What is Google Ad Rank, What Affects it and How to Improve it?

What is Ad Rank in Google Ads? You can find out what Ad Rank is, how it is calculated, what it affects and more in our blog post!

Bilgin Yılmaz
Bilgin Yılmaz - 17 February, 2021 - 9 min read
What is Google Ad Rank, What Affects it and How to Improve it?

What is Google Ad Rank and How to improve Ad Rank?

The Google Ads search network has become a critical point in the growth strategies of all brands. Especially small-medium size brands use Google Ads in order to get new users and retain users who have interacted with the brand before.

Google Ads Search Ads is a pay-per-click ad type. In other words, advertisers pay when the user clicks on the ad, but they do not pay when the user does not click on the ad. Contrary to thought, Google Ads search ads do not get position on the search results page based on bid-per-click only. 

There are many factors that affect the positions, impression and clicks of the ads. It is necessary to examine the factors that enable Google to make search ads more fair.

What is Ad Rank?

As in all auctions, in Google's auction system, the person who wants to buy the product or service has to make a bid, but the advertiser with the highest Google Ad Rank is shown at the top, not the highest bidder.

google-ad-rank-top-three-screenshot

When users search on the Google search results page, the probability of clicking on ads which is above is much lower than the probability of clicking on the ads in listings below. So Ad Rank is of great importance in order to get impressions and clicks effectively and quickly, and to advertise by using the budget much more effectively.

How can we calculate Ad Rank?

The Ad Rank formula which was announced by Google is Bid x Quality Score = Ad Rank. Ad relevance, estimated clickthrough rate, landing page experience, and ad format are elements of Quality Score.

Although Google has not explained the Ad Rank formula with all its signals, some of the factors it explains and the factors affecting Ad Rank by looking at the past experiences of the advertisers can be grouped under 5 main factors.

  • Bid of Keyword
  • Ad Relevance
  • Expected CTR
  • Landing Page Experience
  • Extensions and ad formats

example-of-an-ad-auction-for-an-ad-unit-that-shows-two-ads-screenshot

In the example taken from Google's Ad Auction document, there are 2 impression slots and 3 advertisers. The quality score of all 3 advertisers was determined as the maximum score of 10. In this case, two questions arise that need to be answered; Which advertiser will rank above? How much will each advertiser pay per click?

The answer to the first question is that the higher bidder, who is willing to pay more for that impression, will get an impression. In other words, Alice who bids $5 will be ranked higher than Bob who bids $3 and will receive impressions. In the second question, the method that Google uses as an auction method is called Second Price Auction. The biggest difference from First Price Auction is that instead of buying directly with the bid given by the highest bidder, the second highest bidder can buy that click by paying as much as the lowest monetary value. Looking at the above example with the formula Bid x Quality Score = Ad Rank, Alice gets 50 points and Bob gets 30 points. With the quality score fixed, Alice must pay a total of $3.01 to beat Bob and get the first ranked click.

Looking at the above example with the Ad Rank formula, Alice got 50 points and Bob got 30 points. In this case, the advertisement given by Alice will be in the top ranking. Bob's ad will rank lower. But it wouldn't be fair for Alice to pay $5 for that show even though there was such a big difference. It can be said that Google is trying to give justice with the Second Price Auction. The minimum bid for Alice to exceed Bob's 30 points, when she gives $3.01 x 10, passes with 31 points and is ranked. Thus, he gets impressions and clicks by paying $3.01 directly, not $5.

What is Quality Score and How to affect Ad Rank?

Quality score is the most important of the two variables of Ad Rank. The main factor that enables the advertiser to get more impressions and clicks with lower costs is the quality score.

Quality Score is an evaluation score displayed by Google on a system of 1 to 10 in the Ads panel. With 1 being the lowest and 10 the highest, Google scores the quality score on a keyword basis, and the bid given to the keyword related to the quality score determines the Ad Rank. In order to see the quality score metric, the relevant metrics can be added by going to the Search Keywords section in the Google Ads panel like Exp. CTR, Landing Page Exp and Ad Relevance.

The quality score consists of 3 main components which are as follows;

  • Landing Page Experience 
  • Ad Relevance
  • Expected CTR

Maximizing performance on these metrics will support the overall increase in quality score and will result in higher Ad Rank with lower bids and at the same time getting clicks at a lower cost.

example-of-quality-scores-screenshot

What are the Factors Affecting Ad Rank?

Factors that affect Ad Rank are ad relevance, landing page experience, estimated clickthrough rate, and bid-per-click.

Ad Relevance

Ad Relevance shows how relevant the search is with the ad that the user will see on the search results page as a result of searching for the relevant keyword on Google. So, if the user searches for "Red Shoes" and sees an ad with the title "Nike Air max", this indicates that the user has not seen a relevant ad and the Ad Relevance score of the advertised keyword will be low.

Therefore, Google Ads Search structures should be designed in such a way as to ensure that the user encounters the most relevant ad they can see. Campaigns, ad groups, keywords and ads should be put in a structure so that an ad with the title "Red Shoes" and content is displayed in the search for "Red Shoes" and an ad with the title "Nike Air max" in the search for "Nike Air max".

Expected CTR

Expected CTR is a score that Google gives to the estimated click-through rate after many reviews such as historical ad data, brand awareness, and the relevance of the ad and the site.

Although it is not possible to increase the estimated click-through rate directly, it is expected that the estimated click-through rate will increase when you increase online and offline brand awareness and backlink strength.

Bid of Keyword

Bid is the offer that you are willing to pay in order to get clicks on the keyword specific to the ad.

It can increase indefinitely, starting from the minimum amounts determined by Google for each Keyword. So for 1 click, you can bid 0.10$ or 1000$, but the actual CPC value will depend on many factors such as ad rank, competition, and the ad rank of other advertisers.

Landing Page Experience

The Landing Page Experience metric is also a frequently discussed metric in the SEO and SEM world. Google says that it measures this metric with 200 different signals, but today we will explain 3 main signals, both explained by the Google SEO team and determined by experience by Digital Marketing experts.

1-) Ad Relevance with Landing Page

Simply put, the ad that the user is looking for and the page he goes to must be relevant. As in the previous example, the first important metric to get a good Landing Page Experience score is that the user who clicks on an ad with the title "Red Shoes" as a result of a search for "Red Shoes" goes to a landing page where red shoes are sold or promoted. So how does Google Bot know that there are indeed Red Shoes products on that page?

During the Google Ads Review ad, Google Bot goes to the site and first examines the Header, Title, Description and in-site links, which we call the Meta Tag. In this way, it makes a preliminary scan and makes sure that it sends the user to a site with "Red Shoe" products. Then, when the ad starts to get clicks from users and brings visitors, it continues to evaluate this relevance and revise its scoring with metrics such as session duration, bounce rate, conversion rate.

2-) Mobile Friendly Website

Especially with the increase in the use of smartphones, Google started to give more importance to the mobile performance of the sites rather than the desktop performance. Today, when the usage devices of an e-commerce site are examined, 80-85% of them are users who start a session with mobile devices.

To briefly define Mobile Friendly sites, it is the general name given to the sites that are sized to fit the display on the user's mobile devices (tablet or smartphone) and that allow the user to navigate without the need to zoom or adjust the settings manually. Sites that are easy to read on mobile devices, navigate through the site, and find what the callers are looking for are mobile friendly sites. You can check whether a site is mobile friendly by using the Mobile-Friendly Test tool prepared by Google.

3-) Landing Page Speed

Landing Page speed is one of the factors that are evaluated between 0-100 and should be evaluated in two separate ways as Mobile & Desktop. Depending on the device from which the search is made and the site opening speed on that device, the ad rank may change depending on the device. In other words, if the page that works very fast on Desktop works very slowly on mobile, it may rank higher in a desktop-based search, but may lag behind in mobile-based searches.

You can use Google PageSpeed Insights, a free tool, and GTMetrix, which offers more advanced location-based results, to test this factor that affects both the ranking in organic results and Ad Rank.

What Are Other Factors Affecting Ad Rank?

  • User Search Term 
  • Users Location
  • Search Time 
  • Device (mobile or desktop)

In addition to all these, Google may choose not to show the ad if it considers that the ad will not be relevant to search, taking into account other ads and search results and other user signals appearing on the same page.

How to Increase Ad Rank?

Ad rank; It is a metric consisting of a quality score and a bid to keyword. In order to rank higher by keeping the bid stable, the quality score must be higher. In order to increase the quality score, three factors affecting it should be known in more detail.

quality-score-screenshot

At the end of the table above are two different keywords with a quality score of 7 and 8. The reason for the 1-point difference in the quality score of these keywords should be examined. Above Average of expected click-through rate and ad relevance values ​​for both keywords. However, in the landing page experience metric, a Keyword Average was evaluated, while the other keyword was Below Average. In other words, it shows us that the landing page of the ads where the 7-point keyword is shown is not good. What can be done to improve this quality score?

It is possible to increase this score by sending the Landing Page to the most relevant link with the ad, optimizing the site opening speed, in short, by bringing the user to the experience they want as a result of the ad.

If the problem was caused by Ad Relevance, it is suggested to increase the relevance by arranging the ad texts according to the targeted keywords, while if it is worth the estimated click-through rate, the level of brand awareness and relevance to the searched query should be increased throughout the site.

It is very critical to establish effective campaign structures in order to make effective Google Ads Campaigns. With proper campaign structures, it is possible to generate more clicks and sales with paying less to one click.

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