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Getting started in PPC

Published: Friday 4th November 2016

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So you want to be an Pay Per Click whiz? What does it take? What does it even mean? If you don’t know about Pay Per Click or paid search, you’re possibly one of those people who ignores the ads in search results. But paid search advertising is a £5 billion business, so what skills do you need to succeed in it?

PPC might be considered to be ‘technical marketing’. As such, it requires mix of the creative, the analytical and the methodical. Let’s take a closer look at some of these aspects of the job, and what it takes to be good at PPC.

The Creative Skills

At the heart of PPC is the ad you’ll see in search results, and writing it (or creating the imagery for it) is the one element of PPC that is entirely down to you. Everything else, as we’ll see, is technical – and could even be automated.

The real challenge (and skill) is to come up with a very short but utterly compelling ‘essay’ with hooks and USPs and calls to action… in as few as words as possible. In fact, it’s a little easier these days with recent changes to the text ad format, but still, the creative challenge is there, and I’m surprised that there are no jobs advertised for ‘PPC Copywriters’! Of course there are many ad formats besides the text ad, so you may have to work closely with graphic designers to craft the perfect ad.

The Keyword Research Skills

So, you’ve got your beautifully crafted ads. But the ads are only shown based on keywords – so it’s your responsibility to decide on the set of keywords that will trigger the ads. This is a traditional SEO skill – keyword research. It requires knowledge of the product, of the competition, and of the mindset of the person using the search engine.


Budgeting Skills

Your next task is to decide how much you want to spend on your ads & keywords, and specifically how much you’re going to bid per keyword. Again, it can all be automated, but basic knowledge of ROAS, CPA, CTR and other marketing metrics will help.

Analytical Skills

Like any marketing, you need to step back and judge the success of your efforts. This will be done mainly in Adwords or your chosen platform. But presuming your ads are successful and people are clicking through to your site, you’ll also need to be looking closely at the user experience using tools such as Google Analytics.



PPC experience is often measured in the size of the budget you’ve worked with, as well as the sectors you’ve worked in. You’ll either be in-house or agency; regardless, a great Return On Ad Spend is a good indicator of your talents. There is of course no better way to refine and hone your PPC skills than to create and run your own campaigns for your own pet project or for a friend.

Be sure to spend the time to get certified. Google’s Adwords certification is free and while it’s not a breeze for the novice, it will give you a great idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

Start your career in paid search – find PPC jobs on Zoek

Avg UK salary for a PPC Executive: £25,000

UK Digital Ad spend 2015 £8.6 billion

Paid search accounted for around 50% of that –  £4.36bn

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