Adwords, PPC, Pay Per Click, SEM – What’s The Difference?

We have all been in that situation: you try something new and find out that people talk a secret language and acronyms fly across the room. You cast a glance to your immediate neighbours. Everybody nods approvingly, and you seem to be the only who doesn’t know what is going on so you can’t possibly ask for clarification! Especially not when it comes to website optimisation and anything that has to do with Google and website marketing. Doesn’t everybody know everything?

Let us put your mind at rest. First of all, some of these people are just bluffing. They don’t know either but they are just too embarrassed to say so! Secondly, give us the next 10 minutes of your life and read our jargon buster and you will be one of those acquiescing knowingly in SEO workshops.

So, let’s start!



This is Google’s paid online advertising programme which produces the majority of their revenue.

Businesses can target specific keywords, and when it is searched for, their company and copy will be displayed on the result page, either at the very top above the natural results (links which appear on the page results without being advertised), or in the right-side column.

Everybody wants to be on the first page of Google’s results, so it must be a great programme, right? Well, it depends.

You may remember that there used to be a coloured area at the top of a result page, with three featured companies. Have you ever wondered where it’s gone? It is still there, but is now almost indistinguishable, save a very discreet thin blue line.

The thing is, people are savvy and they know that those results are advertisements, and research has shown that we put more trust in organic results, i.e. those that appear in the search results naturally because of their relevance. So Google removed the styling to make it less obvious that companies at the top were paying to be there.

As for the right-side column, ask yourself how often you actually look at them? You see, eye-movement studies have also revealed that we skim webpages in an ‘F’ pattern, scrolling down the left side, flying over the top, a little bit in the central area, and ignoring most of the rest. So bad news for those who paid to be featured there…

Having said that, Adwords can give your company a boost just when it needs it, and it can be a profitable investment, provided that you are experienced at running Adwords campaign.


Meet PPC… and its relatives CPC and CPM

Adwords campaigns are very easy to set up, and you can, truly, have one up and running within 10 minutes. But it comes with a health warning: unless you know what to do, it could bring you more trouble than success.

Why is that? Because of the way you are charged. Unlike offline ads, where your cost is fixed and known in advance, with Adwords you are charged for each visitor who clicks on the link you are sponsoring, which is why Adwords campaigns are also sometimes known as “Pay-Per-Click “ or PPC. This means that if your campaign isn’t specific enough, you could end up with huge low-value traffic… and consequently a huge bill with little or no return on your investment. It is possible to set a daily budget, but likewise it could be reached within minutes with no benefit if your target isn’t precise enough.

CPC means cost-per-click and is the cost you will be charged for each click.

CPM, or cost per mille, expresses the cost for 1,000 estimated views (also called impressions) of your ad, and it can sometimes be a more useful way to compare two possible keywords.

Adwords can be a powerful tool, but one that requires specialist knowledge to make it work for you – despite what Google will have you believe – so it is worth leaving it in the hands of a professional SEO marketer.



This is the last acronym we will bombard you with today, and stands for Search Engine Marketing. It is one area of internet marketing and involves a wide range of activities aimed at improving the visibility of a website on search engine results page such as those described above, as well as website optimisation and content creation for example.

There you go, now you can be one of those wise people nodding knowingly! If you feel generous, share this blog with those less fortunate than you, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you are looking for an Adwords company in Auckland.


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