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

Stuck on Google Adwords?

stuck-on-googleFirst off, let me start off this post by saying that I love Google Adwords, it is by far the biggest single traffic source for all my affiliate marketing endeavors, however, it only accounts for about 45% of the traffic that my affiliates sites receive each month from all my traffic sources, and only about 35%-40% of my profit from all of these traffic sources come from Adwords!

Too many affiliates are focused way too intensely on Google and it isn’t even their fault!  It’s our fault!  The so-called gurus of affiliate marketing…  We push and push and push Google Adwords and we are always talking about them, we talk about how big they are, how they control ~80% of the search market, our latest Google slaps, and more!  It seems like there is always something to say about the giant we all call Google.  However, even though they are the biggest and are extremely important to your business as an affiliate marketer, for some people (like myself) they aren’t even where most of their money comes from!  If Google was to go bankrupt tomorrow (just go with me on this…) I would still be okay!  Would you?

Another interesting fact about Google, is that out of the three major search engines, Google, Yahoo, and Bing (Microsoft) they don’t even have the best traffic!  According to a post I was reading on TechCrunch, Bing users are twice as likely to click on an ad then Google users!

There are so many different companies and opportunities to drive traffic to your affiliate sites that it can literally drive you crazy trying to figure out all the ways!  Hopefully this post can give you a couple ideas that you may not have thought of and can help you break the curse of having all your eggs in one Google!

Search Engines Besides Google

There are several search engines besides Google.  The two most talked about after Google is Yahoo Search, and Microsoft Bing (formally known as live.com).  However, there are even more sites, now I must say that as you move away from the top three, things can get a little more tricky and requires a lot more patience, split testing, and time to get them right…and sometimes you never can get them to work for you!

Just to name a few of the other search engines that I’ve had success with in some niches are as follows…

  • Ask
  • 7Search
  • Looksmart

Ad Buys

Ad buys are basically when you do some searches in a search engine for terms relating to your niche, then you go to some of the top organic results and see if they offer advertising on their sites and buy direct from them instead of through a company.

There are plenty of benefits to ad buys, first off, you can typically get the advertisements very cheap and get some very decent traffic if you keep your eyes open and do enough digging!  Secondly, and this is purely from personal statisitics, but I’ve always had higher CTR’s and higher Conversion Rates when I do Ad Buys directly instead of using content networks to do it all.  Not saying that I don’t use the content networks and that they don’t bring in some niche bling! 😉

However, one of the big downfalls to Ad Buys is that it can take a lot of testing and money to find sites that actually produce results and it can take a ton of time doing it if you aren’t careful!  Although, it does become easier to spot good deals and websites the more you do it, so the time thing kinda pays off if you stick it out!

PPV (Pay Per View)

Another method that isn’t talked about as much, but can produce some great results is PPV aka Pay Per View.  Basically PPV is adaware, which means that the person that’s gonna see your ad, downloaded a program that was free that is supported by ads.  I could write a piece about this here, however, Bryn from Bryn.me did a great writeup about PPV and what it’s all about and he even listed some of the companies he uses.  Instead of just rehashing his stuff, or writing up my own long thing on this, I’ll instead point you to his post on pay per view advertising!

Article Marketing

Article Marketing is basically where you write articles that you end up submitting to article directories that either A.) include links to your affiliate offer directly or B.) links to an affiliate website you have promoting an offer.  The article you would write would be about the niche that you’re promoting an offer for, you’d stick in a couple of links to your affiliate site, and submit it to some article directories.  This is extremely popular with BANS (Build a Niche Store) sites, however, I’ve seen it work and I’ve personally used it with several other type of affiliate stuff!

Again, since I’m just trying to give you guys a quick description of all the possibilities out there, instead of talking too much on this one subject, I’ll point you to a post about article directories and article marketing from a friend of mine named Alan, from Affiliate Confessions.  Now, in this post he is using the example of a BANS store as I stated before, however as I said, I’ve seen article marketing used in a lot more ways then just for BANS stores.

Mobile Applications

One of the more recent ways we are seeing affiliate offers being promoted is by companies that create an application for a mobile phone like the Palm Pre, the iPhone, the HTC Touch, etc.  They are building applications around a certain niche, let’s say an application that has recipes for cooking and such and then they are promoting cookbook offers, learn to cook membership sites, etc…

This isn’t something that I’ve had time to fool with yet, however, I have two friends that have released free applications for mobile phones and they have both done fairly decent with doing so.  Do realize however that this is a much newer form of advertising affiliate offers, and there isn’t a ton of data out yet, so it’s a ton of trial and error, however, that’s almost always the perfect time to make it big with a new traffic source if you’re willing to put in the time, money investment, and have the knowledge to figure it all out!

Ending Statement

So, above are just a couple ways besides the normal traditional methods that I’m sure you’ve read about a hundred times and hopefully you’ll be able to use one of them to spark something new in your mind that can get you going in the right direction!  There are so many ways to advertise affiliates offers, and I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg, so make sure you keep looking for new opportunities and you’re sure to do fine in this industry!

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.

Are You a Global Affiliate?

A Green GlobeMost affiliates start promoting products and services in affiliate marketing, however, what they fail to realize is the United States isn’t the only market out there you can sell to! Most new affiliates don’t even work with companies or networks that involve marketing to a different country, however, today I would like to discuss two different countries you should be looking into if you’re not already!

1. Affiliate Marketing in the United Kingdom:

The United Kingdom is one of the countries that I see touched on quite a bit. I’ve seen several other affiliate recommend that if your not currently running any offers targeting the United Kingdom crowd, then you’re missing out on a great opportunity.

The cost of running offers on the PPC network’s in the UK is significantly lower than the prices you would pay for click for US offers.

There are over 15 million people in the UK with online access and out of these 15 million people, 84% has a high-speed internet connection.

2. Affiliate Marketing in Canada:

As I said above, the UK is a country that is talked about at least somewhat in the affiliate industry, however, when it comes to affiliate marketing and Canada, most of you have not read a thing on it I bet. This is the market I really wanted to touch on as there is a huge opportunity here and it may not last long so you need to get in while you can!

I read a report the other day in Search Marketing Standard that said,

The latest PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Entertainment and Media Outlook predicts that online ad spend will grow faster in Canada than anywhere else in the world over the next five years!

24 Million Canadians are currently online which is equivalent to 73% of the population of Canada! 85% of these households are running on a high-speed internet access.

Again, as with the UK, the prices you would pay for a click is massively lower than what you would pay targeting the same exact niche here in the United States. However, the CPC is even lower when targeting the Canadian market.


The opportunity is out there for you to create a killing if your willing to take the time to learn how each of these countries work. You’ll need to research which landing page colors work best, which ad types work best, how to funnel your visitors correctly, etc. The problem lies in the fact that these markets can be quite different from the United States, thus, leading to affiliate marketers never getting into them.

I would highly recommend that you take the time to learn these different markets and take the time to learn them well. You’ll thank me later for it!

Prosper202 FREE Self-Hosted PPC Keyword Tracking Software

Most of you have heard of Tracking202 from Wes Mahler.  It’s a service that’s completely free to use and allows you to track which keywords in your PPC campaigns are converting and which ones aren’t.  This allows you to bid higher on keywords that convert and get rid of keywords that don’t.  Sound pretty simple right?  We’ll believe it or not, most affiliates have a very hard time tracking keywords and most new affiliates don’t have the money for a paid tracking tool.

Also, most people don’t like that idea of sharing which keywords are converting with these companies that allow you to track for free.  For example, Google Adwords Pixel, Yahoo’s Pixel, and even Tracking202.  This is where Prosper202 comes into play.

Prosper202 is a free PPC keyword tracking application from Wes Mahler and his crew.  It’s the same people that created Tracking202 only this tool (Prosper202) allows you to host the application directly on your hosting account if your not willing or are feeling nervous about your keyword information being out there on someone else’s server.

You can visit their site for more information about the product and all of it’s features, as I’m only going to touch on a few of the products features.

  • Works with Every Single PPC Network Out There!
  • Cloaks Keywords from Advertisers and Affiliate Networks keeping them a secret!
  • Works with Landing Pages or With Direct Linking!

Again, it seems like a great tool, I’ve only been able to play around with it for a little while but I definitely think you should check out the service being provided by Prosper202 if your in need of a great keywords tracking application.

Also, just to give you guys a little recap and to give a little more insight on some of their other “202” tools they have available…

  • Tracking202 – PPC Keyword Tracking tool that is completely FREE of charge.  This application is hosted on their servers.  Good if you don’t have a server to put Prosper202 on and you wanting to use this program.
  • Prosper202 – Same thing as Tracking202 only you can use this version on your own server thus allowing you to keep all your secret ninja like stuff from getting into the wrong hands.
  • Export202 – Allows you to easily convert campaigns from one PPC campaign to another.  Currently works with Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, and MSN Adcenter.  Again this program like the other two is completely free to use.

Again, I think Wes Mahler and the team are doing a great job and I can’t wait to see what other tools they release under the “202” brand.