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To begin with, let's talk in general terms about the importance of rankings or the positioning of your ad on the page. As you would guess, generally speaking, a higher ranking is better. Just to nuance that a bit it's somewhat dependent on the device on which the ad is being viewed. Let me explain. When Google's search page is being viewed on a PC the first position is probably not something you want to aspire to. It's very expensive to obtain and, for most people, not worth the expense. The 2nd or 3rd position would be fine for a particular keyword and there's some research that indicates people avoid clicking on the first ad.
The story changes when we're talking mobile. On a mobile device anything past the first or second position is not worth having. So given these considerations we need to manage for positioning relative to the device.
Let's talk briefly about how Google describes Ad position. I'll use Google's own words and use it as a framework to illustrate how we evaluate your PPC ad campaigns.
Google says your
Ad position is determined by a formula called Ad Rank” that gives your ad a score based on your bid (what you're willing to pay for a click), the quality of your ads and landing page, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.
So this gives a framework for evaluating you ad campaign. Firstly it's based on your bid (what you're willing to pay for a click) so we know this is something that needs to be managed. The trick is to pay the optimal amount to get the position you want.
Google goes on to say that
… even if your competition bids more than you, you can still win a higher position – at a lower price – with highly relevant keywords and high quality ads.
So part of our evaluation is around the use of keywords in the headline and the description.
Note Google's reference to the quality of your landing page. Every ad is defined with a link and it matters to Google what happens when someone clicks on that link. As it turns out, this is one of the areas where mistakes are the most common. Sometimes these links go through to the main page or home page of the advertiser's website. This is not recommended as you would ideally want to present your visitor with something more engaging. Rather than your homepage it would be better to provide a landing page that presents an offer or provides some other way for you to get a return on your advertising investment.
Keep in mind that Google is also looking, not only at the destination, but quality when evaluating landing pages. Minimally the landing page needs to be relevant to the keywords used in the ad. It goes without saying that Google has an automated process for evaluating the quality of that link destination or landing page.
Google also says
Ad position is also influenced by the expected impact from ad extensions and other ad formats, such as sitelinks.
When Google says "expected impact' they're referring to the user experience. Obviously they want ads to be relevant and useful to people so they give a better position to ads that give better value.
So in our analysis of your ads we look for the use of ad extensions such as business contact details and sitelinks. Of course there are tradeoffs – sitelinks for example are, by definition, clickable so there's additional charges involved when someone clicks through. Finding the right balance is what needs to be managed.
That's a high-level overview of some of things we evaluate to determine if your ads are constructed optimally.