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How do my Adwords ads appear above the Google search results

I don’t normally get involved in Adwords campaigns any more, but a client asked me this question today and to be honest, I didn’t know right off the bat. So I took a look around and went to the oracle for the answer. Here’s what Google says;

“On Google search result pages, the highest ranking AdWords ads are eligible to appear in the top positions above the search results. While we show only up to three ads above the search results per page, several top-performing ads can be eligible for these positions. Therefore, we cycle through all eligible ads in subsequent pages until there are no eligible ads left; when this happens, we’ll return to showing the first competing ad at the top of the page.”

OK, so you pay more, you get to the top huh? Well no;

“Google believes strongly in providing high-quality and relevant advertising to our users. Our system does not rank ads solely on cost, and there is no way to reserve top placement on a search result page.”

So how does it happen?

“Ad position on the search network is based on the matched keyword’s cost-per-click (CPC) bid times its Quality Score. A keyword’s Quality Score for ad position is based on its clickthrough rate (CTR) on Google, the relevance of the ad and keyword to the search query, historical keyword performance, and other relevancy factors.”

Got that? No? Well it’s not what you’d term crystal clear. But to summarise, it’s not possible to guarantee a top position for a Google search page using Adwords even if you make sure that you are paying more per click and are willing to spend more per day than everyone else advertising. The way you get ads to show up is to subscribe to a Google Adwords pay per click campaign and set what you want to pay per person clicking on your ad and what the maximum you want to pay per day is. You then have to write an ad that gets clickthroughs and gets Google to notice how effective the ad is. If Google thinks it’s a good quality ad it will put it at the top of the page above the search results in the yellow boxes. If there are more than three good quality ads, then Google rotates them. Kinda dependent on a lot of variables isn’t it?

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