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  1. #1
    Grandma broke her coccyx! Uncle Rico's Avatar
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    Google Adword Top Position
    I have been searching the help pages on Google Adwords, but haven't been able to find out how one gets to be at the top of the page for a given keyword. I am talking about the "Sponsored Links" at the top of the page that have a background in light yellow. Is it just based on having the highest MAX CPC of any other advertiser?

  2. #2
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    Hi Seymour,

    Google works on a system of bids and quality score. In order to be in the yellow box, you will need to have one of the highest bids, as well as a great quality score.

    If we have two advertisers with an equal bid, say .05 cents per click and advertiser a has a better quality score then advertiser b, advertiser a will have a higher ranking ad, even though they are paying the same amount of money - kapish?

    You can look at the quality score of your keywords by clicking on the customize columns in the keywords section of your campaign and selecting keyword score.

    There's been a whole lot written about this and I'm not going to rewrite the wheel here, but do a search for quality score and check out blogs like SEOBook.com by Aaron Wall and eWhisper.net.

    Good Luck and keep the questions coming!

  3. #3
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    In my experience, it hasn't mattered too much what position my ad was in, as long as I was in the top 4 or so. Of course, experiences may vary depending on your offer and vertical, but keep that in mind. Watch your conversion rate and if the top spot doesn't help it, it's not worth paying for.

    I also think you can specify a preferred position by going to a campaign, clicking Edit Campaign Settings, and check off Enable Position Preferences. This will allow you to choose a preferred adwords position, though quality score and CPC still matter.
    Jason Rosenbaum
    Affiliate Manager
    MINDsprinting

  4. #4
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    be in the top 3 spots
    have high quality score and ctr (exact details aren't published by G)
    have all that are above your position meeting yellow reqs as well

    an undefined goal is hard to aim for, don't aim for yellow per se - aim for high quality score and high ctr and it'll come. take yellow as a sign of success, not a goal itself. in some areas, you may compete with others that have much higher margins (therefore bids and positions), so you don't want to chase yellow with bid amounts either. as such, it's not always a good sign of success either (roi is).

    focus your matching types, keywords, add lots of negs if phrase matching, add lots more negs if broad matching, include searched for words in your ad, have small well-themed ad groups, run multiple ad variations that are always evolving (therefore improving via ad auto-rotation optimization).

    varying your ads is important, not to getting yellow, but to improving. i believe a one mind approach doesn't always cut it, because you have experiences that inhibit your own creativity. if you work with others, make a contest of it, let auto-optimization choose the winner. the prize for finding compelling ads is higher positions, lower bids, higher roi, more volume and yellowness / topness (versus sidebarness)... that's pretty rewarding.

    learn to take off your marketer hat and think like a consumer (i have built an "i am a consumer right now" switch in my head over the years, i literally reach out into the air and flip it on with my finger). what is compelling to a shopper can be masked by mindset and even the vocabulary of those sitting inside the store.

    when you're working as a marketer, use G's ad preview site:
    google.com/adpreview
    do that for a few weeks, it'll form the habit that you're working as a marketer when you see that screen.
    then when you want to switch to consumer mode, to write ads, use google.com, like you do already as a consumer looking at ads.

    besides bolding (keywords match search), landing page correlation with ad and keyword concepts, the ad must say one thing compelling. one small thing that pushes one button. the catch. the twist. the focus. the message. the glue. the honey. focus on that, not mashing as many in there that you can think of. get your ad to say one thing. make other ads that say a different thing. one thing. run them and see which is most important to consumers.

    bold gets them to read it. the catch gets them to click. remember the goals isn't total clicks, so keep things narrow for keywords and matching types.

    make sure your site fulfills the promise of the catch.

    choose merchants that enable you to do that.

    tweak it for a while, then thoroughly shake it up once in a while and do some more tweaking and testing.

    once she's sailing along at good speed, then cut way back on testing and tweaking. Do more observing, smiling, enjoying, bragging, basking. then get to work on building another boat. or maybe a tank. or a lunar rover.

  5. #5
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    I've got a question for you Donuts: Do you use Adword's auto-optimization for ads?

    In my mind, it seems that auto-optimization might not be what I want. I want conversions, not clicks, so if I have an ad that has lower CTR but higher conversions, I might want to run that. What are your thoughts here?
    Jason Rosenbaum
    Affiliate Manager
    MINDsprinting

  6. #6
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MINDsprinter
    I've got a question for you Donuts: Do you use Adword's auto-optimization for ads?
    Yes, at all times unless I'm doing some very specific ad or landing page testing. Turning it off means equal distribution among the active ads (and their landing urls). Equal distribution is required to properly weight / populate some test data. Other than that, everything I do, runs auto-opt.

    Quote Originally Posted by MINDsprinter
    In my mind, it seems that auto-optimization might not be what I want. I want conversions, not clicks, so if I have an ad that has lower CTR but higher conversions, I might want to run that. What are your thoughts here?
    Yes, I have heard others say this. That they want to lower browsing visitors - the ones that are not so intent on buying, but are more looking. So they want fewer clicks. To me, you can't do this without also losing a lot of those looking to buy. To me, a buying consumer doesn't behave that way. BUT, there are people who say this works for them, so rock on! I'd just drop my bid down instead of making a less appealing ad.

    Think about the gaps and height of the bids in the top positions and compare them with those that are lower in ranking. And keep in mind that the G auction pricing model yields a difference between bid and actual cost and it's a cost that's based on the max bid (and performance) of those below you. A less appealing ad will lower your position and therefore lower your actual per click costs if it moves you down far enough. So my strategy is to lower my costs by adjusting the bid down (when there's lots of non-buyers), but let the performance of the ad always earn me better position and volume.

    Either road stems from one belief really... if you believe that buying people look for (or read through) more unattractive ads than browsing people do, then you might logically deduce that writing intentionally less appealing ads is a good strategy. There are certainly analytical buyers who do want to click 8 ads and analyze them all before buying - but I think the 8 ad clicker types are more likely the browsing people than the buying people.

    So, in the end, realize there's no wrong answer here in predictions. Test both and do what works best for you.

    One cautionary note - if you're making decisions about which is better based on statistical data, make sure your sample size is sufficient. If you're looking at two ads, one appealing and one not, you will have less volume and traffic on the ugly one - make sure it's enough data to make sound decisions on.

  7. #7
    Affiliate Manager MINDsprinter's Avatar
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    I agree on the sample size. I guess we are in different situations, as I am doing direct to merchant PPC (I am the merchant...), so conversions are my thing. But, of course, if my ad and landing page is good enough that I get high clicks AND high conversions, I'm all set. Testing is the answer, thanks!
    Jason Rosenbaum
    Affiliate Manager
    MINDsprinting

  8. #8
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    I agree entirely with Donuts. Also, I'll add that in my experience, having PPC ads in the "yellow" areas of Google's results is not as fun as it might appear. The times that I've had these top spots, my traffic often increased dramatically but my ROI also dropped. It has been said that at least part of this problem is that these emphasized (yellow) top spots are clicked by a lot of visitors who aren't really even reading the ads; some visitors are not very discriminating and just click the first thing that stands out at them. This is not the kind of traffic I'm looking for.

    I am usually happiest when my ads are in the 3 - 6 positions (when #3 is not in yellow, that is. Keep in mind the yellows can be either one, two, or three ads depending on a variety of factors). Often the top spots end up costing me more than I make in commissions; therefore a negative ROI. Depending on the market your keywords and ads are in, those top spots may also be taken up by actual merchants as opposed to affiliates, and obviously in-house PPC campaigns for merchants can afford to spend more since they receive 100% of the sale. It's important to analyze your competition in the results and decide where you best fit in, and what you can afford to spend and still turn a profit.

    As with anything else in PPC, your mileage may vary and experiment to see what works best.

  9. #9
    Grandma broke her coccyx! Uncle Rico's Avatar
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    I am using an exact match on a specific keyword phrase. To end up in the top 5, I have to bid a max of $1.99, which is quite crazy.

  10. #10
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    Well, that is a situation that you have to look carefully at whether it's worth even bidding in that particular ultracompetitive market. Some sectors are completely supersaturated with both merchants and affiliates, and I for one tend to avoid these in favor of smaller niches. If you're new at PPC, it's advisable to test the waters with small niche products and then work your way up to more competitive markets if you feel you can compete.

    Of course, it's also possible that your landing pages and ads are not very relevant and Google is punishing you on this keyword phrase for that. Part of Google's formula for your bid placement is the relevance/quality of both your ad and your landing page. It's not a simple straight bidding system; there are many factors involved.

    The information here is helpful (AdWords Quality and Performance factors):

    http://adwords.google.com/support/bi....py?topic=9353

    And this explains how Google ranks ads:

    http://adwords.google.com/support/bi...111&topic=7093

  11. #11
    Newbie glunnen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    One cautionary note - if you're making decisions about which is better based on statistical data, make sure your sample size is sufficient. If you're looking at two ads, one appealing and one not, you will have less volume and traffic on the ugly one - make sure it's enough data to make sound decisions on.
    There is a free online calculator for determining when an AdWords sample size is sufficient to replace a low yielding ad. Here's the url . . .

    www.SplitTester.com

    I can't vouch for its accuracy as I didn't create it but I use it and find it helpful.

    Greg

  12. #12
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeymourButts
    I am using an exact match on a specific keyword phrase. To end up in the top 5, I have to bid a max of $1.99, which is quite crazy.
    At $1.99, you're not even to crazy yet. High yes, but nowhere near crazy.

    Sounds like you may be targeting a common phrase -or- you may have quality score / ctr issues relative to your competitors.

    For a sign of commonality, check how many competing ads in the top 5 spots have the exact keyword in the title (looks at both plurals and singulars). If there's a bunch, there's a pack of motivated, knowledgable ppc'ers chasing it. Too many, find other keywords to focus on (if you're aiming for top 5).

    If there's just a few, chances are high it's your QC / CTR. Submit your site for review here at ABW's site review forum. Work on your ctr (ads).

    There's so much you can do, start with questioning every detail about your website, more can go wrong there (knowing you're using exact match).

    Good luck!

  13. #13
    Grandma broke her coccyx! Uncle Rico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donuts
    Submit your site for review here at ABW's site review forum. Work on your ctr (ads).
    Thanks for the advice. Not sure I am willing to submit my site(s) for review. I have a feeling many of my competitors also frequent this board.

  14. #14
    Classic Rocker Mack's Avatar
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    Q. Does the "I feel lucky" button ever take you to a sponsored link?

  15. #15
    Affiliate Manager
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    Approaching crazy...
    This was published in the last issue of Web Host industry review:

    Top bids for hosting keywords on pay-per-click search engines:

    (I'm just listing Adwords)
    "Web Hosting" $32.38
    "Shared hosting" $22.15
    "Dedicated Hosting" $45.11
    "Managed Hosting" $50.00
    "Managed Server" $50.00
    "Ecommerce Hosting" $25.37
    "Database hosting" $38.86

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mack
    Q. Does the "I feel lucky" button ever take you to a sponsored link?
    No, that always goes to the first link in the organic search results.

  17. #17
    Grandma broke her coccyx! Uncle Rico's Avatar
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    Based on my sites and the suggestions I have seen, I have changed strategies for adword adertising. Since I am not in the top 10 by organic means, I definately need some sort of PPC advertising.

    I have started with one campaign using "phrase matching" with a negative keywords to filter the words that I don't want. So far, I have a 3.10% CTR for that one campaign.

    I plan to start another small campaign tomorrow on a different keyword phrase that's also not as competitive.

  18. #18
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    That's a good start. Keep in mind that in general, [exact matches] that are very very specific and targeted should generally have a higher bid than less targeted "phrase matches" and broad matches. In fact, in my experience the broad matches get my lowest bids (and tons of negatives) to avoid getting a huge deluge of irrelevant clicks until you have a better idea of whether they will make sales or not.

    Broad = lowest bids
    Phrase = middle bids
    Exact = highest bids (of course, make sure they are targeted, make sense with your ad and products, and are likely to get an audience who wants to buy and not just info-seekers)

    Some people here might tell you not to bother with broad match at all. I personally think you can do it with terms that are at least two words (better if it's three or more) as long as you keep them to reasonably low bids and negate a lot of the stuff that would turn the broad query into something not relevant to the product you're promoting. It's always a red flag to me if my broad match terms have a large and sudden influx of clicks. It generally means the bid is too high and I need to use more negatives. It can also mean that my ad is giving some people the wrong idea and perhaps they're seeing it only as a place to get information on an issue rather than a place to buy a product.

    I play this kind of thing by feel. As you get used to it, you'll start to see trends that stand out as unusual (e.g. tons of clicks that you wouldn't have expected) and you have to be ready to slam the door on those keywords or they'll drain your budget. The way I see it, in pretty much every vertical and niche, if you're getting a ton of clicks on certain keywords in a short period of time, then it's almost always too good to be true. Your competitors, after all, have already thought of those broad and phrase matches and they wouldn't let one PPC guy have all the clicks for keywords that they know convert well. Use your competitors' behavior to your advantage.

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