Ad Position is like talking about exposure, but more exposure doesn’t always mean better results. So how do you know what position on the search engine results page (SERP) is best for your business? Well, there are various factors that determine this, and I would rather say that it is based on a case-by-case scenario rather than just generalizing. Let’s talk a little more about it:
A few years ago, Google’s Inside Adwords blog shared some research making comparison on conversion rates based on ad position: (http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/08/conversion-rates-dont-vary-much-with-ad.html)
According to this research, conversion rates don’t vary much (by less than 5%) based on position in most cases. So when I first read this, I was skeptical on relying on that research, as it sounds a bit puzzling. However, this doesn’t mean that you fit into “most case” group, so you should do some research on your own campaign’s performance to determine whether your campaign fits the profile or not.
Before we get into details on how to determine your optimal ad position, whether top page or other (side page or bottom page), there are a few things that I would like to point out which influence your position and might be out of your control.
Small Budget, Pricey Keywords & High Search Volume
You might find yourself launching a campaign with a relatively low daily budget with a default bid amount, just to find out that the actual CPC for your keywords are more expensive than you thought they would be based on the Adwords Keyword Tool and the Traffic Estimator.
When this happens, you find yourself forced to raise bids just to find out that traffic is high; you are limited by budget and your ads are not shown throughout the day.
This factor can limit you from reaching the position you desire and not getting enough traffic to actually drive in conversions. Yet, you can always raise your daily budget, which most local small businesses are limited to do at times due to their pocket limitations.
Old Campaigns & Lots of Data
Now, if your case is that you have been running Adwords for some time, have climbed up that position ladder search engine results page (SERP) and have historically been on top and side page in the SERP. You will have a lot of information collected to determine what the optimal ad position for your specific campaign will be based on conversions data.
Top vs. Other Segments
Whatever your performance indicator is (sales, leads, CTR, traffic, etc.), you can simply get some insight on the performance for any of these metrics by viewing the Top vs. Other segmentation in Adwords, whether it is at a campaign, ad group, keyword or ad level.
You will then see a breakout of your campaign’s performance based on positioning for both Google and Google Search Partners networks (if you are running on both).
Remember to Review Thoroughly with Sufficient Data
What I do recommend though, before making a decision on whether your campaign performs best on top or side page, is to make sure you take a look at the performance based on different time ranges (last 7 days, last 30 days, last 90 days, or all-time) and analyze how the performance had changed throughout its trajectory.
Then, based on what is discovered, you can strive on reaching a certain position by either decreasing bids for a lower position or by working on Quality Score, relevance and raising bids for better position. However, that is a whole different topic all together and won’t be addressed in this particular post.
Determining your Optimal Ad Position Based on ROI
Now, when analyzing your performance data, especially based on conversions, it’s normally best to focus on your ROI or ROAS (read more about ROI & ROAS here: http://www.whitesharkmedia.com/google-analytics-metrics-ecommerce/) rather than the amount of conversions you are driving in.
For instance, it is better to drive 100 sales at $10 profit than 20 sales at $50 profit each. The end profits ($1000) are the same, but with 100 sales you also gain 100 new customers.
Granted, your business sells a quality product. You will without a doubt have x percentage of new customers recommend your product to friends or family. Your new customers might also buy from you again in the future!
If only 10% buy from you in the future, then you will have made far more profits with the 100 sales than the 20 sales. Learn what your customer life time value is and calculate your success based on this perspective!
Make Your Own Experiences
So at the end of the day, when asking yourself the question:
What is the optimal ad position for my campaign?
Don’t base yourself on some general information out there. Information that might tell you that the higher the position, the better, or that the conversion rate does not vary much based on position in most cases.
Instead rather, review, analyze and make decisions based on your own campaigns and I assure you that you will be achieve better results than relying solely on best-case scenarios.