As often found with Paid Search marketing, achieving a first place page ranking is usually the main priority for online marketers & business owners.
Similarly to Organic Search, there’s plenty of ways to improve your Paid Search performance to hit the top spot in Google Ads, but it’s something you will likely have to pay increased amounts to achieve this.
But, increasing your cost per click (CPC) spend isn’t the be all and end all – there are ways to improve your search engine page position without increasing your budget – you may even find that your PPC ads perform better at a lower position too…
In order for your Search ads to show on Google, you need to be bidding high enough for your chosen keywords to outbid whoever else is currently advertising via Google Ads. What some people may think when they search for their keywords and don’t immediately see their ads is that they aren’t appearing at all. The reality is that you may be appearing in the page rankings, but your search ad may be lower down, on the second page, or lower, or you only appear at less competitive times of the day.
By increasing your CPC bid and quality score of your ad you can boost your position in the ad slots; Google even offers specific features which you can target where you want your ad to appear. So, you can bid automatically to reach the top of the first page, or even the #1 spot.
Ads are ranked according to Google Ads’ own “AdRank”. This metric determines where your ad should be placed in the search results and is based on two variables each advertiser has control over: Quality Score and your CPC bid. The two are essential as it prevents bigger budget advertisers compared to you from blowing everyone out of the water regardless of their relevance.
What this means is that advertisers/PPC agencies should try and improve the Quality Score for their target terms as much as possible to ensure they are as relevant as they can be. The reward for this will ultimately be lower CPCs for these terms and also increasing your chances of appearing at the top of the search results.
Common sense would suggest that the higher up you are in the search results, the more likely you are to get searchers to click your ad. And to an extent this can be true. However, there are many other factors to consider when aiming for a top position in the ad slots to ensure you get a good return on your investment.
You need to know how valuable a term is to your business and whether you are relevant and presenting the searchers with an enticing enough proposition. There may also be opportunities to appear at the top for key periods of the day when you normally get the most enquiries/calls/sales.
This is where things can get tricky, and will need a lot of observation and attention to detail on behalf of whoever is managing the PPC activity for your brand. It isn’t unheard of for some companies to achieve a greater ROI from appearing lower than the top 3 results. Sometimes even having an average position of 4.7 could bring in a better ROAS (return on ad spend) versus breaking the bank aiming for position #1.
Typically you want to ensure your ads are seen initially to get an idea of how they perform and to expedite the Quality Scoring period. Aiming for an average position of 3 or under is a good starting place and gives you the chance to see which terms should be trialled higher up via a more aggressive bidding & improved quality score.
As we covered earlier, your low AdRank will be down to one of two possible areas: your bid or your quality score. Google provides a way to see what the bids should be in order to reach either:
So you can see where your current bid is in relation to these, and see whether you can afford to increase your bids for more visibility. It is possible to experiment increasing your CPC bids at a level matching the top of the first page initially to get the most impressions and an idea of how the majority of the searching public interact with your ads. If they get seen but not a lot in the way of clicks then you may need to work on making your ad copy more enticing & to stand out from the competition.
The other aspect is your quality score for that term. Quality Score is measured out of 10, with 9’s & 10’s being the ideal to aim for. Most terms will start at 5/10 until Google reviews your Ads account, at which point it will go up or down based on how relevant your landing page and your ad copy is.
So, if you’ve run ads for a while and are still struggling to see them/have a low average position, then look at the Quality Score for your terms and see where you are lacking.
If you cannot afford to increase your bids then there’s still plenty you can do to improve your AdRank via Quality Score. We’ll cover the three components of Quality Score and list a few things you can do to improve them.
This isn’t just down to whether your target keyword is mentioned on your landing page multiple times. It also includes elements such as whether there are annoying popups when the user arrives on a page; how easy it is to navigate; but most importantly, how easy is it to convert? Some advertisers will even build separate PPC landing pages where there are minimal distractions/links besides a contact form or data capture page to maximise the chances of a conversion.
It stands to reason that you should mention the keyword you’re targeting within the ad copy you’ll be serving. Sometimes this isn’t always possible with long-tail keywords, but there are opportunities such as dynamic text to help you here. Try not to flood your ads with the keyword though, if you mention it in the headline then don’t feel obligated to include it again in the description, you’ll still want the room in your ads to get across unique selling points and calls to action as well.
This is a more difficult metric to improve initially, as it is mostly based on your historic performance for that keyword. So you may find with new keywords this figure stays “below average” until you start to improve your performance for this keyword. The best way to improve this is to ensure you’re running ads as targeted as possible:
If it becomes clear your ads are more relevant and that they’re actively being improved then your expected clickthrough rating should raise to Average or Above Average more quickly.
Mark, our PPC Specialist, explains all!