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Ad Rank: Lesser Known Essentials to Pay-Per-Click Marketing Success

You've dabbled in Pay-Per-Click by creating your text ad, setting your budget along with other general duties associated with creating your campaign on Google... Now you're seeing it live on Google Search. Pop the champagne, job well done.

But curb your alcoholism - how can you be certain about the performance of your ad or whether it will be shown at all? What position will it have on the results page? Will your campaign generate enough profit? Enter the ad auction – Google's way of deciding which ads will be shown and how they're positioned. Let's brief you on the ads auction system and the elements of Ad Rank and its importance when determining your ad quality and filling the overall picture to digital campaign success.

Google Ads auctions.

Google Ads uses an auction system to rank the ads that appear on the search results page and to determine the cost for each ad click. The order in which ads appear on the page is based on a calculation that we call Ad Rank.

First and foremost, Google users want ads that they see to be relevant. Users don't want to be bothered with ads that aren't closely related to what they're searching for. And advertisers want to show relevant ads so that users will actually click on them.

Google wants to provide a good experience for users and value to advertisers so that they come back and use our services again in the future. Let's review an example of what a real-time auction would look like.

Google uses a special version of a second-price auction that takes into account more than just bids – more on that later. In a standard second-price auction based only on bids, the advertiser doesn't have to pay their full bid. They only have to pay £0.01 more than the amount of the next-highest bidder.

Say we have four advertisers competing for space on the search results page, and they're willing to pay £4, £3, £2 and £1, respectively, for a user to click on their ad and visit their website.

So in this particular case, the first advertiser was bidding £4, but they'd only have to pay £3.01 – which is £0.01 above the bid of the second-highest advertiser. The same thing applies to the second advertiser, and to the third advertiser.

This design allows each advertiser to bid their true maximum willingness to pay for a click – but they only have to pay just enough to beat the competition.

What is Ad Rank?

Google Ads calculates Ad Rank for every ad in the auction. Ad Rank determines your ad position and whether your ads are eligible to be shown at all.

Generally speaking, the ad with the highest Ad Rank gets to be shown in the top position, the ad with the second-highest Ad Rank gets to be shown in the second position (assuming that the ads clear the relevant thresholds), and so on.

Elements of Ad Rank

Think of Ad Rank as having five essential factors to consider:

  1. Bid When you set your bid, you're telling Google Ads the maximum amount that you're willing to pay for a click on your ad. You often actually end up paying less, and you can change your bid at any time.

  2. Ad Rank threshold To help ensure high-quality ads, we set minimum quality thresholds that an ad must achieve to be shown in a particular ad position.

  3. Context of query With the ad auction, context matters. When calculating Ad Rank, we look at the search terms that the person has entered, the person's location at the time of the search, the type of device that they're using (e.g. mobile or desktop), the time of the search, the nature of the search terms, other ads and search results that are shown on the page and other user signals and attributes.

  4. Ad extensions impact When you create your ad, you have the option to add extra information to it, such as a phone number or more links to specific pages on your site. These are called ad extensions. Google Ads estimates how extensions and other ad formats that you use will impact your ad's performance.

  5. Auction-time ad quality Google Ads also looks at how relevant and useful your ad and the website that it links to are to the person who'll see it. Quality Score is an aggregated estimate of our assessment of the quality of your ad.

Ad Rank as part of successful PPC campaigns

Advertisers only pay when they actually receive a click on their ad; their order isn't just based on bids. This is because Google wants to show more useful ads in a higher position on the search results page.

There are 3 main factors that determine the position and usefulness of ads:

  • Expected click-through rate This is our prediction of how often an ad will be clicked on when it's shown. Across Google, we rely on user feedback to drive decision-making, and user click-through rates (CTRs) tell us what users respond to. By allowing users to vote with their clicks, we have millions of people who are helping us to decide which ads are best for each search query.

  • Ad landing page experience Users want ad landing pages that help them find what they're looking for. A highly relevant landing page yields a higher score. A high-quality landing page should have appropriate and original content that helps the user complete their task. It should be easily navigable and transparent about the nature of the business, how the site interacts with the user's computer and how it intends to use their personal information.

  • Ad Relevance Ad Relevance is a measure of how well an ad matches what the user is searching for, and it helps to make sure that only useful ads are shown. It also prevents businesses from simply paying their way onto a search that's unrelated to their product or service.

Often, the average cost per click (CPC) is not the price that you're paying for each of your clicks. Because the system is dynamic, the CPC can vary a lot from auction to auction and depends on a variety of factors, such as the context of each query. It's important to bear in mind that the average CPC is just an average – meaning that the price that you pay could be above or below that average.

Higher-quality ads typically lead to lower costs, better ad positions and more advertising success. When users see better ads, they're happier and more likely to actually click on those ads.

Note that during a real-time auction, many additional factors (like the user's device, the user's location and the time of day) are considered to determine the quality of an ad.

Improving Ad Rank

Your Ad Rank is dependent on the Quality Score that determines the quality of your ad. The Quality Score and its component scores can be seen through four Quality Score status columns in the Google Ads interface: Quality Score, Landing Page Experience, Ad Relevance and Expected Click-through Rate (eCTR). Follow these instructions on how to check the status columns.

  • Quality Score is based on historical impressions for exact searches of your keyword, therefore changing keyword match types will not impact Quality Score.

  • If you notice a “—” in the Quality Score column, it means there aren't enough searches that exactly match your keywords to determine a keyword’s Quality Score.

  • There are factors related to your ad quality that might not be captured by Quality Score. These factors include, but are not limited to:

    • Devices used in search

    • Location of user

    • Time of day

    • Ad extensions

  • Information obtained from any of Google's various crawlers may be used to assess ad quality, which can be reflected through Quality Score.

SEO & Crawlers

Crawlers are an essential concept to be acquainted with as a digital marketer. Knowing how your website is examined prior to any paid campaign activation is essential to ensure campaign success. Crawler (sometimes also called a "robot" or "spider") is a generic term for any program that is used to automatically discover and scan websites by following links from one webpage to another. It is the primary tool, employed by search engines to examine your website and determine its SEO score. This score affects your organic traffic, determining the value of your web content and its relevance to the online search audiences.

Once you launch a paid campaign, you'll not only get paid traffic to your website but also organic traffic, which will boost your search rankings and make it easier for relevant audiences to find your business organically - more users using your website means more data for the search engine to judge your site and that means a better SEO ranking. This is assuming your website is not SEO-optimised.

Search engines work through three primary functions:

  1. Crawling: Scour the Internet for content, looking over the code/content for each URL they find.

  2. Indexing: Store and organize the content found during the crawling process. Once a page is in the index, it’s in the running to be displayed as a result of relevant queries.

  3. Ranking: Provide the pieces of content that will best answer a searcher's query, which means that results are ordered from most relevant to least relevant.

Usually, web crawlers are operated by search engines with their own algorithms. The algorithm will tell the web crawler how to find relevant information in response to a search query.

A web spider will search (crawl) and categorize all web pages on the internet that it can find and is told to index. So you can tell a web crawler not to crawl your web page if you don't want it to be found on search engines.

Your ad rank during paid campaigns won't result in a boost to organic growth if the crawlers don't like what they see. Stay with me for a future blog, in which I'll lay down the basics of SEO.

unthink marketing,



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