Top vs. Side: Why Bidding for Position Can Make Sense

This article assumes some familiarity with managing a Google Adwords account. If you’re not at that place yet, you can read more about paid search here or read about 5 common paid search mistakes here.

Google’s Adwords interface is a powerful tool. It gives you the ability to segment your data by any number of different dimensions: time of the day, age, gender, device, and much more. This can provide valuable insights like, “We need to increase our bids on the West Coast to keep up with the competition,” or “Let’s shut this campaign off after business hours, because none of the traffic after 6pm has been converting.”

These types of granular insights can be incredibly valuable, but we can also use these tools to identify larger trends that span across several accounts. Let’s look at an example.

As you’ve probably noticed, there are two main places where you will see ads in a typical Google search: at the top of the page and along the right side. With that in mind, some recent research for one of our clients took us down a slightly different path of segmenting data: examining the performance of their ads when they appear at the top of the results vs. when they appear on the right side of the page or the bottom of the page. Google calls this “Top vs. Other.”

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We were hoping to find out whether it’s worth the higher costs to ensure that our clients’ ads appear above the search results.

The results were staggering.

Comparing data across 8 accounts, here are a couple things we found:

  • Click-through-rate for “Top” ads was 2186% higher than for “Other” ads. Not a typo. 2186% higher.

  • Conversion rate (conversions per click) was 347% higher. In other words, not only are people more likely to click on a “Top” ad, but those that click through are more likely to convert when they reach the site.

  • Combining those two metrics, conversions per impression was roughly 10,000% higher for “Top” ads than for “Other” ads.

In a nutshell, it’s worth the higher cost to ensure that your ads are showing up at the top of the page. It can improve both the quantity and quality of your traffic.

This is where things get a bit more nuanced, because the top of the page is a moving target. In some cases, there will be two or three ads at the top of the page. In other cases there may be one ad or possibly no ads at all. This can vary depending on your campaign, keywords, etc., and can take some research to sort out.

Nashville PPC Management

Adwords—it can be just about as simple or complex as you want it to be. And the truth is, it’s pretty rare that we find a company running a successful, efficient Adwords account in-house.

At Pryor Consultation, we have a track record of showing marked ROI improvement for our paid search clients. We manage Adwords accounts for companies large and small, some focusing here in Nashville, many others with a national presence. If you’d like to learn more about how we could improve your paid search performance, read more about AdCheck and AdGrow, or just shoot us a message!