How to improve your Google ad rank and appear higher in the SERPs

Sam Jacobs

Sam Jacobs
Paid Search Director

5 min read

10th January 2023

If you want to increase impression share, generate more clicks, and drive more conversions from your ads, you need to improve your Google ad rankings. 

There’s a lot of technical know-how surrounding Google Ads that unless you’ve spent a decade learning, can seem a bit daunting. We’re going to simplify the technical bits, so you can bid more effectively for your target keywords. And ultimately, drive more revenue to your business.

Firstly, what is the Google ad rank formula?

Simply put, your ad rank determines where your ad will show up in the search result. The person with the highest ad rank will get the best placement. The formula that Google uses to determine your ad rank.

Max Bid X Quality Score = Ad Rank

Advertiser 1: Max bid £2 X Quality Score (10) = Ad rank 20

Advertiser 2: Max bid £4 X Quality Score (4) = Ad rank 16

Advertiser 3: Max bid £6 X Quality Score 2 = Ad rank 12

Advertiser 4: Max bid £8 X Quality Score 1 = Ad rank 8

So, you don’t always have to have the highest bid to get the best ad rank, if your quality score is good.

Use relevant search terms as your target keywords

The first step you can take to improving your ad ranking is to make sure you’re targeting the right search terms. Every project should start with proper keyword research. 

You can use free tools such as Keyword Planner, Answer The Public or Google Related Searches to find valuable search terms for your offering. You can then define a list of these important search terms to use as your target keywords.

A good thing about using an effective keyword strategy is that Google will reward advertisers who serve relevant ads to the users’ search query. This will improve your quality score.

If your current campaigns target keywords with low quality score, it would be worthwhile removing these keywords and replacing with more relevant terms, or trying to improve your ads to get a better quality score using your existing keywords.

Improve your ads quality score

It’s important to understand how quality score is determined. Google gives your ads a quality score from 1 – 10 (1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest). 

Whilst serving your ads, Google tracks what happens after the click and uses that data to determine quality score. Officially stated by Google, there are three key indicators that determine your ads quality score: 

1. Ad relevance

Is the ad you are serving relevant to the users search query?

To improve your ad relevance, it helps to have the exact keyword in your ad copy (headlines and descriptions). Using the keyword tactfully in your ad copy will help you get a high score for ad relevance.

2. Expected click through rate (CTR)

When Google shows your ads to 100 people. If 3 of those people click on your ad you have a 3% CTR. 

A relevant ad should get a good CTR, but it also help to take up as much real estate on the search result as possible. You can increase the size of your ad by including extensions such as; site link, callout, structured snippets, location, promotion, call extensions etc.

3. Landing page experience

How long people are spending on your page. Are they finding what they’re looking for?

Improve your landing page experience by ensuring the ad takes the user to a page that is relevant to the search query. Include enough on page copy to thoroughly answer the users query. It can help to include FAQs on the page, illustrations, videos etc.

Each of the three indications are rated ‘below average’, ‘average’, or ‘above average’. Combined, these ratings determine your quality score for your target keyword. 

Use an effective bid strategy

We’ve established that Max Bid X Quality Score = Ad Rank. We’ve covered quality score. So, now it’s time to look at your bid strategy. 

There is a simple formula which will help calculate your max bid:

Your Bid = The Ad Rank Of The Person Below You / Your Quality Score + £0.01

Let’s say you have four advertisers who are targeting the same keyword. They will each have specified their max bid (max CPC) for clicks on this keyword. 

Advertiser 1 sets their max bid at £2. 

Advertiser 2, £4. 

Advertiser 3, £6. 

Advertiser 4, £8. 

These are our max bids for our clicks. 

Using the formula above, you can determine the actual cost per click (CPC) of your ad:

Advertiser 1 CPC is:

(ad rank of person below) 16 / (your quality score) 10 + £0.01 = £1.61

Advertiser 2 CPC is:

(ad rank of person below) 12  / (your quality score) 4 + £0.01 = £3.01

Advertiser 3 CPC is:

(ad rank of person below) 8 / (your quality score) 2 + £0.01 = £4.01

Advertiser 4 CPC is:

(ad rank of person below) ? / (your quality score) 1 + £0.01 = high CPC

So advertiser 1 gets the best ad rank and top spot on the search result, despite paying less per click. That’s why it’s so important to improve your quality score as best you can. Having a good quality score can ensure you don’t have to bid through the roof to get a good ad rank.

Effective ad management drives more revenue

Whilst it’s not enough to only target relevant keywords, or have an effective bid strategy, the above explains why strategically optimising both will help you drive more traffic from your ads, at less cost. 

Most business owners won’t know the technical side of running a Google Ads campaign. After all, you’ve got a business to run, so it makes sense to work with a Google ads specialist who can guide you.

Contact GrowRoom if you have any questions on this, or if you’d like support with your paid ads.

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