If you’ve ever managed a Google Ads campaign, you’ve likely confronted this common but frustrating situation: Your ad is ranking poorly, but your budget is too tight for higher bids. Even if you could just increase your budget, it’s important to remember that your ad’s rank isn’t entirely dependent on how much you’re able to bid. Money isn’t everything! With a few key insights and a little practice, you can learn how to improve Ad Rank without adding another cent to your bids.
What Is Ad Rank?
Before we explore how to improve Ad Rank, let’s take a moment to review what Ad Rank is exactly. According to Google, Ad Rank is “a value that’s used to determine your ad position (where ads are shown on a page relative to other ads) and whether your ads will show at all.” Basically, Ad Rank is the specific position of your ad on a paid search results page.
Although Google AdWords is basically an auction in which advertisers bid on individual keywords or ad groups, the highest bidder doesn’t always land the top spot. Because Google wants to provide a good experience for users, factors like ad quality and search query context are taken into account as well. This means that you could land the top Ad Rank while paying less than your competitors.
Google takes the following factors into account when calculating Ad Rank:
- The Bid Amount: Your maximum bid amount is the most you’re willing to pay Google for a single click on your ad.
- The Ad and Landing Page Quality: How relevant and useful is your ad and its accompanying landing page to your target audience? What is the expected clickthrough rate (CTR)?
- The Ad Rank Thresholds: The Ad Rank thresholds are the minimum thresholds your ad must reach to be eligible to compete in an ad auction. Google also sets a reserve price for keywords. So even if no ads appear immediately below your ad, it may be relatively pricey depending on its quality and AdRank thresholds.
- The Competition: How competitive is this auction? If your competition has high-quality ads, highly relevant landing pages, and high bids, you may need to step up your game.
- The Context of the Search Query: What is the searcher’s location? What type of device are they using? What time is it? What is the topic of the search and the nature of the search terms? Google takes many user signals and attributes into account.
- The Expected Impact of Ad Extensions and Ad Formats: Ad formats are visual enhancements to search ads. The most common type of ad format is an ad extension, which adds supplementary information to your ad, such as your business address, phone number, store rating, or more links to your website.
Your ad’s Ad Rank is not static. In fact, Google recalculates Ad Rank every time your ad is eligible to complete in an auction. So even if your bid amount stays the same, your ad’s position will fluctuate depending on numerous factors, such as your competition, the context of the search query, and even the time of day. Every search is unique.
How to Improve Ad Rank
Relevant, Useful, High-Quality Ads
What is the intent behind the user’s search query? What are they hoping to accomplish? What problem are they trying to solve? Every ad should consider the user’s intent to ensure that the ad text is relevant and useful. A user is far more likely to click on an ad if it addresses the exact thing they were hoping to accomplish. For example, let’s say you want to target a customer searching for “watercolor paints.” Your keyword should be “watercolor paints,” your ad text should include watercolor paints, and your landing page should focus on watercolor paints. If your ad text focuses on acrylic paints or colored pencils, the ad will lack relevancy. This means it will struggle to earn clicks and rank highly.
Relevant Ad Extensions
Are you sensing a theme here? Relevancy matters!
Don’t use ad extensions without a clear goal in mind. Google uses the “expected impact of extensions” to determine your ad’s relevance and likelihood of success, and this directly impacts Ad Rank. So, to ensure your ad engages searchers, only use relevant ad extensions. One way to do this is to use ad extensions that match your ad’s calls-to-action (CTAs). For example, if you say “Call Today,” include a call extension. If you say “Book an Appointment,” include a link to the booking page. If you say “Visit Our New Store,” include a location extension. Your ad extensions should enhance your offer and compel viewers to take action.
Very Specific Ad Groups
When organizing your ad groups, which consist of one or more ads with similar targets, consider the specificity. When someone searches for something online, they expect the results to reflect their exact search terms. If your ad groups are too broad, your ads might not achieve your CTR goals. Plus, low CTRs and poor ad relevance will impact your quality score, causing you to pay more money for higher rankings. You have a couple options when it comes to creating more specific ad groups:
- Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs): SKAGs break a single keyword down into three match types: modified broad, phrase, and exact. Although SKAGs require a lot of effort, they also have a strong track record.
- Dynamic Keyword Insertion (DKI): An Adwords feature, DKI adjusts ad text to reflect keywords in users’ search queries. A strong option for those with massive ad campaigns, DKI is easy and efficient. However, it’s typically not the best option for those with smaller ad campaigns.
High-Quality, Unique Landing Pages
Do your PPC ads and landing pages match? When a searcher clicks on a paid search ad, they expect the landing page to reflect the ad’s language. For example, a searcher will become frustrated (and rightfully so) if they click on an ad for “grain-free venison dog food” and end up on a page with hundreds of pet products – or on the company’s generic homepage. The landing page should correspond with the message of the ad in order to resonate with searchers. Not only can this improve your conversion rate, but also it can boost your Ad Rank.
Of course, creating a unique landing page for each ad group can be tiresome, tedious, and time-intensive. Depending on the size of your campaign, it could take months. While you don’t necessarily need a unique landing page for every ad, you should create a unique landing page for every important ad. Search Engine Journal recommends standardizing your landing page copy for each campaign so that you can customize the offer by editing small sections of text at scale. Then, on the back end, edit certain bits of your landing page templates (including the Alternative Page Title and Page Sub Header) to match your ad group and offer.
If you want to learn how to improve Ad Rank, bidding higher is always an option. But why spend more money if you don’t have to? By focusing on your ads’ relevancy and specificity, you can boost your Ad Rank without spending another cent.
If you’re hoping to build a beautiful, effective website that ranks highly on Google, contact 417 Marketing for help. Our team of knowledgeable, creative, and passionate professionals specializes in SEO, web design and maintenance, and Google AdWords, and we have successfully completed over 700 websites since our inception in 2010. Click here to contact us and learn more about what we can do for your company.