Google AdWords uses a complex bidding system to choose which ads occupy which spaces, and in what order. Today we’ll explore what factors play into that process.

Google AdWords Rank

Google AdWords ranks your ad’s position based on 5 main factors: bid, expected click-through rate, relevance, format, and where the ad leads to.


Contrary to popular belief, your bid is not the most important factor when deciding ad rank. Your bid is simply the most you are willing to pay for an ad spot, which matters only when it’s down to the wire picking through ads with very similar traits.

Think of it like you’re going out for dinner. You’re willing to spend $50 for dinner, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to have to spend your whole budget. There are clearly more factors that are at play and your budget isn’t really what’s driving your choice. In fact, you’ll probably end up having a quality meal for a less than your budget! But your options on where to go would have been reduced had your initial budget not been $50 in the first place.

(Note: $50 is not what you need to bid to be successful, it’s just a number used for the demonstration!)

Expected Click-through Rate (CTR)

Expected click-through rate is unfortunately not something that advertisers have control over, but the data can be useful! This data is a prediction of keyword performance based on that keywords history. It measures how people have interacted with that keyword in the recent past, and estimates how many people are likely to click on an ad that is derived from that keyword.

While you can’t affect how users interact with our keywords, you can tailor your keywords based on the data from the expected CTR. Google AdWords has a number of helpful tools to help identify stronger keywords for your campaign, like their Keyword Planner. Use these tools to assist you in choosing keywords that show strong potential for engagement, and never worry about expected CTR again.

Ad Relevance

Relevance is the factor of AdWords ranking that both Google and the advertisers likely agree on: making sure the content matches the audience! Ad relevance is the comparison of your keywords and ad copy against the search query made. It ensures that users are being served ads that directly related to the content they’re interested in.

The best way to work with this ranking factor is to make sure you are utilizing both keywords and negative keywords. Negative keywords are words and phrases you don’t want your ad to be confused or associated with. Let’s say, for example, you sell used car parts. But you do not sell tires. Your keywords would likely involve “used car parts,” “used mufflers,” etc. But your negative keywords may look something like: “tires,” “used tires,” “discount tires,” etc. Using negative keywords will ensure you’re relevant to the people you really want to reach.

Ad Format

The format your ads are in is very crucial regarding where they will be placed. AdWords allows you to make image, text, video, and other rich format ads. The spot you are bidding on may only accept one kind of format, but you need to be prepared for many spots with multiple formats.

What gives you more impact in this area is the number of extensions you add to each format. Extensions are added elements that Google allows you integrate into your ads. Sometimes is a list of locations, sometimes it’s a callable phone number or just links to other pages of your website. The more extensions you add, the better visibility you have, which means a greater likelihood of being picked for an ad spot.

Landing Page

The page that your ads link to plays heavily into your pages overall rank. Google assesses the “customer experience” of your site: i.e., how easy or hard of time people will have navigating it. Some factors that are relevant to this assessment include loading time, content relevance to the ad, and overall copy.

A great way to make sure your link is AdWords ready is making separate landing pages for ads that pertain to specific products or services. If you advertise a sweater and your link just takes you to your general home page, there is a much greater chance of losing the sale altogether! There are quick services (like LeadPages ) that give you the ability to make seemingly unlimited, click-and-drag landing pages as part of their membership. Making specific landing pages ensures your future customers are being shown the content they clicked for. Which means Google will be very satisfied with your page!


If these tips are a little overwhelming, it might be time to hand your marketing over to the experts. Google AdWords is a great tool that can be extremely successful when used properly. For help with your next Google AdWords Campaign, call SC Marketing at 630-456-0827.


Google AdWords Information courtesy of Google AdWords Help: