Target Search Page Location Bidding — Position Matters

We called the company Claim Your Space for a reason—because position matters. Like my post picture up above here. An airplane in the sky, up above the water line—totally normal. The same airplane below the water—not so good.

The threshold is meaningful.

The SEO guys have preached it for years. It’s no less important in paid search.

The folks at advancedwebranking.com have put together excellent data on the subject for a few years now. For example, based on “organic click-through rates for searches coming from 2,031,391 keywords for 37,303 websites” during September 2018:

Screen Shot 2018-12-04 at 5.20.56 PM.png

Top of Page or Bust

Top of page positions regularly enjoy +25% click-through-rates. Towards the bottom of the first page, you can expect less than 1%.

That’s a 25x range in performance!

And this really makes Google Ads bidding a sink-or-swim proposition—especially since we lost those sweet sidebar ads. Remember these?

 We miss sidebar ads!

We miss sidebar ads!


You’re either up top, in the first through 3rd, or maybe 4th position. Or you’re down at the bottom, below the organic listings—down in <1% CTR territory.

New Competitors Can = Big Changes

As paid search marketers we’re in a constant balancing act with bidding. Bidding enough to stay on top, but not overbidding to maintain the highest possible ROI.

We use all sorts of strategies to achieve that end. Bid automation is a big topic. And we’ve watched an explosion of options within Google Ads over the last two years.

We’re up to 10 available bidding strategies in Google Ads (including adding ‘Enhanced CPC’ to manual bidding).

10 different bidding strategy—which to choose?

Adding complexity to that equation—new competitors can enter the auction at any time and really change the landscape.

It happens more often than I wish it would.

Don’t get me started on the fact that since the launch of the new user interface earlier this year, all new search campaigns created in Google Ads default to a “Max Clicks” bidding strategy.

Our tests have shown this could just as well be named “for-sure-pay-the-highest-cpc-possible”.

Target Search Page Location Bidding Can Help

This scenario is exactly what happens to us every year for a client that advertises seasonal products—think snow removal.

Various new competitors enter the marketplace at different times during the season. There are tons of sales from November through February. And the rest of the year doesn’t really matter.

So if we lose top-of-page position during that key sales window—we stand to lose 96% of the available traffic!

If we lose top-of-page position during that key sales window—we stand to lose 96% of the available traffic!

This is what it looks like when it happens:

 Average position starts falling (higher graph position means lower on the search page)—and clicks start falling

Average position starts falling (higher graph position means lower on the search page)—and clicks start falling

Then the bid automation gets to work…

 Target Search Page bidding begins to increase the CPC’s to compensate for lower positions

Target Search Page bidding begins to increase the CPC’s to compensate for lower positions

And we start to see the correction…

 Average position heading back towards top-of-page…and click volume trend heading back in the right direction

Average position heading back towards top-of-page…and click volume trend heading back in the right direction

And Viola—Competition Foiled

Well not exactly. We still have a rising CPC to content with. Which will for sure affect profitability.

But falling off the top results or even worse to the 2nd page would do much more damage than putting a dent in profitability.

These guys are used to getting 100+ orders per day from their store during the busy season. If they only end up getting 5 orders because their ads drop off, there are no happy campers!