Getting your ads above Google search results

When customers search on Google, ads can appear at the top of the page, on the side of the page, or on the bottom of the page. Only the highest ranking ads are eligible to show at the top of the page. Your ad's position on the page is determined by your Quality Score and your bid. We'll show you what top ads look like and how we choose them, and give you some tips to improve your ad's position.

What top ads look like

Ads at the top of the page may look slightly different than ads in other positions on a search results page. Top ads are wider, and can fit both lines of description beneath your visible URL. In some cases, if we've determined that your first description line is clearly a complete phrase or sentence, we might add part of your description to your headline, creating a longer, more noticeable headline.

When there's enough space, we may also add your website's domain to your ad's headline. The domain will be separated from your headline by a visual separator to make it easy for users to see, such as a vertical pipe ("|"), hyphen, or other separator.

Top ads also often include ad extensions, such as sitelinks, location extensions, or call extensions.

Example of a top ad

How AdWords chooses top ads

An ad's position on the page is based on your Ad Rank (a combination of your bid, the quality of your ad and landing page, and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats). To be eligible for a top spot, your Ad Rank needs to meet a minimum threshold. The minimum Ad Rank required to appear above search results is generally greater than the minimum Ad Rank to appear beside search results. As a result, the cost-per-click (CPC) when you appear above search results could be higher than the CPC if you appear beside search results, even if no other advertisers are immediately below you. Although you may pay more per click, top ads usually have higher click-through rates and give you access to certain ad extensions (like sitelinks) and other features available only in top ad positions. As always, you’re never charged more than your max CPC bid.

Ads at the top of a page generally have the following qualities:

  • High relevance: The ad text, keywords, and landing page are relevant to people who click the ad.
  • Good performance over time: The ad consistently generates clicks.
  • Competitive bids: The ad's bid is competitive with other advertisers and exceeds the top of page bid estimate.

We can only show up to three ads at the top of a search results page. Because Quality Score and thresholds are recomputed on every page, ads can sometimes appear in a top spot on one page and then again in a side spot on the following page.

How you can help your ads make it to the top

Here are some tips on how to get your ads eligible for the top spots:

  • Focus on relevance: Make sure your keywords, ads, and landing pages are relevant to what customers are searching for. If your ads aren't relevant, they might show, but they won't get as many clicks – this leads to poor performance over time.
  • Keep your keyword list fresh: Are you using the right keywords to reach your customers? Try using the Keyword Planner to get ideas for new keywords that you may want to add to your list.
  • Keep your bid competitive: Try keeping your bid high enough so that you can compete with other advertisers who are also bidding on the same keywords you are. Look through the top of page bid estimates to help you figure out how much you probably need to bid to compete for a top spot on the page.
  • Check your account often: Making small but regular improvements now could have a big impact later on.

Note

Keep in mind that the top position may not always be the best one for everyone's budget and goals. For example, let's say Mary's cost per click is $3 while in the top spot, and she makes $5 in sales when she gets a click. Meanwhile, Sam's cost per click is $1 while in a lower position, but makes $4 in sales when he gets a click. In this case, Sam makes less in sales per click, but earns a higher profit per click.