How to Break Through Your PPC Performance Ceiling: Increasing Ad Rank

by Claire Stanley-Manock connective3

A common problem we see is campaigns suffering from hitting a performance ceiling whereby they can’t seem to increase spend, or gain impression share, despite increasing budgets; so further volume from Google appears restricted.

The way to gain the extra impression share to allow you to spend the extra budget and drive incremental volume is to increase your Ad Rank. So, what is Ad Rank?

According to Google, Ad Rank is…

A value that’s used to determine your ad position (where ads are shown on a page relative to other ads) and whether your ads will show at all. Ad Rank is calculated using your bid amount, your auction-time ad quality (including expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page experience), the Ad Rank thresholds, the competitiveness of an auction, the context of the person’s search (for example, the person’s location, device, time of search, the nature of the search terms, the other ads and search results that show on the page, and other user signals and attributes) and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats..

Simply put: Ad Rank = Bid x Expected Performance.

Nobody wants to simply increase bids, so here are the top four tips from Claire Stanley-Manock, Paid Media Director at connective3, for increasing your Ad Rank:

1. Change up your ads

If expected click-through rate is a factor in Ad Rank, then it’s important to have high performing ads. If your ads have been live for a while, analyse them and see what is performing best and use this as a basis to write refreshed ad copy. We recommend an n-gram script that will highlight which parts or phrases of your ads perform the best.

Also, make sure you have three expanded text ads, and one responsive search ad. Rotate your ads evenly to give them an equal chance to do well before reviewing them. Google currently seems to prefer responsive search ads, so including these will give the account an immediate boost.

2. Review your landing pages

Landing pages are often overlooked, but can make a big difference to performance. Just like ads, they form part of the journey that a user sees, and so have a big impact on stats and, in return, Ad Rank. The best way to test a new landing page is to run an A/B test using experiments so that you can easily see the differences in performance before committing to a different landing page. To be extra cautious, you can choose a lower amount of traffic to test against the new page, eg 20 per cent of clicks to go the new page versus 80 per cent to the existing page, which will reduce testing risk. Of course, performing conversion rate optimisation on your landing pages will push up performance further.

3. Increasing your bid

Performing a blanket CPC or CPA increase will have a detrimental impact on account efficiency. However, run some analysis on top performing times of the day, days of the week, audiences, devices, and locations; and enable the system to bid higher for searches that meet this criteria. That way, you’re increasing bids and increasing rank, but only when it’s going to pay back with conversions, revenue, and ROAS.

4. Review it regularly

Because Ad Rank is earned, if it drops it’s harder to regain, so make it a KPI for regular review.

Once you’ve followed the above steps, you should be in a position whereby you will have earned a better Ad Rank, as well as knowing where you can increase it further for enhanced bids and performance, and will be enjoying the holy grail reward of incremental cost effective conversions.

Claire will be discussing this in more detail at our SEO, PPC & Display webinar on 10 June. Register here or email Paul Nichols for more information.