What Is a PPC Campaign? Chris Dreyer Explains AdWords Strategies

What is a PPC Campaign? Chris Dreyer Explains AdWords Strategies

Chris Dreyer There are lots of great resources online for learning AdWords, but rarely do those tutorials provide the practical experience necessary to be really successful. Today we are lucky enough to get a glimpse of that experience first-hand from our guest Chris Dreyer. Chris is the President and Founder of Attorney Rankings, a company that offers high-quality website design, pay per click management and Internet marketing services for lawyers. In this post, he shares some of his best advice for what a PPC campaign is and how to configure one to make money for a business.

What is a PPC Campaign?

I didn’t ask this question of Chris, but thought I would touch on the answer briefly before we dive in.  A PPC, or pay-per-click campaign, is a form of paid online advertising where ad buyers pay a fee to a provider every time an Internet user clicks on an ad displayed by that provider. One of the most popular PPC providers as of late is Google, who offers both search and display advertising. There are many, many other PPC providers including private websites that sell ad space.

Q: How can PPC be used to promote a business online?

A: PPC is one of the most effective ways to advertise online for any new business because you can immediately obtain targeted traffic to your website. It levels the playing field because most use an auction-based price system, and the higher bid typically wins. SEO takes time, and it is very difficult to compete with older websites with thousands of pages indexed and already-established website authority. With PPC and competitive keyword research, you can buy traffic you can afford. It becomes a numbers game to obtain a return on investment.

Google derives most of it’s money from PPC ads, so it makes sense that they would give the best virtual real estate to the paid ads on their search engine results. The PPC ads take up nearly 75% of the screen above the fold on most queries, so even with a #1 position in the SEO results, you may receive a higher ad impression share from a #1 PPC position.

Q: How much do you have to spend in PPC advertising to be successful?

A: It depends on the niche and location. For example, most of my experience is with law firms. A criminal defense lawyer may spend $75 or higher per/click in LA compared to only $25 per click for a criminal defense lawyer in St Louis. It’s very important to set up conversion tracking so that you have the most information on your ad spend. To break it down into simple terms, you want to make more than you spend. Conversion tracking is how you determine ROI.

Q: Does pay-per-click only mean advertising on other websites?

A: Google AdWords has two main PPC options: Display Network Advertising and Search Network Advertising. The Display Network uses the Google Adsense partners. It allows anyone to put ads on their website and receive revenue sharing from a Google AdWords campaign. The ads found on the Search Network are the ones that are displayed after a search query is entered. They are most often in the top and right hand side of the page. So, to answer your question, “Does pay per click only mean advertising on other websites?”…no, you can advertise using the Search Network.

Q: What are some key things to know to be successful with PPC advertising?

A: I’ll give you the top 5 things you need to know:

  1. Do keyword research and find out how much traffic potential there is and approximately how much it costs. I use the Google Keyword Tool.
  2. Have appropriate landing pages for each keyword you decide to bid on.
  3. Set up and use conversion tracking.
  4. Maintain a very detailed negative keyword list. Here is a comprehensive guide on negative keywords for lawyers, but any industry can use it to get ideas.
  5. Optimize bidding & positioning. If a keyword is receiving a very low CTR, increase bidding, change keyword match types or pause the keyword.

Q: Besides ads, what else should be optimized to be effective at PPC advertising?

A: Optimize match types between “phrase type,” [exact match] and +broad +match +modifier. Many times there is a level of progression I personally use for optimization. Let’s say I start with a phrase match keyword, “Portland injury lawyer,” and it is receiving a poor CTR. Change it to broad match modifier: +Portland +injury +lawyer. Broad match modifier allows my ad to trigger if all three words are in a query, but they do not have to be in any order like phrase or exact match. If broad match modifier does not work, I will then move on to exact match [Portland injury lawyer], and if I still have a low CTR, I will either try to improve the landing page or pause the keyword and target a different keyword. So, here is my progression:

“phase match” > +broad +match +modifier > [exact match]

It’s also very important to get rid of any queries that will not convert into business. For example, if someone typed in “free Portland injury attorney,” that would be a terrible keyword to trigger my ad on because it contains the word “free.” “Free” would be an ideal word to add to most negative keyword lists. For attorneys, “pro bono” is another auto-include for most campaigns. You can also improve your negative keywords by going through your search query report. Add keywords that are profitable to your campaign and exclude keywords that will not return value.

Q: Are there certain kinds of websites/businesses that aren’t good for PPC advertising?

A: That’s a tough question to answer. In some cases, a niche may be very expensive and difficult to get a ROI in. That is why conversion tracking is very important. My ego wants to say no, lol, but I’m sure there are some niches that are too difficult to dive into without an already-established web presence and brand identity. My advice is to take the necessary steps to become Google AdWords Certified and learn everything you can about Google AdWords before jumping in and spending a lot of money.

Q: What if my website doesn’t have a way for people to convert online — is PPC still good to use?

A: It can be a great tool to improve your brand recognition to help improve conversions in the future. If you’re wanting to be seen online for any reason, then PPC can help if you’re willing to spend the money.

Q: What is the best way to get people to click on my PPC ads?

A: Google wants ads and their destinations to be as relevant as possible. They are looking for the absolute best user experience. If you want to get an ad clicked, make sure it has compelling copy and a call to action, you’re in the top 3 ad position and it is extremely niche-targeted.

Q: Are there any resources that I could look to for PPC advice?

A: The absolute best thing anyone can do is take the time to become Google AdWords certified. It’s currently $100 total to become certified. The preparation and study guides Google AdWords provide are very helpful.

Q: Isn’t all online advertising PPC?

A: It definitely seems that way if you put a price on your time. SEO is so difficult to do anymore with ever-changing algorithms, social metrics, link building, content development, etc. I love Google AdWords PPC because there seems to be more control on results. It’s just a big numbers game.


We would like to thank Chris for taking the time to enlighten our readers on PPC. A big part of being successful with online advertising is attaining real-world experience and getting your feet wet. Tutorials can teach you a lot, but having someone share their experiences is much more powerful. Thanks, Chris!


What questions do you have about PPC? How do you learn to manage your campaigns more effectively?

Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.

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