by Craig Wakefield February 23, 2015

It’s Good to Be #1.4: Getting a Better Ad Position

Become the Champion of PPC (BYO Trophy)

It’s good to be #1 (in PPC). Here are three ways to make it happen and the mega-benefits that will follow.

If you’re running a paid search campaign and hoping for an increase in conversions, this post is for you. It will take you six minutes to read and could make you some serious dough.

Managing paid search can be extremely complicated. There are hundreds of different factors that affect results. It’s too easy to chase your tail and make so many small changes that if (and that’s a big if) you see a positive result you’ll have no idea what caused it.

[Tweet “Let’s make it simple and get your ads into position 1.4.”]

Let’s make it simple and get your ads into position 1.4. We call this strategy “popping,” and it’s a great way to get click data quickly, learn what advertising in your industry can actually cost, and get a better click-through rate, which will help raise quality scores and eventually lower costs over time. Doing this effectively isn’t for the faint of heart—you’ll need to have budget allocated beforehand—but it can get results fast.

Below are actual outcomes of three different accounts that saw great results by getting their ads in the right spot. This led to a significant increase in leads and significant decrease in cost per lead over four weeks.

Still with me? Great, here are three steps that can get you there:

1. Bid High. Way High.

Ramp up your default max CPC. Remember, this is most likely not what you will actually pay per click. Stay calm and bid higher than you think you should.

What it will do is: a) get your ads up in a better ad position, and b) tell you what the average cost per click is for the number one position. After a while you can decrease your bids (slowly). Make sure to step down the bids toward the average CPC during the time period they were in position 1.

Note – for one campaign even though I have a $55 max CPC, my actual cost per click is on average $20.

2. Position 1.4 is your target.

Err on the side of higher than that to begin with, but 1.4 is the end goal. Position 1.4 means that you’re not paying the premium of being in position 1.0 all the time, but you will get the traffic of usually being at the top. It also means your ad will show up in position 1 more times than in position 2. It’s a pretty sweet spot in terms of traffic and price.

Automated rules are your friend. Don’t give them the shaft. Below is one example of how you could get it done. Pay attention to the time period you are using data from and make sure it matches the frequency of running the rule. Otherwise, things could get out of hand quickly (with any high-bid strategy, be sure you’re checking the account several times a day).

3. Manage your bids at the ad group level.

Too often people give up on managing max CPC bids because it is overwhelming. When you start a popping strategy, make things simple by zeroing out your bids at the keyword level and setting caps at the ad group level.

Let’s say you have 5 campaigns. Each campaign has 15 ad groups and each of those ad groups has 3 keywords. If you manage at the ad group level you have 75 bids to manage as opposed to 225 at the keyword level. Prevent brain damage: manage at the ad group level.

[Tweet “Make things simple by and setting bids at the ad group level.”]

4. Down the Road: Lowering CPA

If there comes a day that you consider decreasing position to improve CPA, do so with caution. Focus first on other areas such as reallocating budget to better-converting keywords, changing ad copy and of course, landing page improvements. Don’t hamstring yourself by sacrificing potential customers until you know you’ve done everything you can to convert the clicks you are already getting.

Let us know in the comments what you’ve done to get a better ad position, and whether the popping strategy has worked for you!

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Craig Wakefield

Craig Wakefield

Craig is a passionate leader who loves what marketing can do for a business. He's also quite an interesting character with passions that span the spectrum. Bow hunting, horses and barns on one end, and ballroom dance on the other. \n\nRelationships and business consulting are his forte. More than a decade with digital marketing agencies, he spent the last six years here at Disruptive. He was here back when everyone in the company could eat lunch at one table. He's been instrumental in Disruptive's development to date and continues to shape the company and the client experience.

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