What does CPC stand for?

If you’ve ever dabbled some with SEO as a blogger or an upcoming Digital Marketing Professional, chances are pretty big that you’ve come across the term “CPC”. But what does CPC stand for, what does it mean, and how can we use it in our own keyword research?

In this post, I’ll break down the definition of CPC and explain what you need to know.

So, what does CPC stand for?

CPC stands for Cost Per Click.

It is a metric used within paid advertising (such as Google Ads) to determine how much is costs to generate a click from the Search Result to your page (or app). Essentially, it is the amount that an advertiser pays each time someone clicks on one of their ads.

For example, if you’re running a Google Ads campaign and your CPC is $1.00, that means it costs you $1.00 to generate a click on your ad.

How do we use CPC in SEO?

Even though CPC is primarily a metric used within Paid advertising, we use it in SEO to determine how competitive a term might be.

Keyword Explorer tool in Ahrefs showing terms for best gloves.

A very common tool for SEOs is Ahrefs, and the table above is coming from their Keywords Explorer tool.

Let’s say you have a site related to Gloves, and you want to explore what you can write more about where the competition isn’t off the charts.

Looking at the top 3 keywords with the highest keyword difficulty (KD) we can see that they vary not only in search volume but also in CPC.

  • best boxing gloves (CPC $0.30)
  • best winter gloves for men (CPC $2.50)
  • best gloves (CPC $1.10)

It’s not too uncommon that the further down the sales funnel, the more expensive it gets. The reason is you are probably way closer to converting (buying a pair of gloves, in this case). If the CPC is high, the competition is usually high. This is because a visit that converts on the page buying the ad is worth a lot.

Have a look at “best football gloves” in the table. A very low Keyword Difficulty (KD) of 3, a decent monthly search volume (over 3k), and a relatively low CPC of just $0.60 shows that companies aren’t going head over heels to outbid each other on the term, which makes for a great opportunity to get a post ranking organically.

But do take note that many tools (including Ahrefs) don’t update the CPC data very often, so always treat the CPC values in external tools as a dynamic metric that can change quickly. Advertisers can change their bids by lowering or raising them at any point in time.

If you want to know more about how CPC is calculated, this post from Google explaining how it works in Google Ads will help you out.

CPC from bloggers’ point of view

CPC is important for both advertisers and publishers (bloggers) because it helps to determine how much money each side should spend on a campaign, and how much money the publisher can expect to earn from displaying the advertiser’s ads.

For example, if an advertiser has a CPC of $1.00 and a CTR of 0.5%, that means they are paying $1.00 for every 100 impressions and earning $0.50 for every person who clicks on their ad.

Conversely, if a publisher has a CPM of $10.00 and a CTR of 0.5%, they are earning $10.00 for every 1,000 impressions and $5.00 for every person who clicks on an ad.

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