What Is Google’s Ad Rank Formula and How Does It Work?

Matthew is a Marketing Copywriter with a B.A. in Professional and Public Writing from Auburn University. He aims to learn a little more about the SEO world each day, and share as much of that knowledge with you as he can. When he's not striving to put out some fresh web content, he's usually fueling his Tolkien obsession or working on miscellaneous creative projects.

Camryn is looking for a new suitcase to take with her on her trip to London. She looks up “large suitcases” in Google and clicks the first result she sees — a paid ad.

There are other ads ranked just below it, but since they aren’t at the very top, they don’t instantly catch Camryn’s eye.

The above example illustrates the importance of having pay-per-click (PPC) ads that can outrank your competitors’ ads in Google. To that end, your campaigns should aim to achieve a high Ad Rank — that is, a high position in Google search results.

But how can you calculate Ad Rank for your own ads? What is Google’s Ad Rank formula? We’ll answer both of those questions below, and then we’ll cover how to maximize your Ad Rank.

Read on to learn more! Then consider partnering with WebFX — the agency with over 500 client testimonials — for our stellar PPC services. Just give us a call at 888-601-5359 or contact us online today!

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What is Google Ad Rank?

In short, Ad Rank is where Google positions your paid ads on search results pages. Just as Google ranks organic search results, it also ranks the PPC ads it displays for a given search.

It’s to your advantage to earn as high an Ad Rank as you can. Ad Rank is what allows you to boost your ads above your competitors’ ads. The higher your ads appear on the page, the more users will see them, and the more likely they are to click on them.

 

 

It’s not all about outranking competitors, either — Google has minimum thresholds that your ads must meet in order to appear at all. If your Ad Rank is lower than that threshold, Google won’t display your ads even if you don’t have any competitors for a given keyword.

When you set up your PPC ads in Google Ads, you do it by bidding on specific keywords that you want to target. Since you’re bidding against competitors, it can be easy to assume that your Google PPC bids are what determine your Ad Rank.

However, Ad Rank is more complex than simply listing ads based on the highest bidders. Google uses various factors to calculate Ad Rank, and we’ll explore what those factors are later.

What is Google’s Ad Rank formula?

Unfortunately, the specific formula for Ad Rank isn’t public knowledge,  like the inner workings of its organic search algorithms.

However, that’s not to say we have no idea how Google calculates Ad Rank. On the contrary, Google has been relatively open about the factors that contribute to it. 

Previously, Google only used two factors in its Ad Rank formula:

  • Maximum cost per click (CPC): The highest Google PPC bid you’re willing to make for a given keyword.
  • Quality Score: Google’s assessment of an ad’s overall quality.

To calculate your Ad Rank, all you had to do was multiply those two numbers together. In 2013, though, that changed. Maximum CPC and Quality Score are still important to know, but they’re far from the only factors taken into account with the Ad Rank formula. 

What factors does Google use to calculate Ad Rank?

If Ad Rank isn’t just Maximum CPC multiplied by Quality Score, what is it? What factors contribute to your Google Ad Rank?

There are five main metrics Google uses to calculate Ad Rank.

  • Maximum CPC: Your maximum bid is still a major factor, as in the original formula.
  • Search relevance: Your ads must be highly relevant to the keywords they target.
  • Ad format: Google assesses the expected positive impact of your chosen ad format and ad extensions you use.
  • Landing page experience: Your landing pages should provide a positive user experience, including fast page load speeds and mobile-friendliness.
  • Anticipated click-through rate (CTR): Google assesses how high a CTR it expects your ads to drive.

We know that these are the main contributing factors to Ad Rank. What we don’t know is exactly how much each factor is weighted in relation to the others, which is why we don’t have a concrete Ad Rank formula like we used to.

A note about Quality Score

You may have noticed that Quality Score is no longer among the factors listed above, despite being in the original formula. That’s because Google has stated that it doesn’t consider Quality Score when calculating Ad Rank.

However, does that mean you should ignore Quality Score when trying to estimate or improve your Ad Rank? Absolutely not.

It’s a bit tricky to grasp, but the basic idea is this: Quality Score itself isn’t an Ad Rank factor, but Ad Rank still uses the same building blocks from which Quality Score is built. That is, Quality Score accounts for things like landing page experience and ad format — and so does Ad Rank.

For that reason, you can still rely on Quality Score to help you determine your Ad Rank. If you have a low Quality Score, you probably have a low Ad Rank too. And if your Quality Score is through the roof, your ads are far more likely to rank high.

How can you maximize your Ad Rank?

Once you know what factors play a role in determining your Ad Rank, you can set to work optimizing each of them to improve your campaigns. Some of that involves optimizing your Google PPC bids, but you can also accomplish a lot by altering the ads themselves.

Here are three of the best ways to maximize your Ad Rank:

  • Create hyper-relevant ads: Ensure that your ads and keywords are extremely relevant to one another. If your ad isn’t relevant to a search, Google likely won’t display it.
  • Use ad extensions: Google typically has higher expectations for ads that use ad extensions like site links or phone numbers. Use ad extensions in your ads to boost your Ad Rank and attract more clicks.
  • Design user-friendly landing pages: Try to make your landing pages as user-friendly as possible. Optimize page speeds, use responsive design, and use a central call to action (CTA) to deliver a streamlined experience.

By enacting each of the above tips, you can significantly increase your Ad Rank and get your ads showing at the very top of search results.

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WebFX can help you optimize your Google Ad Rank

Want a hand maximizing your Ad Rank? WebFX is here for you! We have over 20 years of experience with marketing through Google. Our team of over 300 Google Ads Certified experts has the skill and dedication to help your PPC campaigns excel. 

With our PPC services, you’ll get our help with every step of the PPC process, optimizing for a top-tier Ad Rank as we go. You’ll also receive a dedicated account representative to keep you informed and involved in all that we do for you.

To get started with us, just give us a call at 888-601-5359 or contact us online today!