PPC Business Ethics Every Company Should Know
Competition in online advertising is fierce, and it will continue to rise in intensity. With traditional, old-school businesses finding their way online, and a new generation of digital entrepreneurs, Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is becoming a battleground. However, that doesn’t mean there are no longer ethics in PPC advertising.
Too often, businesses try to overcome intense competition – 50% of small businesses now use PPC – using dishonest, shady, and unethical tactics. Employing such methods in PPC advertising not only gives your customers unrealistic expectations but also harms your business reputation, elevates the perception that your competitors are honest, and sees your ads removed by the platform you’re using.
According to Google Economic Impact, for every $1 spent on Google Ads, businesses make $8 in return, emphasizing the importance of an impactful PPC strategy. To keep you on the right track pushing towards your business goals, we’ve put together a PPC best practice guide. This details the business ethics you should know and follow. Let’s get started.
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1. Don’t Directly Slam Your Competition
Your value proposition, brand, and product quality are why consumers should purchase from you. If you’ve presented your offering correctly, targeted the correct audience, and positioned your products successfully, you will acquire market share from your competitors. However, some businesses resort to slamming their competitors in their PPC ad copy.
Businesses often employ this tactic because it is the only way to get their ads to appear in place of their competitor's brand name. However, criticizing another company can give you a terrible brand image. Imagine Nike has recalled a pair of trainers because the sole is coming unstuck. Then, you Google search Nike Trainers and see an ad from Adidas titled Had Enough of Nike Trainers Falling Apart?
What would you think of Adidas at this point? Would this enhance your opinion of Adidas? It’s likely your opinion of Adidas would change, but not for the better. Avoid directly or implicitly criticizing another company in your PPC advertising text.
2. No Click Fraud
In PPC advertising, every time someone clicks on an ad, the business running the ad is charged. As a result, another way some dishonest advertisers attempt to better position themselves is by maxing out their competitors' budgets. While an improved click rate will improve their ad position, the aim of this strategy is to max out competitor PPC budgets, meaning their ads will no longer appear. Now, your ads will rank higher as you’ve taken your competitor out of the race, thus driving more traffic to your site.
Another method of click fraud is to click on your own ads repeatedly. Some advertisers have set aside a portion of their budget to click on their ads, boosting the click-through rate. A higher click-through rate shows Google that your ads are relevant and should be in the top positions.
However, PPC ad platforms are an ever-changing landscape, meaning businesses that do this need a bottomless pit of money. Also, they need to have a good landing page, product, and proposition to recoup their unethical ad spend. We wouldn’t recommend click-fraud in any PPC guide.
3. Be Yourself – Don’t Plagiarize
Most PPC guidelines you read will tell you plagiarism is a no-go. Often, the ad users see is their first impression of your business. It’s a small amount of copy for them to decide if your brand is right for them – why would you want to use another persons' words?
We’re not saying you shouldn’t do some research, find the most successful ads, and take inspiration from them - that’s the logical thing to do. However, taking all the copy for your own is highly likely to result in your ads being punished by Google, meaning they won’t appear at all. Although the Google algorithm doesn’t actually look for plagiarized ad copy, copying your competitors word for word isn’t ethical and will put users off rather than inspiring them to click.
4. Don’t Use Non-Relevant Keywords or Content
While it would be challenging to get your ads to rank for keywords that aren’t relevant, you shouldn’t be trying to anyway. As with any other online or offline channel, misleading your customers is frowned upon. Advertising for high-traffic keywords that don’t match what you're offering or writing exaggerated content that claims your product does something it doesn't will only result in a negative opinion of your business.
Firstly, if you use irrelevant keywords, it’s likely that any user that clicks and lands on your page will bounce, and you’ll still be charged. Secondly, if your exaggerated claims result in a purchase, you will have made some money, but at what cost? The unsatisfied customer is highly likely to leave a negative review, impacting your future sales. And, if this is done by many customers, you’ll get a lot of negative press.
5. Always Use Honest Links
Never advertise one product and send users to a page that features something different. Known as a bait and switch tactic, this practice will result in a loss of integrity for your business. In addition, Google will penalize your ads for being irrelevant and fake. The algorithm detects this by comparing your ad copy with the content on the landing page you’re sending users to.
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If you’ve seen PPC advertising companies operating on a cost-per-impression model, ensure you’re analyzing their reports thoroughly by monitoring the relevance of ads, keywords, and links. Remember, the more impressions they generate, the more you have to pay them. If they’re dishonest, they could be employing this tactic.
When thinking about PPC rules, you should consider what you’d do with any other advertising channel. Google is smart. It’s always watching and can see when you step out of the bounds of ethical practices. In addition, if you don’t get caught by the Google algorithm, many consumers are also savvy and can spot unethical advertising and will avoid and actively encourage others to avoid your businesses.
If there’s one thing to take from our PPC best practices, it’s that honesty is the best policy. It's time to get creative with your content, have a battle with your competitors for impressions, and ethically win over potential customers. If you feel like expert advice will help you get the most from online advertising, get in touch with our Las Vegas PPC agency, and we’ll be happy to help.
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