Outbrain, you can choose which geographic locations and devices your sponsored content should show in and on, along with custom max bids and budgets you set.



Taboola helps people discover content they might like yet never knew existed.

Taboola helps people discover content they might like yet never knew existed.

Very similar to Outbrain, although Taboola has less reach.
Moz has a nice post comparing Taboola and Outbrain with different success metrics being covered from the same piece of content being promoted.
SimilarTech also has a very nice head to head comparison of the two services, ultimately declaring Taboola as the winner with more website connections than Outbrain.



Quuu will automatically send hand curated content to your account.

Quuu will automatically send hand curated content to your account.

Quuu isn’t exactly a content PPC channel yet, but I would expect it to become one soon.
If you’re lucky enough to be approved as a curator like us here at KlientBoost, you can essentially submit your posts to a specific category and get up to 100+ Buffer shares depending on the category for free.
The tool also helps you add new, relevant, and interesting posts to your current Buffer queues, so you don’t need to spend time curating yourself.

Other Content PPC Options

Here are some other content PPC options you can consider:


Video PPC (aka Pay-Per-View)

Did you know that YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google?
The only problem (for Google) and opportunity for you is that not a lot of people are taking advantage of the advertising opportunities.
With cost per views still being as low as $0.01, YouTube and other video PPC channels can be a profitable source of conversions.



If you’re not advertising on YouTube yet, you should.

If you’re not advertising on YouTube yet, you should.

It’s no secret that YouTube should be part of your PPC arsenal. The only downside is that it isn’t exactly cheap to split test video ads.
But with cheaper and cheaper options (like, you really have no excuse to not get your feet wet.
With options like in-stream and in-display video ads (and more to come), YouTube gives you complete control to target channels, individual videos, or regular demographics like you would with an AdWords Display campaign.

Facebook Video Ads


Target people based on their interests, behaviors, age, gender and location.

Target people based on their interests, behaviors, age, gender and location.

Just like traditional Facebook ads, you can create video ads just as easily by targeting your specific audience and add in surrounding text too.
With Facebook Video Ads, you can also track the viewing metrics like you would with YouTube video ads to see how you can improve the performance of a video if it only gets viewed 25% of its entirety, for example.
Facebook even touts that video ads can get up to 2.5X higher click-through-rate and the cost per video play can be up to 5.5X less than a traditional Facebook image ad.



Add videos to your SlideShare to benefit from the ads in those videos.

Add videos to your SlideShare to benefit from the ads in those videos.

Did you know it’s now possible to add video to your SlideShare uploads?
And in addition to that, you can actually embed lead collection forms to that SlideShare by creating a new campaign with a total budget and geographic targeting.
Just like more and more social media outlets are incorporating video (like Pinterest’s Promoted Pins), SlideShare’s Pro Account allows you to upload videos within your slide deck and adds in viewer statistics too.

Other Video PPC Options

Here are some other platforms that support video PPC:


Pay Per Call PPC

Does your business live and die by phone calls?
Wouldn’t it be amazing to only pay for phone calls, and not clicks or impressions? That’s exactly what pay per call promises.
And with the rise of mobile continuing to grow, not thinking about generating phone leads would seem foolish. Here are the top option you have when it comes to paying per phone call:



Need phone leads? Give RingPartner a try.

Need phone leads? Give RingPartner a try.

Promising only to have advertisers pay for quality calls, RingPartner helps connect a business in need of phone leads from the source generating those calls.
Pairing their service with a call intelligence tool like Invoca can help you put your inbound call efforts on autopilot while tracking and improving your sales reps and other PPC efforts as it can double as conversion research as well.



Create a simple ad to attract new customers and only pay when customers call you from your ad.

Create a simple ad to attract new customers and only pay when customers call you from your ad.

Trust me, I thought the YellowPages were dead as well. But then I saw that they actually offer a pay per call solution.
With a huge network of publishers that include UrbanSpoon, Dex, and Yahoo! (among others), YellowPages states that you can create your own ads through their platform and only pay when your phone rings.



CallX generates calls for its advertisers through search engine, social media, email and more.

CallX generates calls for its advertisers through search engine, social media, email and more.

CallX is a marketplace that allows you to buy and sell phone leads.
By setting up your own criteria and the types of calls you want, CallX can sell the phone leads to you in batches as low as 10 or as high as 1000.
Even though the buying phone leads has been alive since the boom of radio and print advertising, CallX has carved out a nice little spot for themselves with the continuing rise of mobile usage.

Other Pay Per Call PPC Option

Here is another pay per call PPC option you might consider:


Affiliate PPC

Want other people to sell your stuff?
If you’re okay with paying fair commissions, affiliate PPC may be your new favorite PPC channel.
Selling info-products, SaaS solutions, or physical goods? Then consider using one of these channels today.
It’s how Wire Cutter, Snapsort, and Smart Passive Income each drastically grew their brands through affiliate PPC marketing.



Let ClickBank do the selling for you.

Let ClickBank do the selling for you.

ClickBank is known as the biggest affiliate/commission PPC channel out there. You have a product and you give other people the option to sell it for you.
What your new army of sellers care about revolve around two things:

  • Their commission from each sale
  • The vertical your offer is in

You’ll usually find that weight loss products do well when it comes to affiliate PPC, but you can also find great success with your specific product or service.
You can even see the best performing offers to get ideas on how to package your own offer.

CJ Affiliate


Got an eCommerce store? Give CJ Affiliate a try.

Got an eCommerce store? Give CJ Affiliate a try.

Having a high focus on eCommerce advertisers, Commission Junction (CJ), allows you to reach a similar affiliate audience at ClickBank while only paying from a CPA (cost per acquisition) perspective.
This means that you set the specific commission you’re willing to pay for each sale, while your affiliates go out and pay for the traffic themselves.
For the highest levels of success, it does help when you have image ads and other marketing collateral ready for them to use so they can start promoting you right away.



My Subscription Addiction is a unique way to highlight your product.

My Subscription Addiction is a unique way to highlight your product.

My Subscription Addiction (MSA) isn’t exactly a juggernaut when it comes to affiliate PPC, but I wanted to highlight it since it’s pretty niche.
With MSA, you can pay them for promoting your subscription service (think BarkBox or BirchBox) as their audience is made up of people who are borderline addicted to having things delivered to their homes every month.
Through MSA, you have the options of having them promote you via giveaways, coupon codes, or ad space. It’s up to you to figure out which works best.

Other Affiliate PPC Options

Here are some other affiliate PPC options you might want to consider:


Keyword + Targeting Options (Infinite Servings)


Once you’ve found which PPC channels to use, it’s time to learn which keywords and ads you need to create. When it comes to this, you have two options:
1) Research things from scratch.
2) See what your competitors are doing.
I always recommend a mix of both for two reasons:
1) Copying what your competitors are doing doesn’t always work.
2) It’s great to piggyback off what does work.
Let’s take a look at some keyword research tools you can use when it comes to Search Engine PPC.

Keyword Research Tools

Many people will tell you to go after long tail keywords to find “cheap niches”. But beware.
Many times, your competitors are already bidding on the shortest tail keyword with either a modified broad match (+) or a phrase match (“) keyword. If that’s the case, their ads will most likely still show alongside yours.
The only time you can really take advantage of long tail keywords and score a cheaper cost per click is when you use something called single keyword ad groups with uber specific ads.
Here are some keyword research tools you can utilize:
Google Keyword Planner – This is Google’s flagship research tool that gives you insight into competition levels and average cost per clicks.
FreshKey – Consider this Google auto suggest on steroids. It gives you the top 10 most popular searches for longer tail keywords in alphabetical order.
UberSuggest – Similar to FreshKey, but this is a free and online version.
Huballin – Great for both content and PPC research. Huballin gives you alternatives to root keywords you type in. Think of it as a synonym generator for keywords you may never have thought to bid on.

Here’s what a ‘big data’ search looks like.

Here’s what a ‘big data’ search looks like.

Competitor Meta Tags – By looking at competitors source code, you can see which keywords they’re wanting to potentially rank for. No problem taking these and bidding on them for PPC purposes. Just don’t use your competitor’s trademarks as your own meta tags.
There are lots of other keyword research tools out there. The ones above are the ones we find greatest use with here at KlientBoost when it comes to building out keywords from scratch.
One thing to keep in mind is always understanding the intent behind the keywords you want to bid on. You can go far and wide when it comes to keyword selection, but many keywords don’t hold the same conversion rate potential as others.

PPC Spy Tools

If you want to be quick and take some shortcuts, you can always take a look at which keywords your competitors are bidding on.
I wrote an in-depth post analyzing over 17 different PPC spy tools (updated frequently) that you should take a look at. Here are the top 3 that are the most popular.
SpyFu – SpyFu has a really cool feature that allows you to see a Venn diagram of your own and two competitors’ keywords. You can then click on any part of the Venn diagram to only see certain keywords that you might not be taking advantage of.

Here’s a look at QuickenLoans and its competitors.

Here’s a look at QuickenLoans and its competitors.

iSpionage – With iSpionage, you can drill down the different competitors (both past and present) and sort between Google and Bing to see which keywords they’re bidding on.
It even helps you see competitor landing pages, too.

It even helps you see competitor landing pages, too.

SEMrush – In addition to seeing which keywords you’re bidding on, you can SEMrush to see Shopping Campaign and PLA intel, along with YouTube ad insights.
You can also take a look at SEO intel.

You can also take a look at SEO intel.


Display Targeting Tools

So you got the search networks locked down, what about the world of display?
As you saw, there’s no shortage in display networks or channels, so how do you even begin to know where to place your ads or what options to target?
Enter, display targeting tools.
WhatRunsWhere – This tool not only helps you see where your competitors image ads are hiding, but it also tells you:

  • Which display channels your competitor is using
  • What demographics see their ads
  • Which specific URL placements their ads are on
  • How long the ad has been running
  • The popularity of different text/image ads


Here’s what their dashboard looks like.

Here’s what their dashboard looks like.

NOTE: Check out the five other competitor display tools covered in this post.
If you don’t want to target direct placements then you can use regular display targeting options. Let’s take a look at the different targeting options you have within the AdWords Display Network (biggest one there is):
Placements – These are direct URL targetings you can do with any website that offers AdSense ad space.
Contextual – You give AdWords some keywords and it will find placements for your display ads to be on.
Interests – These are groups of people who all show a similar browsing behavior.
Affinity – These are people with long-term interests, like gardening.
In-Market – These are people who are ready to buy, like rollerblades.
Topics – These are groups of websites that cover a specific topic. You can target these as a whole if you know your target audience is into a specific topic that’s available.
Demographics – These points involve age ranges, gender, and parental status.
Geography – You can target people only within a city or the entire world.
Language – You can target people who have their browser and/or Google settings set to a certain language. This is particularly useful if you want to target a certain language demographic within a country that speaks another language.
Keep in mind that you can mix and match multiple display targeting criteria to make your audience more specific. If done right, then this will usually yield less traffic, but higher conversion rates.

Ad Creation + Split Testing (Infinite Servings)


So you have your targeting criteria ready (your keywords and placements), next up is ad creation.
When it comes to PPC, you have a lot of options with different ad formats. Depending on the PPC channel, you’ll usually find that the most common PPC ads look like this:

Not all ads work on all PPC channels, so keep that in mind when you know what PPC channels you want to use (image ads won’t work on search engines unless it’s a product listing ad [PLA], for example).
When it comes to image ads, you’ll usually find that it’s a safe bet to stay below the file size of 150 kB or less.
When it comes to the dimensions of image ads, here are the most common dimensions in pixels (keep in mind that not all publishers accept all ad sizes):
Wide skyscraper: 160 x 600
Half-page: 300 x 600
Large leaderboard: 970×90
Large mobile banner: 320 x 100
Billboard: 970 x 250
Portrait: 300 x 1050
Panorama: 980 x 120
Top banner: 930 x 180
Triple widescreen: 250 x 360
Netboard: 580 x 400
Banner: 468 x 60
Leaderboard: 728 x 90
Mobile leaderboard: 320 x 50
Square: 250 x 250
Small square: 200 x 200
Large rectangle: 336 x 280
Inline rectangle: 300 x 250
Skyscraper: 120 x 600
Once you have that done, here are the file types behind the most accepted ad formats:
*Please note that some PPC channels don’t accept certain image dimensions or image types. Always great to know which ones work for your PPC channel before building them out.

Text Ad Creation

Awesome, you’re moving along and have everything ready so far.
Now, let’s take a look at the tools you can use to split test text and image ads at scale. To begin with, let’s take a look at AdBasis for text ad split testing.
AdBasis – If you’re a fan of automation, then you’ll love AdBasis. By keeping your connection between keywords and search terms, AdBasis will allow you to scale your text ad testing by using dynamic content.

Here’s a look at their interface.

Here’s a look at their interface.

Optmyzr – Created by a former employee of Google and now evangelist of AdWords, Optmyzr is a suite of tools that allow you to automate your AdWords activity.
With quick One Click Optimizations, Optmyzr allows you to set your criteria for success and have the tool alert you when action is needed.
No more going back to the fridge AdWords account and opening it for no reason.
Here’s a look inside their dashboard.

Here’s a look inside their dashboard. – image source

When split testing your text ads, you’ll want to make sure you only pause losing ads based off confidence levels and length of time tested.
Depending on your ad testing goal (most likely a higher conversion rate), you can use this confidence level calculator from Kissmetrics or this AdWords script that automatically ads in labels declaring winners and losers in your ad groups.
Another thing to consider is tracking the length of time an ad has run. To not have to manually ad “starting date” labels in your AdWords account, you can use this AdWords script to keep track of things automatically in a Google spreadsheet.
Lastly, if your PPC channel has the option, then make sure you give all ads (both text and display) a fair shake at winning. In AdWords, you can change your ad rotation setting to “rotate indefinitely” to take care of this.

Display Ad Creation

Once your text ad testing is in place, it’s time to move on to display ad testing.
You have a lot of different options when it comes to this. We’re just going to focus on the tools that will help you test across the bigger display networks.
Google’s Display Ad Builder – This is a free tool within the AdWords interface that will help you build image and dynamic ads at scale in different variations. You upload your logo, imagery, a link to your site, or pick from their template library and it will take care of the rest.
Export only what you like and start testing with real traffic.

Here’s what their demo looks like. Find the real thing within AdWords.

Here’s what their demo looks like. Find the real thing within AdWords.

AdEspresso – AdEspresso is an awesome tool built specifically for running and split testing Facebook campaigns.
It allows you to quickly create hundreds of different ad combinations in minutes and gives you actionable advice on the performance of your Facebook campaigns.
A sneak peak within the AdEspresso platform.

A sneak peak within the AdEspresso platform.

Adcade – Not to be confused with your childhood arcade, Adcade is an easy drag and drop HTML ad builder that works for both image and dynamic ads.
You can then export the ads you build to any ad server so they’re 100% compliant and ready to use. You can even check out their image ad gallery for inspiration from ads that have been made on their platform.
Best thing? It’s free to download.

Celtra – If you’re ready to just not spend any time on your creative, but would rather automate to the “nth” degree, then programmatic creative is something to consider.
Celtra has a platform that allows you to combine multiple data sources to creative hundreds (if not thousands) of different ad variations to split test for higher click-through-rates and conversion rates.
The robots are slowly taking over.

The robots are slowly taking over.

Oh, and the crazy part? They’re creating their own ad formats at an alarming rate. Like this one called the “reveal banner”.


Landing Page + Conversion Optimization (2-3 Servings)


Running PPC campaigns without thinking of conversion rate optimization is like making a peanut butter & jelly sandwich with just jelly.
You gotta consider the peanut butter too (which by the way, is definitely the better half. Be happy to take this argument to the comments section).
Now that you have your PPC targeting and creative in place, where are you going to send that traffic?
If you’re trying to generate leads, trials, or subscriptions, then consider using a landing page solution like one of the ones below.

Landing Page Builders

Unbounce – This is biggest landing page builder out there. With more employees, templates, and content to support your split testing dreams, Unbounce helps you customize any part of your landing page, without any help from your IT team.
The other neat feature that’s worth mentioning is their Dynamic Text Replacement that allows you to make your landing page text specific to the keyword and ad so your message match game is on fire.

As easy as 1, 2, 3.

As easy as 1, 2, 3.

Instapage – Instapage has a cool brand and a lot of different templates to choose from.
From lead captures to click-throughs, you can find a template that fits your need and make it specific to your brand. Every template is mobile responsive as well.
Here’s a look at one of their templates.

Here’s a look at one of their templates.

LeadPages – LeadPages is one of the fastest growing landing page builders with a recent $27 million in funding.
We don’t use their tools ourselves, but the biggest things I hear about LeadPages is that it’s a quick plug n’ play system that allows you to capture leads outside of landing pages too.
Their templates are restrictive without much customization.

Their templates are restrictive without much customization. – GIF source

If you’re an eCommerce shop or have to send traffic to your website because of backend complexity, then consider one of these conversion testing tools that doesn’t require you to know any code:

On-Site Conversion Tools

Optimizely – Optimizely allows you to split test almost any change on your site without changing any actual code.
Besides regular split testing, Optimizely also allows you to take advantage of the following:

  • Multivariate Testing
  • Revenue Tracking
  • Split URL Testing
  • JavaScript API

It’s by far the more enterprise type of tool when it comes to on-site testing and it does offer some premium features other less expensive tools don’t offer.

Like its Personalization offering.

Like its Personalization offering.

VWO – Known as Visual Website Optimizer, the VWO platform is a cheaper solution that’s perfect for many website owners.
In addition to some of the things that Optimizely offers, VWO also has heatmaps/clickmaps integrated for you to use as part of your conversion research prior to running any tests.
Just like Optimizely, all you have to do is add one code snippet to your site and you can begin testing as much as you want.
A/B test different versions of your home page or other pages.

A/B test different versions of your home page or other pages.


PPC Analytics + Scripts + Bidding (2-3 Servings)


If you’re serious about improving your diet PPC performance and follow a steady program, then you need to be able to track your results.
No time or money could be well spent if you don’t know if things are moving in the right direction. That’s why you need PPC tracking tools to tell you what works and what doesn’t so you can be smart about budget allocations.

PPC Conversion Tracking Tools

Conversion Tracking – Most PPC channels offer some type of conversion tracking in the form of JavaScript codes.
Conversion tracking tells you which keywords, ads, placements, and campaigns are performing the best so you can judge based off cost per conversion numbers.
Call Tracking – If you accept incoming calls as a form of conversion, knowing what makes your phone ring will be absolutely vital.
Outperforming all types of leads by over 80%, PPC calls are known to lead to an average conversion rate of 20-30% compared to 1-2% of other digital leads.
Invoca is a call intelligence software solution that not only tracks PPC calls, but can help you automate your conversion research and reverse engineer spoken words and sentences from phone calls to drive your ad testing.
CallRail is the call tracking solution used by most PPC agencies and smaller to medium sized businesses. Their interface is extremely intuitive and their JavaScript will automatically swap out numbers on your landing page or site to track which keyword or ad placement was responsible for the call.

You can assign different tracking numbers to different campaigns too.

You can assign different tracking numbers to different campaigns too.

Chat Tracking – If you accept live chat as a conversion source, tracking these conversations is just as important as call tracking.
One popular live chat tool is Olark. With Olark, you can customize when you want a conversion to be recorded like when the visitor messages the operator.

PPC Attribution and Analytics Tools

Google Analytics – Most PPC advertisers use Google Analytics in addition to their in-channel reporting.
Google Analytics is another layer of tracking that allows you see additional insight like average time on site, bounce rate, and more, down to the PPC keyword level.
You can also look into attribution within the AdWords interface (Google Analytics offers something similar called the Model Comparison Tool) to understand how many steps a visitor took to perform a conversion.
This is important since many conversion tracking tools give all the conversion credit to the last click, and not the seven clicks that happened prior.
Attribution Modeling – Other tools you can use for more holistic PPC attribution include the likes of comScore that measure branding impacts, Adometry that measures offline and online attribution, and Woopra that showcases your entire funnel movement down to the keyword and ad level.

Here’s a look at how Woopra’s funnel tracking looks.

Here’s a look at how Woopra’s funnel tracking looks.


PPC Quality Score Tools

Tenscores – If you improve your AdWords quality scores, your clicks will ultimately be cheaper. In fact, you can pay less per click and have your ad outrank your competitor’s if your quality scores are better than theirs.
Tenscores is a tool that gives you insight into what you can do to improve your quality scores, down to the ad group level. Which will ultimately lead to cheaper cost per conversions and higher margins for you.
If that doesn’t get you excited to try it out, then their homepage hero shot should.

No one wants to be a sucker.

No one wants to be a sucker.


PPC Bidding Solutions & Tools

You’ve almost reached the finished line and your PPC diet is looking stellar.
Now that you have your traffic and performance benchmarks, it’s time to fine tune your bids so that you don’t overpay or miss out on any opportunities.
The following tools will help you automate your bidding based off specific rules that you set.
AdWords Flexible Bid Strategies – AdWords bid strategies are pretty cool. There are currently six different types of bid strategies you can take advantage of. They are:

  • Maximize clicks: Try to get as many clicks within your daily budget.
  • Target search page location: Adjusts bids to help your ads appear at the top.
  • Target outranking share: Helps you outrank a specific competitor domain.
  • Target cost-per-acquisition (CPA): Adjusts bids to achieve your goal conversion cost.
  • Enhanced cost-per-click (eCPC): Adjusts bids up or down to improve likelihood of conversion.
  • Target return on ad spend (ROAS): Helps you reach a certain ROI percentage you set.

AdWords Automated Rules – A step below the complexity scale when it comes to AdWords scripts, automated rules help you pause, adjust, and launch certain aspects of your AdWords account based on the settings you create.

Here’s an example of a bid increase rule.

Here’s an example of a bid increase rule.

AdWords Scripts – AdWords scripts require a little bit of coding/programming knowledge to take advantage of.
With AdWords scripts, you can take advantage of weather pattern bid changes and stock volumes if you have an eCommerce store to automatically pause the promotion of a specific product.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Marin – If you’re looking to control mostly all of your PPC channels in one place, then Marin could be your solution.
Allowing you to control you social, search, and display campaigns, Marin can help you automate your bidding and optimization with their simple workflow philosophies.
A look inside the Marin platform.

A look inside the Marin platform.

Kenshoo – One of Marin’s biggest competitors, Kenshoo allows you replicate what AdWords Editor does, but with way more features and benefits.
One of their solutions is the Portfolio Optimizer that focuses on improving your profits, not just your conversions or conversion rates.
A look at the filtering mechanism inside Kenshoo.

A look at the filtering mechanism inside Kenshoo.

In addition to bidding, attribution, and automation rules, keep in mind that both Marin, Kenshoo, or other competitors like Acquisio or AdCore aren’t cheap.
They usually charge a percentage of your ad spend, so consider them if the resources saved on manual work can be automated by these tools.

What’s Next?

If you thought this post was exhaustive, consider that there are over 2,000 individual marketing technology companies out there, and the growth isn’t stopping anytime soon.
From data points to automation, if there’s a tool out there that doesn’t satisfy your needs then just wait a few weeks and I’m sure it will show up, just like that new type of taco Taco Bell just introduced last week.
What parts of a well balanced PPC diet did we leave out? Add your thought in the comments and let me know.
Thanks to William Harris for giving us the idea to create this post with his SEO Food Pyramid 🙂
So let me know, what are you thinking is the best Keyword Research Tool?
a) Google Keyword Planner
b) FreshKey
c) Other
We’d love to read in the comments below.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated from the original January 13, 2016 post to include even more knowledge on PPC marketing for both experts and beginners to enjoy.

Klientboost Blog Author <br>Johnathan Dane

Johnathan Dane


We help our clients make more money


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