What I Hate About PPC #Semrushchat

Liza Voronkova

Jun 27, 201610 min read
What I Hate About PPC

Everyone familiar with online marketing knows that PPC is an internet advertising model in which advertisers pay a fee each time their ad is clicked. One of the most popular forms of pay-per-click is search engine advertising, and Google AdWords is the most popular PPC advertising system. It allows advertisers to bid on keyword phrases that are relevant to their target market.

In a nutshell, advertisers use this model to buy visits to their websites, rather than earning them organically. If done correctly, PPC can get your business on the first page of SERPs for your targeted terms and in front of your desired audience. However, advertising annoys people, and some advertisers make critical mistakes that can practically kill their PPC campaign.

In our latest SEMrush Chat, we discussed different aspects that we all hate about PPC. Many experts, including PPC specialists, joined our discussion and shared their thoughts.


The first banner ads that appeared on the Web in the 90s saw extremely high click-through rates – between 50 and 90 percent, which now seems incredible! Today, banner ads are on the decline.

Let’s find out what types of ads encourage people to click on them.

First of all, an ad’s content should be very appealing to users. If it captures people’s attention by making an interesting offer, they simply can’t help but click on it.

ThinkSEM ‏ @ThinkSEM also describes ads that are worth clicking: “When I'm product shopping I'll click on ads that are relevant, eye-catching and promising.”

It’s very important for advertisers to focus on relevance when developing their PPC campaigns. Relevant ads tend to earn more clicks. Include your targeted keywords in your ad texts and make sure that your landing page features exactly what your ad offers.

Besides relevance, James Yorke ‏ @BecomeKnown named another important element of successful ads. Users won’t click unless an ad inspires trust: “I click on ads that are the most relevant and that I feel like I can trust.” A dubious ad will not make people visit the website it’s linked to.

The Ultimate Free Google AdWords Toolkit

Typically, users tend to click on advertisements that belong to well-known, trusted companies, as Ryan Johnson points out:

Traffic Jam Media suggests that sitelinks are usually a huge help for users. Sitelinks are hyperlinks that lead to specific subpages of a website and appear under certain Google listings. They help searchers easily navigate a website. By including additional sitelinks below an ad text, you can help your potential customers find exactly what they’re looking for on your site.

Traffic Jam Media also adds that whether or not users will click on your ad also depends on what they need and want at the moment. If your ad answers their questions and corresponds to their needs, people are more likely to click on it: “I'll click on whichever ad answers my query or seems it will be the most likely to do so.”

And some of our chat participants mostly click on branded B2C ads:

InsideView collected several examples of successful B2C ad campaigns marketers can learn a lot from.

Now, let’s sum all the answers we received.


Make sure that your ad is eye-catching, relevant and promising. Otherwise, people will ignore it or even get annoyed with it.


There are some common mistakes that can prevent marketers from getting the most out of their pay-per-click campaigns. PPC specialists always struggle for users’ attention; and sometimes their ads can be really frustrating.

We asked our chat participants what things PPC specialists should definitely stop doing.

  • Sending traffic to generic pages

Users are searching for specific things. When developing a PPC campaign, you should focus on creating unique landing pages for your ads. If your potential customers land on a relevant page, they are more likely to stay on your website and browse through more content. Conversion rates for personalized landing pages are usually much higher than for generic pages.

  • Retargeting users after they’ve made a purchase

If a person has already bought something they were looking for, they obviously don’t need to see an ad featuring the same product. As Medium Blue ‏ @MediumBlueSEM fairly suggests, retargeting without proper limits and parameters is a bad idea: “Frustration brews from perpetual retargeting after a purchase or action.”

Express Writers ‏ @ExpWriters also points out that it’s very irritating for users when they have to see the same add on every website they visit: “Seeing the same ad on site after site gets very annoying.”

  • Targeting competitors’ brands

Even though targeting competitors’ brands can provide a decent boost in traffic, this strategy has serious drawbacks. By bidding on your competitors, you’re stealing their traffic and practically starting a war.

What’s more, when people search for a brand online, they are obviously planning to buy from that very store. That’s why not very many searchers will click on an ad that doesn’t belong to the brand they’re searching for. This will cause your ad to have a low CTR.

  • Using tracking cookies

Some advertisers use third-party cookies, also known as ‘tracking cookies,’ to track users’ visits to various websites on which they advertise. Many people consider these cookies an unconscionable invasion of their privacy.

  • Sending mobile users to a desktop page

Having a mobile-friendly campaign is becoming increasingly important for successful online performance. To create a mobile-optimized campaign, website owners should make sure that their mobile ads lead to a responsive webpage, not a desktop page.

Check out a few other answers in the following recap.


If you, as a PPC specialist, want to maximize your campaigns’ success, you should avoid these common PPC mistakes.


Today, marketing is becoming more about tools and analytics. Let’s find out what our chat participants are most unhappy about when it comes to PPC tools and analytics.

First of all, many web analytic tools don’t deliver accurate data. There might be various reasons for this. For example, some visitors block cookies and JavaScript.

Several of our guests are not satisfied with some analytic tools that are known for estimating CPC incorrectly.

According to Steve Hill (ステブ ヒル), even though he hasn’t had a lot of trouble with analytic tools and thinks that PPC reporting is great, he still wants to see Google integrate AdWords change history into performance reporting better.

By using attribution modelling in Google AdWords users can understand the role of various campaigns, ads and keywords that are leading to conversions.

Through attribution modelling you can discover whether or not people are visiting your page via PPC ads before converting. It seems that not every user is happy about how it works. Matt Lacuesta shares his thoughts about attribution modelling in Google Adwords:

Since customers don’t always understand how to read results from analytics, PPC agencies often have to pay for a reporting service in order to help their clients grasp the results they gathered using analytic tools.

Nevertheless, analytic tools provide various options that that can make your work a lot easier and faster. “There are actually a lot of tools out there that make the job a lot easier,” according to Joe Martinez ‏ @MilwaukeePPC.

As we can see, many people are very unhappy about the inaccurate data that web analytic tools can deliver. So what bothers you about PPC analytics? Share your thought in the comments!


During our discussion about the things we all hate about PPC, we also asked our guests to name a paid media option they would totally get rid of.


Obviously, not every user likes AdWords. One of the reasons is because they don’t always trust the ads that appear the very top spot on the Google results page.

By far, not all businesses make AdWords a part of their marketing campaign. While it can help some companies expand their business, AdWords won’t be very beneficial for others. John Rampton describes five reasons why businesses shouldn’t use AdWords in his article posted on Forbes.

Sponsored content usually represents useful or entertaining information and focuses on increasing the value of a brand. As Joe Martinez says, a large amount of this type of content is low quality.

Deceptive advertising

Deceptive advertising includes misleading statements. Some advertisers use various “black hat” techniques to misrepresent the products that they promote. As a result, both existing and new customers may feel betrayed.

Spammy banner ads

Banner ads can be really annoying. They often look unpleasing and contain text that demands something from users (e.g., “click,” “buy,” etc.). No wonder so many people can’t stand them.

YouTube ads

Some of our chat participants would also get rid of YouTube ads, if they could. An increasing number of users are turning to AdBlock extension, which allow to prevent an advertisement from being displayed. Some of the AdBlock extensions also enable users to remove video ads from YouTube.

Let’s see a few other answers from our guests.


So are there any paid media options that you would get rid of? Let us know in the comments!

Finally, we’ve come up to the PPC remarketing tips. Together with our chat participants we collected several important tactics for better remarketing.

Segment your audiences

It’s very important to define and segment your audience properly. Do thorough research to identify your remarketing audience that you could set up for PPC. Joe Martinez recommends remarketing to your specific audience and add Negative Audience to exclude people who has been already converted. In Google AdWords go to the Audience Negative tab and click +Add Negative Audience. Then select the audience that you want to block from seeing your ads.

Set expiration dates for remarketing cookies

When setting up your remarketing campaign, don’t forget to set expiration dates for your remarketing cookies. In AdWords the expiration date represents how long you allow the cookie to exist. A cookie will exist only for the length of time that you’ve chosen. Once expired, a user will be removed from your remarketing list.

Refresh your content

Today people consume increasing amounts of information in the form of news stories, blog posts, Tweets, Facebook statuses, emails and other content. So it’s very difficult to captivate them. What appealed to your audience a month ago now may no longer be interesting to them. Refreshing your ads might be a way to draw your audience back in.

Be helpful, not intrusive

Finally, always think about your users and how you can help them. You definitely don’t want to bother them with intrusive ads. If you can answer their questions and provide them with solutions to their problems, they will be willing to visit your website.

Remarketing, or ‘retargeting,’ can be a powerful branding and conversion-optimization tool. But it will be effective only as a part of a larger, well-planned digital strategy.


That was our final question!

This article wasn’t intended to claim that PPC is bad, but to provide some insights into the pay-per-click advertising model, which can sometimes be very difficult. We hope the tactics mentioned in this post will help PPC specialists get the most out of their campaigns.

Thanks to our chat participants for their expertise and invaluable tips!