How Can I Get My Ads to Show Above the Natural Results

It used to be that Google would show Adwords only on the right side of the screen. There would be a maximum of eight ads for each page. Then, they started to show between one and three ads above the SERPs. There still are a maximum of eight ads on the right-hand side.

The question is more what makes sponsored results appear above the SERPs? Or as many call it, in the yellow boxed portion at the top and left of the screen.

There are two main conditions. Obviously you need to rank in the top three positions but you also need a minimum quality score. I believe this to be a score of seven. If your QS is below, even bidding high enough to get you to the top will not get you there.

There is not a minimum number of advertisers needed. In other words, you could have only four advertisers being served and up to three could still make it above the SERPs. Indeed, there could be only three advertisers and all three making it above the SERPs.

If no advertiser meets all the requirements, it is possible to see no ad above the SERPs. It is also possible to see only one or two. Three is currently the maximum but that could change in the future (I’ve seen Yahoo with four.)

My Account is a Mess. Should I Open Another Account?

First, Google’s TOS (Terms of Service) states that they do not allow you to
have more than one account. That rule needs to be explained further
however. If you have two or more accounts with the purpose of trying to
dominate the sponsored searches (called double serving) so that those
who click end up on sites that are duplicates of each other, that is definitely
not allowed. In fact, you are likely to be found out and permanently banned.

If however, you have two accounts but they are used for two sites selling vastly different things, there is no problem at all. However, there really is no reason to have separate accounts for separate sites. You can do all your advertising for all sites from one account.

As for the specific question, one type of “mess” you hear is that if your QS is low, there is no way out and you must start from scratch. There is NO “mess” that cannot be fixed. Quality Score is low? It can be improved and quite rapidly too with some effort.

Another similar theme that some suggest is that you have to dump your domain and get a new one. Somehow, they believe that the domain is cursed. There are some instances of domains being what is called slapped. This slapping is actually a flagging of the domain for doing things Google considers detrimental to its users, such as installing malicious software. Google doesn’t index that domain for organic rankings and doesn’t allow advertising to it as well.

I’m assuming none of you are malicious. A low QS very likely has nothing to do with being slapped for the above. It is simply because you are not doing things right. No need to get a new domain or new account. Simply fix the problem.

What is really amazing is that those who cling to this messy account myth suggest copying the account to another and copying the domain to a new one. Without making any sort of change. They expect that the Adwords routines will somehow disregard the way it calculated their score before. If you simply copy, you will get the same results. Guaranteed. Searchers are not any more likely to click the same ad now when they didn’t before.

What is the Average CTR on Adwords?

What is the Average CTR on Adwords? What is the Average CPC? Is a CTR of x% Good or Bad?

For some reason, lots of people ask these questions. I can only assume they are asking to figure out what they should do with their campaign. As explained, use the QS to determine how good or bad your click rate is, assuming you have relevancy.

I’m the Only Advertiser for This Keyword. Why Is There Still a Minimum and Why Don’t I Get a QS of 10?

First of all, you don’t know if there are other advertisers for that keyword or not. You may not see them for a variety of reasons, some of them I’ve pointed out earlier. There may be seasonal effects that others know about and why you didn’t see ads. Their budget for the day may already be depleted. They may show ads only on certain days or only during certain times of the day. Some may simply not be advertising for that keyword at this moment. Some may not be advertising in your area, doing so only in certain countries for example or even a specific city. If I advertise only in New York, you will not see my ad if you are in Miami.

So never assume you are the only advertiser for that keyword, no matter what you see when searching for it on Google.

Even if that were so, as seen in the Quality Score sections above, Google will not give you a perfect ten just because you may be the only advertiser at this moment. There is historical data they take into account. You also may not have good keyword relevancy which will drop your QS.

Minimum First Page Bids

You can bid any amount you wish on a keyword, all the way down to one cent. In the past, Google calculated a minimum bid for each keyword. If you placed a bid below that value, your ads simply would not be served at all. Since September 2008, the minimum bid requirement has been removed. You may now see next to your keyword “Below first page bid” with a minimum bid estimate.

Your ads may still be shown on the first page if you don’t meet this bid. After all, as mentioned, conditions change all the time. For example, advertisers pausing their ads, changing their bids, advertising only at certain times or having exhausted their budget or simply because their QS is decreased. Searchers may also go beyond the first page and if your ad ranks there, searchers will be exposed to your ad.

So in effect, you are not being asked to bid a minimum. The system is just letting you know that you may not be on the first page where you will maximize your exposure. It simply is a warning.

The bid amount is based on what the last advertiser’s ad rank calculation and your own ad rank, in other words your QS and bid. Suppose that there are eight advertisers on the first page and that the last one bids $0.50 with a CTR of 4% (I’ll use CTR instead of QS for simplicity). That gives him an ad rank of 200.

On the other hand, you are bidding $0.75 with a CTR of 2% which is an ad rank of 150. In order for you to overtake him and place on the first page, you would have to have an ad rank of 201 or, at the same click rate, bid $1. But if you increased your CTR to 3%, your bid would only have to be $0.67 to make it on the first page. Continue reading

How Bids and QS Affect Rankings and Costs

Obviously, any change in the system affects not only you but other advertisers as well. In fact, since CTRs change for each search, the system is in a constant state of flux. And this assumes the same number of advertisers at all times. In reality, new advertisers come, others leave, not to mention that not all advertise at all times. Some pause their campaigns on certain days of the week or even the time of day. Some have exhausted their daily budget. All this affects your rank and your costs and I haven’t even mentioned those who adjust their bids frequently.

Here are five advertisers. I’ve used one decimal point for the QS to illustrate, the price they pay is rounded to the nearest penny, just as Google does:

Advertiser Bid QS Ad Rank Pays
A1 $0.30 9.3 279 $0.23
A2 $0.28 7.5 210 $0.28
A3 $0.25 8.3 208 $0.23
A4 $0.25 7.6 190 $0.18
A5 $0.20 7.0 140 $0.20

If A3 increases his bid to $0.26, the following results (I’ve highlighted the changes in orange):

Advertiser Bid QS Ad Rank Pays
A1 $0.30 9.3 279 $0.23
A3 $0.26 8.3 216 $0.25
A2 $0.25 8.3 208 $0.25
A4 $0.25 7.6 190 $0.18
A5 $0.20 7.0 140 $0.20

A3′s payout went up by two cents. A1′s has remained the same but only because of similar ad rank between A2 and A3, while A2 has lost a position and paying three cents less because now he’s competing with A4. Now, instead of increasing his bid, A3 creates an ad with better CTR which increases his QS to 8.8 while leaving his bid at 25 cents, you get the following:

Advertiser Bid QS Ad Rank Pays
A1 $0.30 9.3 279 $0.24
A3 $0.25 8.8 220 $0.24
A2 $0.28 8.3 208 $0.25
A4 $0.25 7.6 190 $0.18
A5 $0.20 7.0 140 $0.20

That causes A3 to move up one position as it did when he simply increased his bid. He again affects A1′s payout but this time it is more pronounced. A1 pays one more cent than before. A1′s own payout increases by one cent instead of the two if he simply increases his bid. He therefore saves one penny by having a better ad. A2 has lost a position but paying three cents less.

A change of QS will have an effect on your payout but not as large as changing your bid. The moral is, always try to improve your ads for a better

Lesson 1 – PPC and Adwords Theory

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