How Are Pay Per Click Ads Ranked?

Search Engine MarketingYou will have noticed that when you carry out a search on Google, adverts often appear above and to the right hand side of the organic search results. But how does Google decide whose Pay Per Click (PPC) adverts appear there and in which order?

Firstly, Google searches through submitted ads and selects those that are relevant to your search, taking into consideration factors such as user location. These ads must follow Google’s editorial policy closely. For example, if a keyword has a low search volume or if an ad generates too few clicks, it may be automatically disabled by Google. Advertisers failing to comply to a large extent or repeatedly may even have their accounts closed.

Once the relevant and appropriate ads have been chosen, they are put into an order according to their bid amount and Quality Score. Whilst the maximum bid amount you enter is a key factor in ad positioning, the Cost-Per-Click (CPC) bid threshold is determined by the matched keyword’s Quality Score. This means that the higher the Quality Score, the lower the CPC threshold. Quality score is determined by a number of variables, such as the historical Click-Through-Rate (CTR) of the keyword and the matched ad, your account history for all ads and keywords, and the relevance of the keywords to the ads in your ad group.

The majority of adverts have their content complete and ready, but some adverts with dynamic keyword content will be adapted to make the ad as relevant as possible. Some ads may also have extensions available, such as site links, phone numbers and product links.

If the selected relevant ads have a high enough Quality Score and CTR to exceed a certain level, up to 3 will show above the natural search listings. Meanwhile, the others are placed down the right hand side of the results page. If fewer than 3 are suitable to appear at the top of the page, the next highest ranked ads may appear there.

So, your CPC bid amount isn’t the only factor in Google’s ad positioning decision. Quality is a crucial variable to consider when undertaking a Search Engine Marketing campaign and will be fundamental in ensuring that your advert appears above the natural listings and above your competitiors.

Paul Jackson

Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

With almost a decade of experience in digital marketing, both in-house and agency-side, Paul is a CIM qualified Chartered Marketer with expertise and a refreshing approach. Paul’s experience with a diverse mix of brands in a wide range of industries has allowed him to see first-hand the importance of a tailored and business-oriented approach to marketing.