Understanding ad position and Ad Rank

Ad position is the order in which your ad shows up on a page. For example, an ad position of "1" means that your ad is the first ad on a page. In general, it's good to have a high ad position because it's likely that more customers will see your ad. Ads can appear on the top of a search results page, on the side of the page, or on the bottom of the page.

How ad position is determined

Elements of Ad Rank

Ad position is determined by your Ad Rank in the auction. Your Ad Rank is a score that's based on your bid and your Quality Score. If you're using the cost-per-click bidding option, your bid is how much you're willing to pay for a single click on your ad. Your Quality Score is a measurement of how relevant and useful your keyword, ad text, and landing page are to what a user is searching for. Note that if you’re using extensions such as sitelinks, the expected impact from those extensions is factored into your Ad Rank.  This means that if two competing ads have the same bid and quality, the ad with the better expected impact from extensions will generally appear in a higher position than the other.

To improve your ad position, you can increase your bid, or you can focus on improving your Quality Score. See the "Next steps" section below for more information about Quality Score and how to optimize your ad position by improving your ad quality.

AdWords essential

The auction: how Google decides which ads to show and their order

Keep in mind

Because of the diversity of websites on the Google Display Network, average position may be less useful in optimizing for performance on this network. If you want to measure performance on the Display Network, we recommend focusing on metrics such as conversions and ROI. Read more on how to evaluate ad performance on the Display Network.

How ads cycle through the search result pages

Google search results page

Ads cycle through the search result pages based on their Ad Rank. The ad with the highest Ad Rank appears in the first eligible position on the search results page. The ad with the second-highest Ad Rank appears beneath it, and so on down the page.

When a customer browses to subsequent search result pages (for example, they click Next to see additional pages of search results), the following two rules typically apply for which ads are eligible to show where:

  • "Top" placement (top of the page): All high-ranking ads are eligible to show in the top positions, provided they exceed a certain Quality Score and cost-per-click (CPC) bid threshold. Up to three ads can show in the top positions on each page.
  • "Other" placement (side or bottom of the page): The side and bottom of a search results page is recorded as "Other" in your AdWords statistics, and can show up to eight ads. Typically, ads that haven't previously appeared in the side or bottom placements are eligible to appear in the side or bottom. For example, if an ad appeared on the side of Page 1, it typically won't appear on the side for Page 2 or later.

Here's an example to help you understand how ads cycle through the search result pages.

Ads 1-25 are available to show for a certain search term, and ads 1-7 are eligible for the top spots. The ads can be ranked on the page like this:

 

Page Top spots "Other" spots
Page 1 Ads 1-3 Ads 4-11
Page 2 Ads 1, 2, 4 Ads 3, 12-18
Page 3 Ads 1, 2, 5 Ads 19-25

Note

Because Quality Score and thresholds are recalculated on every page, ads may sometimes appear in a top spot on one page and then again in an "Other" spot on a subsequent page (or appear in the "Other" spot on one page, and then again in a top spot on the next page). An ad typically will only be shown once in an "Other" spot and will not appear again in that spot on subsequent pages.

Where to find your average ad position

In your AdWords account, you can easily see what your average ad position is. Let's walk through the steps to view your average position:

  1. Sign in to your AdWords account at http://adwords.google.com.
  2. Click the Campaigns tab at the top.
  3. Look for the Avg. Pos. column in the statistics table. If you don't see this column in your table, you can add this column by clicking the Columns button in the toolbar above the statistics table.
Average ad position

You can also click the Ads or Keywords tab to see your average position by ads or by keywords. To see how often your ads have appeared on the top of the page, on the side of the page, or on the bottom of the page, you can segment your data.

Next steps