Understanding Cost Per Click (CPC): Its Significance and Implications

What Is Cost Per Click (CPC)? 

Cost Per Click (CPC) is the amount an advertiser pays for each click on their online advertisement. It's a key metric in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, reflecting the cost-effectiveness of campaigns.

What Is Cost Per Click (CPC)? 

Deciphering Cost per Click (CPC): Its Crucial Role in Online Advertising

Cost per click (CPC) stands as a pivotal metric, quantifying the expense an advertiser incurs with each click on their ad. It holds paramount importance in online advertising due to its direct impact on return on investment (ROI).

Understanding how CPC operates and its implications is essential for gauging the effectiveness of your ads and determining your revenue stream. In this article, we will delve into:

  • The mechanics of CPC
  • Methods for calculating CPC
  • Techniques for uncovering a keyword’s CPC
  • Strategies for reducing CPC

Let’s delve into the intricacies.

How CPC Works

CPC marketing operates within the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising framework, widely embraced by platforms like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

Employing a bidding system, advertisers vie for keywords pertinent to their offerings. Subsequently, when users search for these keywords—such as on Google—the respective ads appear on the search results page.

As an advertiser, you incur costs solely when a user clicks on your ad and lands on your page.

The cost per click (CPC) hinges on various factors including your bid amount, ad quality score, and level of competition.

Optimizing CPC effectiveness necessitates meticulous keyword selection, crafting persuasive ads, and refining your landing pages.

First and foremost, let’s delve into the process of calculating your cost per click.

How to Calculate Cost Per Click

To calculate the cost per click (CPC), divide the total cost of an ad by the total number of clicks it garnered.

The CPC formula is represented as:

Cost per click = Total ad cost / Total number of clicks

For instance, if you invested $100 in a PPC campaign and accumulated 500 clicks, your CPC would be 20 cents.


$100 / 500 clicks = 20 cents

How to Find a Keyword’s Cost Per Click

Discovering a keyword’s average cost per click (CPC) can be achieved through various tools. Here are several options:


You can determine a keyword’s CPC using the Keyword Overview feature.

Begin by entering your desired keyword and clicking on the “Search” button.

You’ll find the keyword’s CPC displayed in the table labeled “CPC.”

That represents the average fee advertisers pay for a user to click on an ad prompted by the keyword in Google Ads.

Alternatively, if you’re conducting keyword research, the Keyword Magic Tool will display each keyword’s average CPC in the “CPC” column.

Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner serves as a complimentary keyword research tool tailored for search campaigns.

It retrieves and compiles data directly from Google Ads, making it an invaluable resource for uncovering a keyword’s average cost per click.

To begin, access the tool and navigate to the “Discover new keywords” option.

Remain on the “Start with keywords” tab within the form. Enter your desired keyword and proceed by clicking on the “Get results” button.

Upon submission, a table will populate with the keyword you provided along with a compilation of related keyword ideas.

And you’ll find each keyword’s CPC under two columns on the table’s right-hand side:

Each column in the table holds specific significance:

  • Top of page bid (low range): Represents the historically lowest bid required to secure placement at the top of the search results page.
  • Top of page bid (high range): Denotes the historically highest bid observed for securing placement at the top of the search results page.

While the average CPC for each keyword may fluctuate, leveraging these ranges provides insight into the approximate bidding requirement to ensure your ad appears prominently on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

How to Lower CPC 

Here are some pointers to assist you in reducing your cost per click and maximizing the effectiveness of your campaigns:

1. Improve Your Quality Score

Google’s Quality Score evaluates the effectiveness of your ad compared to other advertisers. It is assessed at the keyword level and ranges from 1 to 10, considering three key components derived from historical data:

  1. Expected Click-Through Rate (CTR): The probability that your ad will be clicked by a user.
  2. Ad Relevance: How closely your ad aligns with the user’s search intent.
  3. Landing Page Experience: The relevance and quality of your landing page for users who click through.

To ascertain your Quality Score, navigate to the “Keywords” dropdown menu and select “Search keywords.”

Next, click on the “Columns” icon.

Under “Modify columns for keywords,” locate the “Quality Score” section.

Select “Quality Score,” “Landing page exp.,” “Exp. CTR,” and “Ad relevance.”

And click “Apply”

Now, you will observe columns for “Quality Score” and other pertinent elements, facilitating a clear view of areas that require attention.

For instance:

Now, let’s look at how to improve Quality Score.

Make Your Ads More Relevant

Enhancing the relevance of your ads increases the likelihood of reaching interested individuals and enticing clicks.

One effective strategy is to steer clear of broad ad groups that encompass multiple keyword categories. Instead, opt for creating numerous highly targeted ad groups.

For instance, rather than having a single ad group targeting “running shoes,” consider breaking it down into more specific ad groups such as:

  • “Waterproof running shoes”
  • “Running shoes for active women”
  • “Running shoes with wide toe boxes”

Each of these ad groups should target even more precise keywords. For instance, the “waterproof running shoes” ad group could target keywords like “waterproof running shoes for winter” and “waterproof running shoes wide fit.”

While this approach may result in the creation of additional ad groups and ads, the payoff lies in the heightened relevance of your ads to the targeted keywords, potentially bolstering your Quality Score.

Improve Your Landing Page 

The quality of your landing pages significantly influences your campaign’s effectiveness and budget allocation.

To enhance your Quality Score, consider implementing the following landing page best practices:

  1. Relevance: Ensure that your landing page aligns closely with the user’s search intent. Direct visitors to a page that correlates with their search query to minimize bounce rates.
  2. Clear Copy: Craft concise and compelling copy that succinctly conveys the purpose and value proposition of your landing page. Avoid ambiguity to foster user engagement.
  3. Simplicity: Streamline the user journey by eliminating unnecessary clicks. Present essential information upfront and minimize navigation hurdles to facilitate a seamless browsing experience.
  4. User Experience: Prioritize accessibility and consistency between your ad copy and landing page content. Maintain a cohesive visual identity and ensure intuitive navigation to instill confidence in visitors.

Implementing these best practices can not only enhance your Quality Score but also contribute to improved user engagement and conversion rates.

Improve Your CTR

A high Click-Through Rate (CTR) indicates that your ad effectively captures the attention of your audience, consequently enhancing your Quality Score.

To boost your CTR, consider implementing the following strategies:

  1. Utilize Assets: Incorporate additional information such as call buttons, location details, and links to specific sections of your website within your ad. This enriches your ad’s visibility and entices users to click.
  2. Employ Compelling CTAs: Incorporate persuasive calls-to-action (CTAs) such as “buy,” “order,” or “sign up” to prompt users to take action. A well-crafted CTA can significantly influence user engagement and click-through behavior.
  3. Highlight Benefits: Emphasize enticing perks such as free shipping, exclusive deals, or limited-time offers in your ad text. Clearly communicate the value proposition to incentivize clicks and drive conversions.
  4. Address User Intent: Craft ad copy that directly addresses the search query you’re targeting. Tailoring your messaging to match user intent enhances relevance and encourages users to click through to your landing page.

Implementing these strategies can not only improve your CTR but also contribute to overall campaign success and a higher Quality Score.

2. Find & Bid on Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords represent highly specific search queries, typically with lower monthly search volumes compared to broader head terms and medium-tail keywords. Despite their lower search volumes, long-tail keywords offer advantages such as easier ranking, lower costs, and the ability to attract highly targeted traffic.

To discover long-tail keywords, utilize the Keyword Magic Tool. Simply input the keyword you wish to target and click on “Search.”

Afterward, select “Advanced filters” and adjust the “Word count” to two or three. Finally, click on “Apply” to implement the changes.

Following these steps should generate a list of long-tail keywords that are related to your target keyword.

Including multiple long-tail keywords in relevant ad groups can result in notable improvements in ad relevance and potentially lower CPCs.

3. Use Negative Keywords Effectively

Negative keywords are specific terms that you deliberately exclude from your search campaigns to prevent your ads from appearing when users search for those terms.

By implementing negative keywords, you can effectively reduce your cost per click, ensuring that your budget is not wasted on irrelevant searches.

To identify negative keywords, review your Google Ads Search Terms report. Access this report by navigating to “Insights and reports” and selecting “Search terms” within your Google Ads account.

Upon accessing the Search Terms report, you’ll be presented with a list of keywords that trigger your ads.

Browse through the list to identify search terms that are irrelevant to your campaign objectives.

Select the checkbox next to the keywords you wish to exclude as negative keywords, then click on “Add as negative keyword” to implement your selections.

After selecting the desired negative keywords, you can opt to add them to an ad group, campaign, or negative keyword list for exclusion.

Utilize the Keyword Magic Tool to identify negative keywords by entering your seed keyword and clicking on “Search.”

Upon conducting the search, you’ll receive a list of keyword ideas that are associated with your seed keyword.

Scan through the list of keyword ideas to identify any irrelevant terms, and then add them to your negative keyword list accordingly.

4. Use Ad Scheduling

Ad scheduling offers two significant benefits:

  1. Display ads during peak online activity hours, increasing the likelihood of reaching potential customers.
  2. Adjust bidding strategies according to specific time periods, optimizing cost per click and driving more conversions.

To determine the most effective days and times for your ads, review the performance data in the “Day and Hour” section of the “Ad schedule” page.

To schedule your ads accordingly, navigate to the “Ad schedule” section by clicking on “Show more” followed by “Ad schedule.”

Click on the “pencil” icon and choose the campaign you wish to create an ad schedule for.

Select the specific days and times you want your ads to be displayed, and then click on “Save” to apply the ad schedule.

5. Use Geo-Targeting

To set up location targeting, navigate to the “Locations” section by clicking on “Show more” in your Google Ads account. Here, you can specify the countries, regions, or areas where you want your ads to be displayed. You can target specific locations or set up radius targeting around a particular area. Additionally, you have the option to create location groups, such as places of interest or your business locations, for more targeted advertising.

Once you’ve selected your desired locations, you can apply bid adjustments based on location. This allows you to increase or decrease your bids depending on the performance of specific geographic areas. For instance, if certain locations yield higher conversion rates, you might choose to increase your bids to maximize visibility in those areas.

By leveraging location targeting and bid adjustments, you can optimize your PPC campaigns to reach the most relevant audience in the most effective manner, ultimately improving your ROI and cost per click.

After clicking the blue “pencil” icon, simply enter the name of the location you wish to target. Then, click “Save” to apply your changes.

Google offers a thorough guide on configuring different types of location targeting.

6. Use Different Keyword Match Types

Keyword match types determine how closely a keyword must match a user’s search query to trigger your ad. There are three types:

Broad match: Shows ads on searches related to your keyword.
Phrase match: Shows ads on searches that include the meaning of your keyword.
Exact match: Shows ads on searches with the same meaning or intent as your keyword.

Keyword match types determine how closely a keyword must match a user’s search query for your ad to be eligible to appear in the search results.

For instance, broad match casts a wider net, displaying your ad to a broader audience, while exact match targets a more specific group.

In practical terms, exact match keywords are highly targeted and relevant, albeit with higher CPCs. Conversely, broad match keywords are less targeted but have lower CPCs.

To maximize effectiveness, employ a balanced mix of match types and regularly fine-tune your campaign for optimal performance.

7. Use Device Adjustments

You can adjust your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) bid manually for mobile, tablet, and desktop devices based on your customers’ behavior on each device.

Begin by examining your ad performance data for each device within Google Ads. For instance, you might discover that mobile devices generate more clicks and impressions, but these users may not convert as frequently.

To assess ad performance across devices, navigate to “Insights & reports,” select “When & where ads showed,” and access the “Devices” tab.

To set targeted bid adjustments, click the pencil icon in the “Bid adj.” column and adjust your bids accordingly for specific devices.

Uncover Your Competitors’ Ad Strategies

Now that you understand CPC, let’s delve deeper by analyzing your competitors’ ad strategies. By studying their strengths and weaknesses, you can optimize your own campaign effectively. Utilize the Advertising Research tool for this purpose. Simply input a competitor’s domain and click “Search.”

On the initial screen, you’ll find the keywords your competitor is bidding on. Each keyword is accompanied by its ranking position in paid search, cost per click, and other relevant metrics. Here’s an example:

For a more comprehensive analysis, navigate to the “Ads Copies” tab. There, you’ll find the precise ads your competitor is running, complete with headlines, ad copy, CTAs, landing pages, and the keywords they’re targeting.

Click on the “Keywords” drop-down to open a table with the keywords that trigger the ad in search results.

Repeat these steps for all of your top competitors, gather insights, and pull ahead.

What Is Maximum Cost Per Click?

Max CPC is the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a single click on your ad, set within your Google Ads account.

When deciding on your max CPC bid, consider the value of each click to your campaign. Your actual cost per click won’t exceed this bid.

A higher bid often improves your ad’s position on the page, but you typically only need to outbid competitors to ensure visibility.

What Is Average Cost Per Click?

Average cost per click (CPC) is calculated by dividing the total cost of all clicks by the total number of clicks received.

For example, if your ad campaign generated two clicks with costs of $1 and $3 respectively, totaling $4, and the total number of clicks was 2, your average CPC would be $2.

This is calculated as follows: Total cost of clicks ($4) / Total number of clicks (2) = Average CPC ($2)

What Is Actual Cost Per Click?

Your actual cost per click (CPC) is the amount you are charged for each click on your ad. This CPC is often lower than your maximum CPC bid because you only need to pay enough to outbid competitors immediately below you.

Google evaluates ads based on two key factors: Ad Rank and Quality Score.

Ad Rank determines your ad’s position on the search engine results page (SERP) or whether it appears at all. It considers factors like bid amount, ad quality, auction competitiveness, and user search intent.

Quality Score, measured on a scale of 1-10, assesses how your ad compares to competitors’ CPC ads. A higher Quality Score indicates that your ad and its associated landing page are more helpful to users than your competitors’ ads. Quality Score is influenced by expected click-through rate (CTR), ad relevance, and landing page experience.

That’s correct! If your ad meets Google’s quality threshold and your bid is competitive enough, your ad has a chance of appearing above your competitors’ ads on the search engine results page (SERP). This positioning can lead to increased visibility and higher click-through rates, ultimately improving the effectiveness of your ad campaign.

What Is Manual Cost Per Click?

Manual CPC bidding is a strategy that allows you to set your maximum cost-per-click (CPC) for each ad and keyword in your campaign manually. This approach is particularly useful when you have specific insights into which keywords drive more clicks and conversions for your business. By manually adjusting the CPC bids, you can allocate a higher budget to keywords that perform well, maximizing the effectiveness of your ad spend.

What Is Enhanced Cost Per Click?

Enhanced CPC (ECPC) is a feature that enhances your manual CPC bidding strategy by automatically adjusting your manual bids in real time. It works by analyzing various factors such as browser, location, and time of day to determine the likelihood of a click leading to a valuable conversion. ECPC is essentially a hybrid approach that combines the control of manual bidding with the optimization power of Smart Bidding, a machine learning-based strategy aimed at maximizing conversions and conversion value. By leveraging ECPC, advertisers can improve the efficiency of their campaigns and achieve better value for their conversions.

What Is Automated Bidding?

Automated bidding streamlines the process of setting bids by allowing platforms like Google to automatically adjust them based on the likelihood of your ad resulting in a click or conversion. This approach is particularly useful for competitive keywords, where bidding strategies can be dynamically adjusted to maximize visibility and achieve campaign goals. Different automated bidding strategies cater to specific objectives, such as increasing clicks or conversions. For instance, when setting up campaigns through the Semrush Ads Launch Assistant app, you can select your business goal, such as boosting website visitors or enhancing awareness. The app then recommends a suitable bidding strategy aligned with your objectives. Additionally, the app provides valuable insights by suggesting top matching keywords, generating ad headlines and copy, and incorporating extensions and UTM tags to optimize your campaign performance.