As digital marketing has grown, it has become both competitive and potentially lucrative. Managing pay per click ads is something that most business owners don’t have time to do properly, which is why they’ll happily pay a PPC specialist to do it for them.
If you’re tempted to step into the world of becoming a PPC manager, or even starting your own PPC agency, it can be very rewarding.
And although there is a lot to learn, becoming a PPC expert is definitely not rocket science. You just need to have an idea of the processes you need to follow to get from PPC zero to PPC hero.
In this post, we’re gonna look at how you can become a PPC specialist and build yourself as either an in-house expert, or build your freelance business.
What does a PPC specialist do?
A PPC manager will manage multiple aspects of setting up, monitoring and optimising pay per click ads.
This includes many important factors such as:
- Analyse the industry and the market to get an idea of the competition
- Check their keyword research, or most likely do your own keyword research
- Build a picture of who you’re targeting (building customer avatars, which most companies haven’t done)
- Plan your ad campaign strategy by platform
- Create the ad copy (or at least source it)
- Set up and run the ads
- Monitor and analyse the ad performance regularly
- Optimise ads based on data, feedback and your analysis
- Understand how to maximise your clicks, conversions and ROI
- Create and manage landing pages for campaigns
Actually, as you might have noticed, there is a lot more than meets the eye when it comes to managing PPC campaigns.
And there are also a dizzying array of PPC platforms that could be considered for the average ad campaign. Before we explain which ones you should focus on, let’s take a quick look at the options.
Which PPC platforms to focus on?
When establishing yourself as a PPC specialist, the thing to realise is that there are now loads of platforms to choose from.
The biggest ad network is Google Ads – which commands an 80% market share (approximately). So if you’re looking to manage PPC ads for anyone, you’re probably gonna need to have some Google Ads experience under your belt.
Google Ads also covers everything from the paid search results, banner ads on the Google Display Network (GDN) through to YouTube, Google Shopping and more.
Facebook Ads is the king of social media ads, of course. Facebook’s empire includes Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and the Facebook Audience Network which are all massive in their own right.
Other search sites
Yes, Google is the biggest search platform. But Microsoft/Bing Ads are also used extensively. In fact, Microsoft Ads powers search on a number of third party platforms too such as Yahoo, Ecosia, AOL and DuckDuckGo.
If you want to target users on these niche but growing search platforms, you’ll want to use Bing Ads (now known as Microsoft Advertising).
Other social media
Beyond Facebook, social media advertising can get complex. There are a multitude of platforms including Linkedin, Reddit, Twitter, Snapchat and TikTok.
Each of these have their own advertising which you’ll need to access individually.
Native ads and RTB platforms
Going beyond the standard ad platforms, there is also a whole world of options for advertising. The native advertising platforms such as Taboola and Outbrain have their own benefits and requirements.
And then there are real time bidding (RTB) channels such as AppNexus, Rubicon, Adroll and…. Well, there is a huge choice of RTB platforms. Some specialise in native content, some focus on ads within apps, some even allow you to insert ads into emails.
If you’re looking to establish yourself as a PPC expert, focusing on Google Ads will do to start. Move on to the Facebook suite of ad platforms and level up with the other channels whenever you get the time/opportunity.
PPC training and courses
Going from novice to PPC expert is no easy feat. And there are definitely processes that you’ll need to master before you can start to charge people real money to manage their ads for them.
If you’ve managed ad campaigns before, perhaps as part of your job, then this will help.
And the truth is that hands on experience is pretty crucial to being a PPC specialist. The theory is one thing, but the reality of seeing how your campaigns perform in the real world is a totally different experience.
But there are ways to level up your PPC skills in a relatively quick time frame.
How to get PPC experience?
- Step one: Take some courses to teach you the basics. Many of the courses to get started in PPC are free. We’ll look at course providers in a moment, but this needs to be one of the first things you do to get up to speed.
- Step two: Get certified. Again, these are usually free and are provided by the ad platforms themselves. You will need certification eventually if you’re considering a career in PPC management, or even if you just want to improve your in-house PPC prospects.
- Step three: Run some ads and see how they perform. If you have a business, run some Google or Facebook ads with whatever budget you can afford. It will be invaluable. If you don’t yet have a business, offer your expertise to a friend or family member who might appreciate the help from a budding PPC specialist.
Google Ads training and certification
The best way to become an expert at anything? Including Google Ads? Study…
Google offers a full range of courses for those looking to become PPC specialists.
And if you want to get anywhere near being a PPC specialist, you should look at completing some of these courses.
Do you need to complete all of them?
Well, that is up to you. There are different certifications for different Google Ads categories, for example Google Shopping, Apps and Display.
Obviously the more the merrier, especially if you’re trying to master the PPC game.
We recommend starting at the very least with Google Ads Search, Display and Measurement certifications.
These three courses should set you up for the essential requirements of most PPC consultants.
Facebook Ads training and certifications
As you might expect, Facebook also offers a selection of marketing training designed to get you up to speed on their platforms.
Facebook Blueprint, now rebranded as Meta Blueprint (of course) is where you’ll find all the courses you’ll need to understand how to build ads on FB.
They offer simple courses, designed to get business owners up to speed. But there are also more comprehensive options for aspiring PPC professionals such as yourself to get stuck into.
If you want to be a PPC expert, then Facebook Ads certification is definitely going to be an important part of the process.
Microsoft Ads training and certifications
Although you won’t need to make Microsoft Ads training a priority to get started, it is still a good idea to schedule it into your journey.
The truth is that much of what you learn from the Google Ads training will also apply to Bing/Microsoft.
The main benefit of having the Microsoft Ads certifications is earning the badge. Obviously it’ll make it look like you’re more of a qualified PPC expert on your website.
Other training courses
Although these certifications from the main ad platforms are an essential, they’re not always the most accessible for a beginner. If you’re just trying to get your skills up to speed, you’ll find other options too.
Check out PPC courses on:
Or run a search for PPC training or PPC courses in your area. There are often local options, and sometimes even assistance from government departments.
For example local trade associations often supply cheap or free training for small businesses. These can sometimes include an intro to search engine marketing or courses for specific business related skills, including PPC.
Finding a personal mentor can be literally invaluable. Personal support can speed up your progress and provide a foundation for your own experiences moving forward.
If you’re lucky enough to know someone who could be your mentor, why not ask them. They might be someone you’ve worked with before, or perhaps a network connection. Perhaps even a business professional who has successfully run their own PPC campaigns – not necessarily as a PPC specialist.
If you don’t have a great choice in your area then try these approaches instead.
- Connect with PPC experts on Linkedin or social media and follow their advice. Many people offer free insight and advice on a daily basis
- Ask your network for anyone they recommend who might be open to mentoring you
- Reach out to PPC agencies or professionals near you and ask if you can offer your services (perhaps for free or cheap) while you learn the ropes
Having a mentor isn’t an essential part of becoming a PPC specialist. But having one can definitely help you level up and get some priceless insight.
After all, “experience is the mother of wisdom.”
The quick guide to PPC skills
So you’re ready to get started with your training and become a PPC consultant? Although it can seem like there’s a lot to take in, we’ll look at each of the essential skills required to manage PPC campaigns.
Market and keyword research
Unfortunately there is no single blanket approach to pay per click ads. Each client will have their own unique challenges and market demands – even within the same industry.
PPC specialists often focus on a specific industry, not because they can apply the same template to every client, but because their insight can be applied across each specific account.
This doesn’t mean you need to be a ‘travel PPC manager’ or ‘specialist in real estate PPC marketing’. But it can definitely be useful.
Whatever the client or the industry, you’ll need to understand:
- Their marketing goals – which might not be a single thing but a number of unique requirements
- The audience demographic or target market, including ages, locations and online haunts, spending habits and demand for the product
- Market trends and seasonal impacts
- The language used to find solutions to the problem
That last point around language brings us to keyword research. This is an entire artform in itself and is something that needs it’s own blog post.
To sum it up as a TL;DR (which kinda misses the point, because it’s a huge and essential subject); aim to target high intent and long tail keywords instead of broad or general search terms.
The reason for this is that general search terms attract high volumes of traffic but with lower potential for conversions.
Again, this is a massive generalisation and you will need to study keyword research in detail as this is perhaps the most important part of managing pay per click ads.
Segmenting ad campaigns
Each client will most likely have a number of different strategies for their PPC campaigns, This might include attracting more top-of-funnel clicks, for people researching the industry, all the way to retargeting past customers.
Managing specific ad campaigns for different stages of the customer journey allows you to be more specific with targeting, budget management, and analysis.
For example, if you have a client who sells equipment for swimming pools, they might want to be visible to people planning to install a swimming pool. At this stage, they’re researching, so attracting MQLs here could net a big sale down the line.
At the other end of the spectrum, those who already bought, or who have a need to maintain a swimming pool will need to buy chemicals, filters, nets, covers, and all manner of add-ons.
So of course you won’t want to mix your bottom of funnel remarketing campaigns with your top of funnel research and awareness campaigns.
You’re looking at different budget spends, different search terms and maybe even a bit of seasonality with demand too.
Understanding how to segment your campaigns to target different stages of the customer journey is key to overall success in PPC.
Ad copy and content
One of the most important elements of PPC advertising is the copy. This is especially true with paid search ads, but also applies for social media posts and display ads too.
In general, hiring a content writing professional will help you get the job done right. However that can be expensive, so understanding how to write quality PPC ad copy is a priceless skill in itself.
Again, there is no blanket rule which applies to all PPC campaigns and industries. But speaking extremely generally:
- Speak to your customer and give them benefits – less about ‘us’ and ‘we’ and more about ‘you’.
- Use power words – these are words that imply value, quality or scarcity. It’s a big subject so check out our blog on the subject.
- Do A/B testing with your content – and always be ready to change or update your ad copy.
- Don’t be afraid to use a call to action, or CTA.
- Make use of ad extensions.
Create and manage landing pages
Landing pages can be a very useful tool to reduce bounce rates and improve conversions. They’re not always the responsibility of the ad campaign manager – more often they’ll be the domain of the business owner.
But knowing how to create (and how to optimise) PPC landing pages for advertising campaigns is a strong plus.
Running your ads and using analytics
Once your PPC campaigns go live, you’ll need to monitor them regularly. Just because you did your keyword research doesn’t mean that your advertising campaigns are going to deliver on their own.
Things need tweaking regularly.
Check in your Google Analytics dashboard, keep an eye on conversion rates, CTRs, bounce rates and rates of invalid traffic.
Although Google Analytics is a great tool, we do also recommend using extra tools to monitor your ads.
ClickCease is one of these tools. Not only does it block invalid traffic from fake clicks such as bots or click farms, it can also offer insight into your ad performance. You can also check out website visitor behaviour and receive alerts if anyone else bids on your keywords.
Blocking invalid traffic
Invalid traffic is any form of non-genuine traffic, which can be anything from accidental clicks from poorly placed ads, to organised criminals running bots designed to steal your ad budget. Yes it is a thing.
Although all of the ad platforms do offer IVT blocking, the common consensus is that they don’t block enough.
As an example, here at ClickCease we block an additional 14-20% of clicks on Google Ads as fraudulent. And that is after Google have supposedly blocked the bad clicks.
PPC professionals increasingly use click fraud prevention to reduce this budget wastage and improve conversions.
ClickCease offers the industry leading solution and blocks fake clicks on Google, Facebook and Microsoft Ads.
Invalid traffic costs advertisers an average of 15% of their ad budget. Use fraud blocking software to save your clients money and improve your ad performance.
How much does a PPC consultant get paid?
The average PPC specialist salary varies around the world. On average, globally and with most of your clients in Europe or North America, you’ll be looking at an average of $30,000 per year.
In the USA, the average is $58,748 (2022)
In the UK, the range varies from £18,000 up to £50,000 for experienced consultants. The average is just over £30,000.
The average salary in Europe varies, from €26,000 in Spain to €38,000 in France and €40,000 in Germany.
PPC experts based in India and Pakistan earn significantly less, with the annual wage coming in at around $4,500.
Of course, the average wage for a PPC consultant depends on the local market.
Career prospects for PPC consultants
Online advertising is in demand, and more and more business owners are willing to pay someone to manage their PPC strategy.
If you’re looking for a job that has growth potential for the future, or you want to build your career prospects, PPC training is a good option.
If you want your PPC clients to love your work even more, make sure to block invalid traffic with ClickCease.
You’ll get stacks of extra invaluable insight and you’ll avoid bots and bad clicks too.
Sign up for a FREE 7 DAY TRIAL.