Understanding Google Ad Positions and Bids [infographic]

Understanding what goes on behind the scenes as Google works out where to put your ads on the search results is a really important part of running a successful Adwords campaign.

Everyone wants (or should want!) to get the best traffic at the lowest price. This means you get maximum traffic for your budget, and more importantly maximum conversions – so long as it is the best traffic.

Below are two VERY handy infographics created by TrustPilot that explain the Adwords Auction in the simplest way I’ve found yet…

How your Ad Position is Decided

how ad position is determined

The first part of the auction works out where your ad should appear on the search results page.

NOTE: this auction is run again for every search term someone enters, relevant to every relevant keyword in your account. So it is constantly changing.

It’s a simple calculation of the maximum cost per click (or bid) that you’ve set and the Quality Score as determined by Google.

With the above diagram it’s easy to see that if your bid is too low you might not be seen; and if your quality score is bad then you might not be seen either.

Bids you are in complete control of, but the Quality Score – less so (more on Quality Score below!)

How Google works out how much you pay for the Position

Where your ad appears is only half the story, Google is also assessing how much you should have to pay for that position.

Yes, it is not the person who pays the most whose ad appears at the top…

How much you pay for your Google Ad

Now Google has worked out where all the advertisers are going to appear they work out how much each advertiser deserves to pay if they are clicked on.

For this they divide the Ad Rank of the person below you by your Quality Score and a penny.

Again the better your Quality Score, the better it is for your business – because it means you’re paying less than you otherwise would.

As Quality Score is so important, how can I improve mine?

A better Quality Score will get you a higher position, AND reduce your cost per click, so it’s really important to improve it.

Quality Score is assessed for every keyword in your account, and almost every setting and structure in your account influences it.

Roughly (very roughly) Quality Score can be thought of as an assessment of how well your Keyword matches your Adtext matches your Landing Page. So if you have the keyword “red purse” with adtext about ‘red purses’ linking to a page where you’re selling ‘red purses’ then you’ll get a good Quality Score. BUT if you have the keyword “red purse” with adtext that just talks about ‘purses’ and links to a page where you’re selling purses and wallets and bags – you’ll get a poor Quality Score.

Here’s my top tips for improving your Quality Score:

  • Group similar keywords together so it’s easy to match the right Adtext with the right keywords (so all your red purse keywords in one adgroup, and blue purse keywords in another)
  • Make sure your Adtext accurately reflects the keywords it represents (those in its Adgroup)
  • Check your Adtexts are linking to the best page for those keywords
  • Utilise the extra tools Google gives you to improve your Click Through Rate (CTR, another key part of your Quality Score) by making your Adtext more attractive to the searcher:
    • Reviews – can now be integrated automatically into every Adtext you have, and have a big impact on CTR and conversions.
      (see below the “4.3 stars….” line)
    • Site links – give more reasons for someone to click.
      (see below the “A4 paper…” line)
    • Social integration – provides proof you’re a bonafide company if you have a few followers. The more people trust you the more they will click.
      (see below the “Euroffice has 303…” line)

example adtext

Checking through all this is a big project – so start with your busiest / best adgroups, then fix the smaller ones later.

Let me know how you get on!