Understanding Ad Rank, PPC & Quality Score

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Google uses several tools in the Pay-Per-Click process to determine how your ad is ranked. In this lesson, you'll learn about quality scores and PPC bids and how they determine where your ad is placed.

Moving to the Top

You just found out that your favorite band is going to be in town. Exciting! You decide that when tickets go on sale in two weeks, you're going to spend top dollar because you want to be in the front row, as close to the action as you can get. The day comes, and you score your tickets. All your friends are jealous of how great your seats are!

Using Google to craft and display a Pay-Per-Click marketing strategy is very much the same. The more you're willing to pay for each click and the better planned out your ad is to reach consumers, the closer to the top you'll appear, earning more views and, potentially, more leads through each click.

What Is Pay-Per-Click?

Pay-Per-Click advertising is a type of online marketing strategy that displays your sponsored advertisement in search engine results alongside non-paid search results. As the advertiser, you pay the search engine only when someone clicks on your ad.

Marketers and advertisers choose Pay-Per-Click because it can be an inexpensive way to earn traffic for their websites. Typically, a Pay-Per-Click advertisement is targeted specifically to the desired audience through the use of ad text and appropriate keywords, lessening the chances of errant clicks from uninterested consumers.

Google uses several tools in the Pay-Per-Click process to determine how your ad is ranked.

There are several tools Google uses, however, to determine how your advertisement is served to consumers and where it is placed. Savvy marketers need to be aware of these tools to try to maximize their ad placement and, ultimately, their leads and conversions.

Quality Score

Google uses a component called a quality score to determine how strong your ad is or, in essence, the quality of your ad. A quality score is based on a one to ten scale, with ten being the highest. The determining components include:

  • Anticipated click-through rate (how popular will it be)
  • Keyword selection (relevance to the topic and strength in the search)
  • Efficiency of your website landing page (ease of navigation and quality of information shared)

Essentially, Google has a formula for determining if they believe your ad and website will be useful to people looking at it. Bear in mind that your quality score does not determine whether the ad will achieve good - or bad - things for your business objectives. It is a third-party assessment of how they believe your ad will perform.

Pay-Per-Click Bids

The bidding process for a Google Pay-Per-Click ad functions much like an auction. In it, marketers and advertisers tell Google the maximum they are willing to pay per user click on their ad. The marketer who bids the highest for a given keyword increases the likelihood of their ad appearing higher on the page.

Using Google's Keyword Research Tool can give you an estimate of what Google thinks it will take to secure the winning bid, and the built-in analytics will tell you, based on your maximum bid, what ad position you are likely to appear in.

Ad Rank

Using your quality score and your maximum bid amount, Google will determine in what position your ad will be placed, called ad rank. If we make it look like a math equation, it could be expressed as: Pay-Per-Click bid x Quality Score = Ad Rank.

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