What Is Ad Rank & 3 Ways To Improve It Without Spending More

The basic definition of Ad Rank hasn’t changed over the years.

ad rank is the value that determines the position of your ad in google search, relative to other ads.

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While we all know that Ad Rank is the number one factor in your ad ranking, what exactly are those factors?

What does the Ad Rank calculation include? What can you control to improve your Ad Rank?

If you’re not sure where to start with Ad Rank, this is for you.

While Ad Rank may seem like a simple calculation, trying to improve it can feel like an uphill battle.

You’ll find out everything you need to know about Ad Rank, why it’s important, and how you can improve it without spending more.

what exactly is Ad Rank?

according to google, the official definition is: “a value used to determine the position of your ad (where ads are shown on a page relative to other ads) and whether your ads will show.”


For example, if your ad appears in the second position on the page, your Ad Rank for that particular search is a two.

But what factors really affect your Ad Rank?

Before 2017, Ad Rank was a simpler calculation involving your maximum cpc and the number of competitors relative to search.

Since Google Ads introduced some key changes to the way Ad Rank is calculated, such as thresholds and machine learning, it has become much more complex.

In a nutshell, Ad Rank is calculated by:

  • the amount of your offer.
  • quality of the ads at the time of the auction.
  • competitiveness of the auction.
  • context of a user’s search.
  • expected impact of extensions and other ad formats.
  • Each specific keyword search is analyzed by determining the above factors to give the ad a rank.

    That means every search is fundamentally different. that means in a search auction, you could have an Ad Rank of one. but in the next search auction, you could have an Ad Rank of four.

    To fully understand Ad Rank, let’s dive into each of the factors above.

    • Your bid amount: This is the amount you are willing to pay to appear in a specific position when a user searches for a keyword. There are minimum and maximum thresholds. For example, if you set a max cpc of $2 and the next highest bidder has a max cpc of $1.60, then you will pay $1.61 on that auction.
      • Ad Quality: There are three main factors that go into determining the quality of your ad. these include expected click-through rate (ctr), ad relevance, and landing page experience.
        • User signals and attributes: These signals include things like location, device type, and time of day. ad rating thresholds will vary based on these factors.
          • search context: two different people can search for the same keyword and have two completely different contexts.
            • Auction Competitiveness: Your ad rank may also depend on auctions for related but similar searches. for example, the search terms [wedding invitations] and [wedding invitations] could be reported to each other because they are similar in nature.
              • Expected impact of ad extensions and other formats: Google will look at ad extensions for relevance, ctr, and the overall experience with the ad.
              • Because Google Ads is essentially an auction, it’s often assumed that if you just bid higher, you’ll get first place advertising.

                in the world of complexity, that is no longer the case.

                You could be bidding significantly less than a competitor of yours in an auction, but still beat them if your ads are better!

                While there are many differences between organic and paid search, they work similarly in that Google will favor the most relevant information for search engines.

                Now that we’ve gone over the basics of Ad Rank and how it’s calculated, here are three ways you can improve your Ad Rank, all without spending more money.

                1. improve the relevance of your ad

                Ad relevance is an important component of your Ad Rank. As mentioned above, ad relevance is one of three components that make up ad quality or quality score.

                According to Google’s official definition, ad relevance is “how closely your ad matches the intent behind a user’s search.”

                So how do you improve the relevance of your ad?

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                Start by auditing your current ad copy and cross-reference the keywords you’re bidding on.

                Do your titles or descriptions include keywords that a user is searching for?

                Responsive search ads are a great way to test different copy to determine what resonates best with a user.

                google provides some reports on titles and descriptions, including how they rank from “low” to “best” in terms of performance.

                If you’ve found winning ad copy that performs well, you can also pin the best-performing headline to the top of your ad, making sure it always appears in your ad.

                Now, while you should focus on including relevant keywords in your copy that a user is searching for, don’t confuse this with keyword stuffing.

                Gone are the days of focusing on skags (single keyword ad groups). It used to be easy to get higher ad relevancy with skags because you almost always matched a particular search term to your headline.

                With google’s expansion of exact match types, advertisers have had to move away from skags and focus on holistic imagery. everyone searches differently, and if you rely on the skags in your account to delve into a particular level, you could be limiting yourself.

                Secondly, part of Google’s ad relevance definition is how closely the ad matches the user’s intent.

                let’s say I’m looking for [keyword research tool cost]. I’m clearly looking at how much a tool like that would cost me per month.

                • the title was aligned with my search query.
                • good use of the sitelink extension to compare plans and prices.
                • provides brand authority with over 10 million users.
                • additional trial period to try before you buy.
                • To summarize, ad relevance is not just about trying to include keywords as many times as possible in your text.

                  google focuses more on a user’s intent and how well your ad can help that user solve a problem.

                  2. focus on the content of the ad extension

                  Ad extensions are something that can be easily forgotten when setting up new campaigns and ad groups.

                  Although they may seem tedious or unimportant to configure, it is quite the opposite.

                  Ad extensions are a vital part of increasing your ad’s rank on google. they help increase your ctr, therefore in turn help increase your ad rank.

                  why do they help increase ctr? I’m glad you asked!

                  Ad extensions allow you to provide users with additional information about your business that you couldn’t convey in your ad. after all, we are still limited by the number of characters with titles and descriptions.

                  however, don’t add extensions just for the sake of adding them.

                  In fact, if you add extensions to a campaign or ad group that don’t align with search terms, it could lower your Ad Rank.

                  So what should I use ad extensions for?

                  well, almost anything! google continues to produce additional ways that we as advertisers can get our message across to a user to help them resolve a problem.

                  As of now, these are the available ad extensions you can create:

                  • location (and affiliate location).
                  • sitelink.
                  • call.
                  • structured snippet.
                  • price.
                  • application.
                  • image.
                  • prospect form.
                  • promotion.
                  • call.
                  • With all these options, how do you choose which ones to add?

                    Ideally, you should create ad extensions based on your campaign goals.

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                    For example, if you have a local business and are trying to drive store traffic, you would benefit from adding location extensions.

                    If your goal is to generate more web traffic, try adding relevant sitelinks to different areas of your site that can help solve a user’s problem.

                    If lead generation is your main goal, try adding a lead form extension to your ads, especially if you don’t have a stellar landing page. but we’ll talk more about landing pages in the next section.

                    To summarize, be specific about the extensions you add to your campaigns. Aligning them with your campaign goals could help boost your Ad Rank significantly.

                    3. create better landing pages

                    Landing pages are often a forgotten piece of the conversion puzzle.

                    However, I’d like to argue that this is the most important part of improving your Ad Rank.

                    If you’ve ever clicked on a paid ad and been disappointed with your landing page experience, you know how frustrating it can be.

                    as a search engine, the user experience can make or break whether they buy from you or not.

                    Your search query should be a direct indicator of what you expect to see when you access a website.

                    In the past, many advertisers spent a lot of time creating a different landing page for each ad group to make sure the page had exactly what the user was looking for.

                    Well, in theory, that’s good, right?

                    It’s good, if you’re helping them solve a problem. If you’re creating landing pages with fake text just to match the search term, you’ve got it all wrong.

                    if you haven’t noticed the google theme lately, it’s all about intent.

                    We need to stop worrying about our landing page title matching exactly what a user is looking for and more about what they actually see when they land.

                    There are many things to consider when creating a good landing page:

                    • which device the user is on.
                    • how much “white space” (or unnecessary space) is on the page.
                    • if there is a clear call to action (cta) before a user has to scroll.
                    • how many clicks does a user need to solve their problem.
                    • how fast the site loads.
                    • The list can go on and on if you get my drift.

                      The point is that your landing page experience needs to be of quality and consistency to improve your Ad Rank.

                      so much so that google even adopted the landing page experience in its quality score metric!

                      If you do the legwork now on your landing pages, the results will show over time.


                      When it comes to improving your Ad Rank, are you more likely to manipulate your bids and budgets?

                      If this has been your preferred strategy, I encourage you to take a step back and look at the big picture of your campaigns.

                      There are many factors you can influence your ads to change your Ad Rank metric, all without spending more on campaign budgets.

                      • enhance your ad copy to align with a user’s search intent.
                      • increase your ad ctr with strong and relevant ad extensions.
                      • focus on improving the landing page experience for higher conversion rates.
                      • Once you’ve worked on these pieces, you can feel comfortable changing bids and budgets to dominate the top search position.

                        more resources:

                        • Is your use of google ads an organic search ranking factor?
                        • google ads announces top 3 priorities for 2022
                        • a complete guide to ppc marketing for beginners
                        • featured image: antonio guillem/shutterstock

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