Understanding How Google Ranks Ads – Search Network

There are several factors that determine where Google places your ad when you are bidding on keywords in Google Adwords.  These factors are all added together to come up with, as Google calls it, your Ad Rank Score.  Some factors have more weight than other factors, but every single one of them is important in making sure you get the best possible ad position for your ad.

In this article I’ll discuss the factors that determine your ad position when you are bidding on keywords on the search network of Google Adwords.

In the next post I write, I’ll discuss the factors that determine your ad position when bidding on keywords on the content network of Google Adwords.

The formula for Ad Rank is pretty simple…

Ad Rank Formula = Max CPC Bid x Quality Score

Most of you know what Max CPC bid, it’s just the maximum you are willing to spend per click and is a number you set in your Adwords account on either an ad group level, or if your smart on a per keyword level.  It’s the biggest factor determining in what position your ad will appear within the search results Sponsored Links section.

This means that you can’t bid .10 cents on a keyword like auto insurance even if you have the best quality score possible and expect to show up in position one… it just isn’t gonna happen…

Moving on, so what affects your quality score?

The quality score you receive is based on a number of factors, however, once again there is one major factor that tends to be the most important.  That is your CTR (click through rate) of your ad.  The higher your click through rate, the higher your quality score.  The reason for this is because Google is out to make money…I know…shocker…right?

The only way that Google makes money is when someone clicks on your ad.  If you write an ad and Google shows it yet no one ever clicks on it, then they make nothing.  So naturally Google desires for you to have the highest CTR that you can, which also benefits you!  It means more traffic for you, and more money for Google as their being paid per click and the higher your CTR the more clicks you are getting for the same amount of impressions.

So the two biggest factors is your Max CPC (Max Bid) and Ad CTR (click through rate), however, what happens when you have a competitive bid price and a great Ad CTR but yet you still just can’t seem to beat that one competitor that is outranking you?

Well, there are several other factors that Google uses to determine your quality score, and while they may not give you as big of a boast as having a high CTR would give you, they can still help you tremendously.

  • Your Account History – Not only does Google care about your CTR that you are currently getting on a campaign, but they also take in to account the overall CTR that you’ve received for all your campaigns, ads, and keywords.  The better CTR you have long term, the strong your account becomes.
  • Ads Relevant to Keywords? – Google also takes in to account how well related your ads are to your keywords.  If your writing ads about selling a dog training ebook, yet your keywords are on ringtones, that will lower your quality score.
  • Ads & Keywords Relevant to Landing Page? – Another factor that will affect your quality score is whether or not your ads and keywords are relevant to your landing page.  Again, if you are bidding on keywords and writing ads on things that aren’t related to the actual product or service you are promoting, it will negatively affect your quality score!

There are several other factors that will affect your quality score, however, the ones listed above are the ones that I’ve found to affect your quality score the most.

While Google doesn’t show the actual quality score you have, they do now give a number 1-10 to help you see how a keyword is ranking quality score wise.  You can see this quality score by going to an ad group and looking at the keywords and turning it on by click the show/hide columns button and selecting it.

In the next post I write, I’ll discuss what factors determine your quality score when bidding on keywords on the Content Network, so make sure you subscribe to my feed if you haven’t yet to make sure you get an update when the next one is posted.

UpdateUnderstanding How Google Ranks Ads on the Content Network

Easily Find Out What Sites Your Ads Are Showing Up For On The Content Network

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the content network and how if you weren’t using it, you are missing out on a ton of potentially great (and cheap) traffic.

A question I received a lot after writing that blog post was how you could tell what sites your ads were showing up on while running on the content network.  The reason so many people are curious about this, is because if there is a certain site that your ad is showing up like crazy on, yet you aren’t receiving any conversions, it will suck your account dry!

Now personally, I only mess with the content network with Google, so I’m only familiar with how to get to it from within their interface, however, I’m sure the basic procedure is the same on most networks if they offer the feature.

First, you need to log in to your Google Adwords account.  After you have logged in, you need to click on the Reporting Tab, then click on Reports.

Adwords Account Reporting Tab

Next, click on Create a New Report.

Create a New Report - Google Adwords

Going off subject for a minute, this next screen will allow you to select from a ton of a different reports that you can run, each on has a small description as to the info you’ll receive.  I’d definitely recommend checking out some of the other reports, but since this post is specifically about finding sites your ads are running on when using the content network, lets move on…

If you scroll down just a touch, you’ll notice that one of the radio buttons says Placement Performance.  Click on the radio button next to Placement Performance.

Report Type - Placement Report - Google Adwords

There are a ton of options now that you can select like level of detail, date range, etc.  Pretty self explanatory stuff, so I won’t go in to detail on all the settings.  If you want more details on all the different settings and stuff you can visit Google’s page about Placement Performance Report Help.

Once you finish editing the settings, you’ll come to the last section which is called Templates, Scheduling, and Email.  This place simply allows you to name your report, save the report as a template for running it again later, setting the report to run automatically every so often, etc.

Once you finish that last section, click on Create Report and voila your done!

Create Report Button - Google Adwords

After you click on Create Report, it will take you back to the Reports Tab Section within your account.  If can take several minutes for your report to be processed.  You can either wait or feel free to move around your account till it’s finished.  It won’t affect it if you leave the page.

After it’s finished the name of the report (whatever you named it in the last section) will become a link and you simply click on the link and you’ll see all the domains/urls that your ads have appeared on.

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Google Adwords To Tweak Quality Score Metrics

As most of you know, Google changes from time to time the way their quality score affects your Adwords account and quite frankly they do it so much that i just never feel like posting about it because if you were a smart affiliate, you’d already be following the Google Adwords Blog, however, since I know there are people out there that don’t and this seemed like something that I thought was actually newsworthy.  I decided to do a quick little post about it explaining the changes.

There are two changes that are being talked about, the first one being…

Ad Position CTR being MORE precise.

More precise Quality Score calculation
Clickthrough rate (CTR) is the most significant component of Quality Score because it directly indicates which ads are most relevant to our searchers. As you probably have observed, ads in high positions typically earn better CTR than those in low positions, because ads in high positions are more visible to searchers. To calculate the most accurate Quality Scores, it’s important that the influence of ad position on CTR be taken into account and removed from the Quality Score.

CTR (Click thru Rate) plays a big factor in your quality score when it comes to PPC companies.  In fact, I believe it’s one of the most important things.  Also, you’ve probably noticed that the higher your ad position the higher your CTR…I know rocket science right???

Well, Google knows this as well and so they judge if your CTR is good enough or not based on what ad position you are in…They have improved this they are saying which will give us more precise calculations.  They are saying this will now allow for more fairness in their quality scores.

The second change will allow for more ads to appear above the Organic Search Results!

Higher quality ads above the search results
We’re also improving the way we determine which ads show in the yellow region above the search results. These positions are particularly valuable to advertisers because they are prominently positioned on the page. Given their prominence, it’s especially important that these ads be high quality; we therefore place extra emphasis on quality when determining which ads to show in this location.

To appear above the search results, ads must meet a certain quality threshold. In the past, if the ad with the highest Ad Rank did not meet the quality threshold, we may not have shown any ads above the search results. With this update, we’ll allow an ad that meets the quality threshold to appear above the search results even if it has to jump over other ads to do so. For instance, suppose the ad in position 1 on the right side of the page doesn’t have a high enough Quality Score to appear above the search results, but the ad in position 2 does. It’s now possible for the number 2 ad to jump over the number 1 ad and appear above the search results. This change ensures that quality plays an even more important role in determining the ads that show in those prominent positions.

Currently in order for an ad to appear above the Organic Search Results it must be ranked the highest and meet a certain quality score, however, now Google will be allowing ads with just a high enough quality score to jump over ads if it has to in order to appear above Organic Search Results instead of only on the right side of the page.  So in essence, ad 2 could now jump over ad 1 if ad two met the quality score requirements.

Honestly, I believe this is simply being done so that Google can earn more revenue and profits by giving more ads a shot a being displayed and clicked on.  I believe this is why they are going to allow more ads to appear above Organic Search Results.  I also don’t believe that the normal affiliate will see a huge change as many seem to think they will…I think this will only benefit top affiliates in top positions and I’m not even sure if it will benefit them!

I’ve never had much lucking being placed above Organic Search Results…I always seem to get a lot of “blind” clicks.

How to Direct Link and Still Receive a Great Quality Score!

This post is a trick I’ve picked up and I’m going to be completely honest, I did NOT discover this trick or tip, and I can’t remember who I heard it from in order to give them credit, but what I can say is that I’ve personally tried this technique out and it has yielded excellent results thus far.

So what exactly am I talking about?  I’m talking about a technique that allows you to direct link to an affiliate offer yet receive the quality score that a major authority site in the niche you’re competing in would get!

It’s so easy you’ll kick yourself for not thinking of it, as I know I did when someone told me about this technique.  Anyways, without further adieu…

Most people recognize this screen inside Adwords.  It’s the screen where you enter in your ad details.  You enter in your Headline, Description 1 & 2, Display URL, and Destination URL.  You’ve probably used this very screen a million times by now!

So what is so special about it this time?  We’ll let me explain to you how this technique works now.  Your destination URL is the URL in which Google uses to give you a quality score.  Depending on how well the site is and how relevant it is to the niche the greater the quality score you’ll receive which allows you to receive lower bids yet also get your ads into the top spots for those lower bids.

In this technique what we are doing is simply changing the destination URL and display URL to that of a major company inside the niche.  For example, sticking with our auto insurance example that you see in the picture above, we would change our links to point to Allstate, StateFarm, Geico, etc.  Any of those sites will work.

So of course, the question is now…why would I want to send free traffic to any of these sites?  We’ll the answer is, you don’t!  After you setup your ads, you should have two of them per adgroup for split testing, you’ll then go your keywords that are inside that adgroup.  You’ll see an edit button to the right of the keyword, click it! (see in picture below, the link is purple)

After you click on the edit link for a keyword you’ll come to a screen that looks something like this…

If you notice, for the keyword you can change the Destination URL for just that particular keyword.  So what this means is that even if your ads point to Geico, Allstate, or whoever…if someone does a search and this keyword is triggered, it will override the Ad’s Destination URL and inside use the Destination URL that is listed for that individual keyword.

What this means is that you can link to a site like Geico, Allstate, etc and get the quality score that that site would get and then simply have all your keywords destination URLs point to your real landing page or direct link to the offer!

Of course this would mean a heck of a lot of work going though each keyword clicking the edit link and changing the URL…

Thank God for Adwords Editor!

Google Hates Slow Loading Landing Pages

Understanding Google Adwords Quality ScoreIf you’re anything like myself, you probably pay very close attention to your quality score and are constantly working on improving it when your doing PPC with Google Adwords. Although, sometimes I think we fail to realize that Google’s Quality Score system changes over time and they require more and more things to get a great quality score.

Today, I wanted to bring to your attention one of those such things. Starting sometime around the middle of June of 2008, Adwords will be incorporating landing page load times into their quality score as a factor. Here is the except regarding this taken from the Adwords Blog.

In early March, we announced that we’d soon incorporate an additional factor into Quality Score, namely landing page load time — where load time is defined as the amount of time it takes for a user to see the landing page after clicking an ad. Now, we’d like to post with an update.

Starting today, load time evaluations will be displayed on the Keyword Analysis page, for your review. We suggest taking some time to evaluate and understand this information because, starting mid-June, landing page load time will be incorporated into your Quality Score.

So, if your landing page currently loads a little slow, you may want to start working on improving that before the middle of June hits and you take a hit in your quality score. Personally, I don’t feel this will any major factor in their quality score, but as most PPC affiliate marketers know, even the littlest boast or drop can make or break a campaign!