Anyone who’s ever performed a Google search is used to seeing Google ads turn up as part of the search engine results page (SERP).
But have you ever wondered how exactly Google determines the order in which to show you those ads?
It’s not as random (or as simple) as it might seem at first glance.
Google assigns a position to each ad according to a formula called ad rank. Not only is your rank determined by a variety of different factors, but it’s very possible to improve it over time.
Here’s a closer look at everything you need to know to better understand your ad rank score, as well as some expert tips for improving yours.
What is Ad Rank?
In the digital marketing world, the concept of ad rank is reasonably straightforward, referring to the specific position an ad holds on a given SERP (if it shows up at all).
The first ad to show up has the rank of one, the second of two, and so forth.
Each position is determined via an auction.
However, while bidding amount factors into where a particular ad will fall in the presented order, the top-ranked ad is not necessarily the one attached to the highest bidder.
Ad rank isn’t the only factor that determines how many clicks your ad may receive, but it is an important one all the same.
As with search results in general, higher positions do typically receive the most clicks, so it’s worth developing an understanding of how the rankings are calculated so you can build a strategy for improving yours.
What is the Formula for Calculating Ad Rank?
Although no one but Google knows the precise formula used to calculate ad rank, many of the factors that go into the process are known. They include:
How well does your ad copy fit the keyword you’re bidding on?
How original, helpful, navigable, and informative is your landing page?
How well does it deliver on the experience suggested by your ad copy?
Expected CTR (Click-Through Rate)
Google determines this factor by weighing how well the keyword you chose typically performs to estimate how likely it is that searchers will click on your ad.
What is the max CPC (cost-per-click) you’re willing to pay for your ad?
Again, while Google will often favor higher CPCs, they’re not all that matters regarding ad rank.
How Can You Make Your Ad Stand Out?
There’s no foolproof formula out there for crafting an ad that yields terrific ad rank results.
However, that’s part of the beauty of advertising — plenty of room for creativity and innovation.
Truly great ads do more than improve a company’s bottom line. They have the power to help that company achieve other goals as well (e.g., building a solid brand identity).
Here are some tips for nailing yours.
Consider User Intent
Many advertisers rely on dynamic keyword insertion to maximize their results, making it easy to forget what their target audience is looking for.
As a result, many of their ads wind up saying the same old thing and blending into one another.
Help your ad stand out in the crowd by prioritizing your customer’s end goal.
- What problems, hopes, and fears do your personas have?
- How can your company meet any associated needs?
- What sets your products and services apart from everyone else’s?
Stay Concise and Relevant
Not all search engine users click on ads, but those who do are generally looking for something specific.
For example, they’re less likely to search broad terms like “health insurance” and more likely to be looking for “self-employed health insurance options”.
Make sure your copy not only sticks to the point but matches the exact queries your ideal customers are likely to make.
You’ll also want to make sure your landing page URL is specific, so your customer knows they’ve found what they need.
Speak Your Customer’s Language
Regardless of your industry, your job is to provide a product, service, or experience your customers are looking for.
Keep in mind that they’re likely not industry experts while you are. Therefore, the language you use to communicate with your target audience matters.
Learn to speak your customer’s language and communicate using terms they understand.
Pay special attention to tone, voice, and delivery. Avoid overwhelming them with too much tech talk and industry jargon.
Instead, try getting into their heads and talking the way that they think.
Include a Call to Action
Adding a compelling call-to-action (CTA) to your ad helps nudge your customer in the right direction.
Spell out what you want them to do, and clarify precisely what they’ll get if they follow through with that action.
Consider including the price of your product or service in your ad, as well.
Again, be specific and concise. Address your customer directly, and use clear language that urges a customer to take decisive, immediate action.
Why is Your Ad Rank Low?
If your ad rank is low, there’s a high likelihood it won’t actually show up for your targeted keywords.
If this is the case for your ad, you’ll see a warning message on your Google Ads account that tells you as much.
Here are some possible explanations for a low ranking:
The easiest way to raise your ad rank is to increase your bid, which naturally also increases costs.
For that reason, address any quality issues first. Then gradually raise your bid accordingly.
Make sure your ads are relevant for all of your associated queries.
You’ll also want to make sure you’ve created at least three ads per ad group for best results.
If the average click-through rate for a particular keyword is 3 percent and yours is only 1.5 percent, your CTR is below average.
One of the most common reasons for a lagging CTR is irrelevancy. Another is disorganization.
Always organize ad groups according to theme to improve your user’s overall experience.
Poor Landing Page Experience
A high-ranking ad that performs as it should is only partially about the quality of the ad.
It’s also about the experience offered by your landing page. If yours needs improvement, it will almost certainly hurt your ad rank.
You can check for this possibility by viewing your quality score.
How Can You Fix a Low Ad Rank?
Ad rank and user experience go hand in hand, so focusing on quality is rule number one when you’re looking to improve your ad rank.
Here are some tips for doing precisely that.
1. Work on your landing page
If your landing page offers a subpar user experience, your ad rank will continue to suffer, even if your ads are impeccably written.
Make sure you’re doing everything you can to improve your site and boost your quality score.
- How SEO-friendly is your website?
- Do your website’s meta tags contain your main keywords?
- Is your site searchable?
- Is your layout clean, simple, and easy to navigate?
- Is your website fast and easy to navigate on multiple devices?
- Do you listen to and act on feedback from your visitors?
2. Review URL relevancy
If you’ve ever clicked on a search result only to get something other than what you were promised, then you know how frustrating it can be.
Relevancy and reliability are critical when it comes to ad performance and ad rank.
The better your ads fit the precise experience your landing page delivers, the better. Make sure you’re not misleading potential visitors on either level.
Work on making your ad groups more specific, as well. The more specific and targeted your ad groups, the more likely it is that your individual ads will reach your intended audience.
3. Polish your ad copy
Ads literally don’t leave any room for error, so make sure you’re making the most of the limited space you have to work with.
Yes, word choice is a big part of that, but so are the nuts and bolts of excellent writing.
Steer clear of wording or stylistic choices that could seem gimmicky — no wild spelling, random capitalization, or cheesy spelling choices.
Watch out for excessive punctuation, as well. A poorly-written ad can quickly erode a potential customer’s trust in what you’re advertising.
4. Make sure you’re using negative keywords
While you definitely want to make sure you’re ranking for the right keywords, you’ll also want to make sure you’re not ranking for the wrong ones.
Irrelevant clicks can frustrate potential visitors and damage your ad rank. They also hurt your return on your investment (ROI).
Cut down on the likelihood of irrelevant search returns and clicks by including negative keywords in your campaign.
Negative keywords allow you to block your ad from appearing in searches you don’t intend.
Wrap Up: Ranking High Requires Dedication
Successful efforts to improve your ad rank are all about making sure all the details are well-covered.
Of course, your ads need to be well-crafted, concise, and relevant to your landing page.
But the content your would-be customers find waiting for them once you win their clicks is critical, as well. Otherwise, you’re looking at a poor user experience and high bounce rates.
High-quality interactive content experiences can help boost user experience, optimize your conversion rates, and raise your ad rank.
Are you ready to take your customers’ experience to the next level? Speak with an expert today about increasing your ad performance with interactive content today!