The ad rank formula is applied every time an ad placement occurs on the Google Network. The ad rank number Google assigns is not visible to anyone and only applies on an auction-by-auction basis.

Here are the factors that go into the equation of ad rank:

Bid Amount – Your bid tells Google the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. Bids can be set manually for individual ad groups or even individual keywords. However, “smart” bidding options are usually recommended these days. With smart bidding, advertisers give control over the auction-by-auction bidding to the Google Ads system in hopes that more conversions will occur for the budget.

Ad Quality – Ad quality is a significant and complex ranking factor. It considers many aspects of a campaign but mostly focuses on relevance. For example, if the keyword being targeted is also featured prominently in the text of the ad, that is seen in a positive light by the quality check system, indicating relevance. The landing page is also analyzed for quality and relevance. This can include things like keywords, page load time, and if there’s an SSL certificate on the website. Higher quality scores increase ad rank, which in turn can makes ads appear more prominently and at a lower cost per click.

Search Context – The context of a person’s search includes factors like the exact words they use in their search, the type of device they are searching from, their location at the time of search, and other signals and attributes.

Expected impact from ad assets and formats – When creating an ad in Google Ads, Google encourages adding a variety of “assets” in order to achieve success. Assets include standard items like headlines and descriptions but can also include a number of optional assets such as phone numbers, links to specific web pages, short callout phrases, images, location links, prices, and others. In the ad auction, all assets are analyzed and considered to determine ad rank.

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What can be done to improve ad rank?

The Google Ads platform is an ingenious system that changed the world of advertising forever, and the ad rank aspect of it is perhaps the most ingenious part. It allows for all advertisers to play on the same level playing field; It allows for prices to be set on a supply and demand basis; It is biased for quality and relevance so that the experience and results are better for all involved; And it removed the need to have human sales reps to sell ad placements — Computers manage the selling of ad placements. Since the costs of advertising can be significant for businesses, it’s important to take measures to streamline them whenever possible. Improved ad rank can have that effect, especially in the area of quality score. Ad rank in general, though, is about the overall competitiveness for ad placement.

Here are some tips to improve ad rank:

  • Use the right bid strategy for your goals. How you bid in the auction (or how the system bids on your behalf) is one of the most important determinants of success. Having meaningful tracking in place is important so the system can understand what it’s looking for and learn as it goes. Then apply a smart-bidding strategy to get either the maximum number of conversions for your budget or conversions at a targeted price.
  • Try to improve your quality score. Good quality scores relate to having a good ad group structure and relevant landing pages. Each ad group should have a well-defined theme so that when an ad is triggered, the searcher sees a high degree of relevance based on their search term.
  • Use assets that make sense for your goals. Add assets to your ads, such as callouts, sitelinks, phone number, or location link – but only if they make sense for your goals. Using assets will improve at rank, but you don’t want that to be at the expense of your business goals. For example, only use sitelinks if you think it could help business to offer a choice of landing pages for the user to go to.

Google vs. Meta Webinar on May 29th, 7 pm

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In closing

I’ve been a Google Ads specialist since 2011, and I’ve seen enormous changes in the system since then. It’s extraordinary how it continues to evolve at a rapid pace. I remember when the ad rank formula was simply “bid X quality score.” Some years later, Google disclosed that the use of ad extensions (now called “assets”) was also a part of the formula. Today’s ad rank formula is definitely similar but is much more nuanced. It’s helpful to keep in mind that Google’s goal in each auction is for a click to occur. They make money from clicks, so they think clicks are great. From an advertiser’s point of view, a click could be great or it could be horrible – it depends on who’s clicking and why. However, understanding Google’s priorities and the ad rank formula basics can go a long way in helping advertisers succeed more with Google Ads.