Ad Rank: What Everyone Ought To Know About The Jungle In Adwords
Ever heard of the alpha male?
It’s a term used to describe the dominant male among animals that live in groups. Usually the alpha male has special privileges like eating first, drinking first, being the first to mate or even the ONLY one to mate.
Wikipedia refers the alpha male as being the animal with the highest RANK.
What does this have to do with AdWords?
Well, remember how Google ranks ads on search results… Using a mesure called Ad Rank.
Ads with high Ad Rank take high positions while ads with lower Ad rank sink at the bottom.
But that’s just half the story and like social animals, Alpha Advertisers (advertisers with ads of high Ad Rank) get benefits that their competitors don’t. If you can increase your Ad Rank, Google will be generous in terms of traffic, position and cost.
Ad Rank Formula
The formula is very simple…
Ad Rank = MaxCPC x Quality Score
… and very important to understand.
Anytime you change your bid (maxCPC), Ad Rank goes up or down. Every time your Quality Score (QS) changes, Ad Rank goes up or down. Every time Ad Rank goes up or down, your ads get preferential treatment… or not.
Where To Find Your Ad Rank
Well, you can’t find it. We know that Ad Rank exists but there’s no place in adwords where you can see exactly what ad rank each of your ad is receiving. However, it is possible for you to find out exactly what you’re missing out with a low Ad Rank using the Impression Share metric.
Impression Share is the percentage of the times your ads where shown out of the times they were eligible to be shown. By customizing the columns in your Adwords account, at the campaign level, you can see how much impression share your ads have lost due to a lower Ad Rank. That’s one way to tell if you have great Ad Rank or not.
How To Get Higher Ad Rank And Dominate The Jungle
In order to have high Ad Rank, you need the ability to bid high and get high Quality Scores. It’s important to have both and it can be a challenge to obtain them. Although you can work your way up with high QS, it will be much easier and more profitable if you can afford bidding high as well. Let’s get into more details…
Jungle Rule 1: Earn The Ability To Bid Higher
It’s all about your conversion rate. Every time you increase your conversion rate, you increase your ability to bid high. In fact, you should figure out the bid that yields maximum profitability for your business (yes, there is one) with every conversion rate you achieve.
How to have better conversion rates?
The offer. The copy. The design.
Those are my personal ingredients to high conversions… in that order.
The offer is by far the most important component and it impacts everything else you do. To have the best offer, you need to know what your potential customers actually want. This is important and most people assume they know and fail to take the extra effort to “really” find out. If you’re interested in having a method to discovering what customers want, I always recommend The Perfection Of Marketing by James Connor, a book that I think every business owner/marketer should own.
Once you know what your prospects want, you need to know how to convey it with powerful copywriting. Spend time crafting a message that resonates with your target market in simple words.
Then comes the design. Crappy won’t do it (most of the times). Though some great copy writers can pull it off with crappy web design, you should leverage every tool at your disposal. A clear, clean and simple design wins. And by the way, simple and clear is usually better than beautiful.
Jungle Rule 2: Get The Highest Quality Scores
Ah, that little number we love to hate loving over at Tenscores.com. Are you still wondering how to increase Quality Score? Can’t blame you. There seem to be a conspiracy around the web to put people on the wrong track at every turn.
I wonder who started it…
Here’s the ONLY thing you need to know about QS and it’s not complicated:
If you have low QS… unless the diagnostic bubble tells you otherwise, Quality Score EQUALS click-through rates. Nothing else.
Let me explain.
The diagnostic bubble is that little place besides keywords that give you some indication about why you have low scores. Take a look at the screenshot on the lower right.
The “keyword relevance” part is key. What they really mean is keyword click-through-rate (CTR). So, unless that bubble tells you of landing page problems or load time problems, all you have to focus on is CTR. That’s it. The tricky part is, the CTR is not necessarily yours, it is sometimes other advertiser’s CTR. But even that is no big deal if you focus on increasing your own CTRs continuously (without sacrificing conversion rates of course).
So unless things change, as of today, November 2011, there’s no such thing as semantic relevance in calculations of quality score. And if there is any at all, it is small enough to simply dismiss it. Since the day I stopped worrying whether my landing page was relelvant or wether my ad had keywords in it and simply sharpened my ad-writing skills for higher CTRs, quality score has become the least of my challenges. All that Google cares about in regards to QS is CTR. Thanks to Craig Danuloff for confirming this in his book on quality: Quality Score In High Resolution. Anyone who wishes to disagree should read that book in its entirety first.
So please, will you give more attention to your Adwords ads CTR?! I beg you, for the sake of your business.
And here’s where the circle is closed: the best way to get higher CTR is to figure out what searchers want and give it to them. Just like increasing conversions.
Once you can afford bidding high because your conversion rates and profit margins are so good and you understand quality score well enough to increase it, the snow ball starts to roll, your ads get more exposure, you get more traffic to your website, your costs are reduced and you become an Alpha Advertiser.
Don’t wait any longer… rule your jungle!
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