The basic definition of ad rank hasn’t changed over the years.
Ad Rank is the value that determines your ad’s position on Google search compared to other ads.
While we all know that ad rank is the main factor in determining your ad position, what exactly are these factors?
What goes into ad rank calculation? What can you control to improve your ad ranking?
If you’re not sure where to start with ad rank, this one is for you.
While ad rank may seem like a simple math, it can feel like an uphill battle trying to improve.
You’ll find everything you need to know about ad rank, why it’s important, and how you can improve it without spending more.
What exactly is Ad Rank?
According to Google, the official Definition of It: “A value used to determine the position of your ad (where ads are shown on a page relative to other ads) and whether your ads will appear at all.”
For example, if your ad appears in the second position on the page, your ad rank for that specific search is two.
But, what factors actually affect your ad rank?
Prior to 2017, Ad Rank was a much simpler calculation that included the maximum cost per click and the number of competitors relative to search.
Since Google Ads made some fundamental changes to the way ad rank is calculated, such as thresholds and machine learning, it’s gotten a lot more complicated.
Simply put, Ad Rank is calculated by:
- You have the bid amount.
- Ad quality at the time of the auction.
- Competitive auction.
- user search context.
- The expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.
Each search for a specific keyword is analyzed by identifying the above factors to give it an ad rank.
This means that every search is fundamentally different. This means that in one search auction, you can have one ad rank. But in the next search auction, you may get an ad rank of four.
To fully understand Ad Rank, let’s dive into each of the above factors.
- Your bid amount: This is how much you are willing to pay to appear in a certain position when a user searches for a keyword. There is a minimum and a maximum. For example, if you set a maximum CPC of $2, and the next highest bidder has a maximum CPC of $1.60, then you’ll pay $1.61 in that auction.
- Ad quality: There are three main factors that go into determining the quality of your ad. These include expected clickthrough rate (CTR), ad relevance, and landing page experience.
- User signals and attributes: These signals include things like location, device type, and time of day. Ad Rank limits will vary based on these factors.
- search context: Two different people can search for the same keyword and have two completely different contexts.
- Auction Competitiveness: Your ad’s ranking can also be based on auctions for related but similar searches. For example, [wedding invitations] And [wedding invites] Search terms can be informed by each other as they are similar in nature.
- Expected impact of ad extensions and other formats: Google will look at your ad extensions for relevance, click-through rate, and general experience with the ad.
Since Google Ads is essentially an auction, it is often assumed that if you bid higher, you will reach the highest place for the ad.
In the world of complexity, this is not the case anymore.
You may be bidding much lower than your competitor in an auction, but you can still outpace them if your ads are better!
Although there are many differences between organic and paid searches, they work similarly in the fact that Google will favor more relevant information for searchers.
Now that we’ve gone through the basics of ad rank and how it’s calculated, here are three ways you can improve your ad rank – all without spending any more money.
1. Optimize the relevance of your ad
Ad relevance is a major component of your ad ranking. As mentioned earlier, ad relevance is one of the three components that make up ad quality or quality score.
According to Google official Definition ofad relevance is “how well your ad matches the intent of a user’s search”.
So, how can you improve the relevance of your ad?
Start by auditing your current ad copy and cross-referencing the keywords you’re bidding on.
Do titles or descriptions include keywords that the user is searching for?
Responsive search ads are a great way to test different versions to determine what works best for the user.
Google gives some reports on titles and descriptions, including rating them from “low” to “best” in terms of performance.
If you find winning ad copy that performs well, you can also pin the best performing headline to the top of your ad, ensuring that it always appears in your ad.
Now, while you should focus on including relevant keywords in your copy that the user is searching for, don’t confuse that with keyword stuffing.
Gone are the days of focusing on SKAG (Single Keyword Ad Groups). It was easy to get higher ad relevance using SKAGs because you always matched a specific search term to the headline.
As Google expands exact match types, advertisers have had to move away from SKAGs and focus on the big picture. Everyone searches differently, and if you’re relying on the SKAGs on your account to move up a certain level, you may be limiting yourself.
Second, part of Google’s definition of ad relevance is how well the ad matches the user’s intent.
Say I’m looking for [keyword research tool cost]. Obviously, I’m looking at how much a tool like this costs per month.
This example above hits all the key points of a good ad:
- The title matches my search query.
- Good use of the sitelink extension to compare plans and prices.
- Provides brand authority with over 10 million users.
- Additional trial period to test before purchasing.
To sum it up, ad relevance is not just about trying to fit keywords as many times in your copy as possible.
Google is more focused on user intent and how well your ad helps that user solve a problem.
2. Focus on the content of ad extensions
Ad extensions are something that can easily be forgotten when creating new campaigns and ad groups.
While they may seem boring or unimportant to set up, the opposite is true.
Ad extensions are a vital part of increasing your ad rank on Google. They help to increase your click-through rate (CTR) and in turn help to increase your ad rank.
Why do they help increase CTR? I’m glad you asked!
Ad extensions allow you to give users additional information about your business that you can’t convey in your ad. After all, we are still limited in character count with titles and descriptions.
However, don’t add extensions just for the sake of adding them.
In fact, if you add extensions to a campaign or ad group that don’t match your search terms, it can actually lower your ad rank.
So, what is the purpose of using ad extensions?
Well, almost anything! Google continues to produce additional ways for us as advertisers to get our message across to a user to help them resolve a problem.
As of now, this is the available ad extensions that you can create:
- Website (and affiliate site).
- Site section link.
- Structured excerpt.
- lead model.
- Upgrade functional.
With all these options, how do you choose what to add?
Ideally, you should create your ad extensions based on your campaign objective(s).
For example, if you own a local business and are trying to drive traffic to the store, you would benefit from adding location extensions.
If your goal is to increase web traffic, try adding relevant sitelinks to different areas of your site that can help with the user issue.
If your main goal is lead generation, try adding a lead form extension to your ads – especially if you don’t have a stellar landing page. But we’ll go into more landing pages in the next section.
To summarize, be specific about the extras you add to your campaigns. Aligning them with your campaign goals can help increase your ad rank significantly.
3. Create better landing pages
Landing pages are often a forgotten piece of the conversion puzzle.
However, I would argue that this is the most important part of improving your ad rank.
If you’ve ever clicked on a paid ad and been disappointed with your landing page experience, you know how frustrating that can be.
As a researcher, UX can make you buy or not.
Your search query should be a direct indication of what you expect to see when you land on a website.
In the past, many advertisers would spend a lot of time creating a different landing page for each ad group to ensure that the page contained exactly what the user was looking for.
Well, in theory, that’s fine, right?
It’s good – if you help them solve a problem. If you’re creating landing pages with fluff copy just to match a search term, you’ve got it all wrong.
If you haven’t noticed the Google thread lately, it’s all about intent.
We need to stop worrying about the landing page title exactly matching what the user is searching for and more about what they actually see when they arrive.
There are several things to consider when creating a good landing page:
- What device is the user on.
- How much “white space” (or unnecessary space) is on the page.
- Whether there is a clear call-to-action (CTA) before the user has to scroll.
- How many clicks does a user need to solve his problem.
- How fast the site loads.
The list can go on and on if you get the drift.
The point is, your landing page experience needs to be of consistent quality in order to improve your ad ranking.
So much so that Google has adopted landing page experience in its Quality Score metric!
By putting legal work now on your landing pages, results will show over time.
When it comes to improving ad rank, are you more willing to fiddle with bids and budgets?
If this is your preferred strategy, I encourage you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture for your campaigns.
There are many factors you can influence your ads to change the ad rank scale, all without spending more on campaign budgets.
- Optimize your ad copy to align with the user’s search intent.
- Increase the CTR of your ad with powerful and relevant ad extensions.
- Focus on optimizing your landing page experience for higher conversion rates.
Once you have these parts worked out, you can then get comfortable with changing bids and budgets to take control of the top search placement.
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