How to Outrank Competitors on Google Adwords

One of the difficulties of managing Adwords campaigns is trying to outrank a competitor that is determined to take top position in the sponsored ads. This can easily turn in to a very expensive task if two competitors have locked horns for the number 1 spot.

Your Auction Insights Report is a valuable report that lists some of your major competitors on Google Adwords. It reveals how successful your campaigns, ad groups and ads compare with competitors participating in the same auctions. So you can start here to see who your competitors are, what share of impressions they have compared to you and what the ‘top of the page rate’ is for you and your competitors as below:

Auction Insights Report

So here are some strategies you can implement to outrank your competitors:

Flexible Bid Strategies

Flexible bid strategies are often ignored by many advertisers and they don’t realise the difference they could make to their rankings. In fact, we’ve managed many accounts where the advertiser didn’t know how their competitors where outranking them, and it turns out that they weren’t using a flexible bid strategy.
Your flexible bid strategies are available under Shared Library and the two main ones to help you outrank competitors are below:

1. Target Search Page Location

This feature works with and Search Network Only campaigns. So it is not available for Display Network campaigns. It automatically lowers or raises your bids to show your ad at the top of the page or on first page results.

Obviously if you are looking to outrank competitors then you will be more interested in the ‘top of the first search results page’ and not ‘anywhere on the first search results page’ option.

Top of the first search results page

2. Target Outranking Share

If you are looking to outrank a particular competitor and ensure that your ad is always above their ad in the search results, then this is the feature to implement.
It works with Search Network only campaigns and works with keywords, ad groups and campaigns.

So, how effective is ‘target outranking share? Very effective in fact! However, if you and a competitor are using it, then increase each domain’s bid until one of them reaches their limit and the one with the best bid and quality score will win the higher ad rank.

Ad Rank

Ad Rank is simply the determination of your position in the ad search results. It’s easy to calculate and the formula is

Ad Rank = CPC bid X Quality Score

You can have a high, medium or low rank based on your keyword quality scores and your CPC bid and it is calculated each time your ad is eligible to appear in the search results. Often a high ad rank at a low cost is what most advertisers are looking for so it is important to address any issues that may be hampering your objective to achieve this.

Sitelinks can also help to improve your ad rank if they are relevant and targeted.

So, to improve your ad rank, you need to improve the following:

1. Quality Scores

there are three main factors that determine your quality scores and they are ‘expected click through rate’, ‘ad relevance’ and landing page experience. Each of these factors will have a rating of ‘above average’, ‘average’ or ‘below average’ and you will need to improve any below average ratings.

There are two places you can see your keyword quality scores: (1) move your mouse over the speech bubble next to any keyword and a window will open like the one below, showing your quality score for that keyword.

Good quality scores

Good quality scores across your account will improve your ad rank and will help to outrank your competitors. With poor quality scores, you would pay high CPC costs to outrank your competitors and this could leave you heavily out of pocket.

Read my blog on how to improve keyword quality scores

2. CPC Bid

You can set your CPC bids at the campaign, ad group and keyword level. If you want to outrank competitors, increasing bids is the fastest way to achieve that and you will often see results within 24 hours. When you increase your bids, a number of things will happen:
– You are likely to increase your ad position in the auction
– Your position on the search results page is likely to change – Let me explain: If you are in auction position one in the search results and you and other advertisers are on the right side of organic listings with nothing above the organic listings, by increasing your bid, you could get your ad above the organic listings and get more clicks for it.

However, its disadvantage is that it always leads to you spending more for each click and that will increase your costs.

There are two main choices to CPC bidding and they are:

Automatic – This is an easy way to bid and all you do is set your budget and allow the system to adjust your CPCs to bring you the most clicks for your budget. You have less control with this option and you are unlikely to outrank competitors who are determined to achieve high positions

Manual – this is my preferred option because it gives you greater control and you can set separate bids for your keywords. However, you are more likely to get this one wrong especially at the beginning because you will have little data on the average CPC rate.

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