If you’re just getting started out in pay per click marketing, it can be difficult to figure out where to start. There are a lot of companies out there to have a magic bullet or “proprietary system” that will solve all of your PPC woes once and for all. Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of unscrupulous companies taking advantage of people’s ignorance of the online marketing space. PPC is still a relatively new thing compared to advertising forms like print ads and television commercials. With a lot of advertising dollars moving online from offline channels there’s a lot of money to be made in being a PPC “expert” – all you have to do is know slightly more than the people who have the ad money.
If you happen to be one of those folks holding the ad money, it could really pay off to educate yourself a little about how PPC works. Fortunately, there are plenty of free resources out there for PPC education. Here are a few of my top picks.
AdWords Learning Center – This is probably the best place to start. Here, you’ll find the preparation materials for the AdWords certification exam. You don’t have to take the exam to use the materials, but if you have fifty bucks and a tolerance for online quizzes, you can get AdWords certified once you finish reading over these free materials. These documents cover the basics of the Adwords platform. But, keep in mind that there is a slight bias toward optimizing accounts the “Google Way.” That is, they teach you how to optimize your account in ways that makes more money for Google. In real-life PPC management, you don’t always have to pay more money to Google to make your account perform better.
Microsoft AdCenter Training – Here’s a similar offering for Microsoft AdCenter. There are plenty of video tutorials to walk you through the experience of running a Microsoft AdCenter account. Microsoft also offers a certification program called adExcellence, but you don’t need to take the test to use the free videos.
Guide to Facebook Ads – With Facebook becoming an increasingly important service in online life, it’s crucial for web advertisers to at least consider Facebook ads as part of their overall PPC strategy. This tutorial page should give you the basics on how Facebook ads work, and how to use them to their maximum effectiveness.
LinkedIn’s Direct Ads offering is still relatively new (and somewhat limited), so they don’t have a single page with education resources. But these three links should give you a good start on learning the platform. If you want to create some highly-targeted social network ads to business professionals, LinkedIn is a great place to start. But, it can be a little too tightly focused for most products you need to advertise. Your results may vary.
This collection of links should cover the basics of how all the major PPC providers operate. You should also check up regularly on reputable PPC blogs (like this one) to help you stay current on events that develop in the industry. Don’t be intimidated by the volume of information – PPC is simpler to understand than you think! But getting good at PPC takes a lot of experience, experiments, and trial and error. With the information on these pages, you should at least be able to understand what the experts are talking about, and be able to distinguish a real pro from a fly-by-night huckster that’s trying to con you out of a management fee.