The place your product listing ads or search campaigns rank with Google ads has the potential of making or breaking your entire eCommerce business.
So it makes sense to put just a little bit of extra effort into ensuring your brand is ranking as high as possible. I mean, what’s the point of spending valuable ad budget on Google otherwise?
This is a topic which has essentially haunted eCommerce store owners using Google ads to run their brand for years. Mainly because most don’t know just how this should be done.
And while I personally can only explain things based on my own experience and through the information Google ads provides, how things actually work in the backend is a mystery.
But exactly why is something that has the potential of making or breaking our eCommerce brands such a mystery?
The reality is, ranking higher with Google ads on its own is a very broad topic. There are many external factors that come together to make a product or ad rank in the first place.
And these factors also get influenced by many external scenarios most eCommerce store owners have no control over.
Lets go over some basics of ranking higher or in general with Google ads before we dive deep into how it’s done.
Google Ads Ranking: The Basics
You might have searched for a product in the past that you personally wanted to purchase on Google. Chances are also high you might have clicked on one of the shopping ads that showed up at the top or a search ad scattered on the search page.
Which one did you click on and purchase from?
If you’re like most consumers, your sale probably went to the one showing at the very front or one of those that you see in the top 5 to top 10 sections. And there would be nothing wrong in that.
I mean, who wants to look through pages and pages of shopping or search ads just to find a product?
This is the mentality 99% of shoppers come onto Google with. In the world we live in today, everything is one thing away.
One click to purchase that favorite thing. One day away from having it delivered. One click to contact support if unsatisfied.
It just doesn’t make sense for a normal consumer to go through page after page when Google often has filters that let them find the lowest price if that’s what they want or price comparisons.
And due to the mentality of consumers, it becomes even more important to be visible in an area where customers are actually shopping in. Otherwise, you might as well just burn your money.
The truth is, the product listing ads you see right after you search something up or the search ads right below the shopping listings are only a small part of the whole. There are hundreds upon hundreds of competitors that didn’t even rank with the auction that just took place.
Where your eCommerce brand ranks with Google ads not only gives you much more awareness and growth potential, but it also puts you at the top as an authority.
But exactly how is this ad rank even determined to begin with?
How Google Ads Decides AD Rank
Like with everything, Google loves to overcomplicate things and then leave out most of the important information from advertisers.
As if we’re in a real life episode of Squid Games trying to fight for our rank through some masked policies.
From my own personal experience running Google ads for eCommerce brands for the past five years now, I’ve come to realize that there are multiple factors affecting ad rank. Factors such as:
- Bounce rates
- Ad relevance
All these factors directly impact the position you end up ranking with product listing ads as well as search campaigns. Keep in mind there are certain differences when it comes to shopping vs search but the overall framework is the same.
On a broad level, Google gets all of the information needed by submitting your products to an auction. An auction that takes place within a split second after a potential customer searches for one of your products.
And along with your ads, all your competitors enter this one auction to compete with each other. Those brands that have a higher ranking usually do so because they have all of the necessary elements mentioned above in place.
Once Google understands this, it begins to push these “winning” ads more to the front every single time as the audience, Google’s and your brand’s customers, are favoring these ads or products.
It’s time to add a bit of external factors to these metrics to see how they can even be improved in the first place. And this begins with SEO.
I’ve been mentioning the importance of SEO in basically every single Google ads video I released on my channel for a reason. Simply put, Google ads runs on SEO.
Think about it for a second; how do you tell the Google ads algorithm to find your ideal audience members?
Through interests? Or through direct audience selection? Or maybe with custom audiences based off of past data?
The answer is none of these.
We all know that with Google, there is no interest we can choose to target our ads correctly. This means the algorithm is deciding all this information based on the product pages you have.
In essence, these product pages are the ads for shopping ads and search ads to an extent. They determine everything.
The Google ads algorithm crawls the product page from left to right, top to bottom to identify keywords that can help it identify the product. And this is where SEO keywords come into play.
Some of the major things that get influenced due to proper keyword research include:
- Ad relevancy
It’s crucial that you go out and not only do proper keyword research, but also find the right kind of keywords that you can rank for without breaking the bank. These keywords are the building blocks of the perfect SEO strategy which, in turn, impacts your ad rank.
The next most critical portion of improving ad rank is by making the feed better. And while SEO had a pretty straightforward optimization path, the feed requires a bit of extra work.
Some of the major things that can be edited in the feed include the Google Product category, custom attributes, and detailed product characteristics.
While the actual optimization side of things isn’t too difficult, spreading out the edits across different products becomes a hassle, especially when there are many SKUs. The main task here is relevancy.
All the added edits need to be as relevant as possible for the ad rank to be impacted in a meaningful way. And this often means getting as granular as possible with the selections.
Keep in mind, once a backend change is made, it does require time to properly get tested and to perform as expected.
While there are many external factors that affect ad rank, there is nothing more important than the product itself.
Simply put, a product with few competitors will often not require as much work to make profitable and get a high ad rank compared to one with many competitors. As I mentioned earlier, one of the defining factors of ad rank is the bid.
When it comes to extremely competitive products, you often have to bid just as high to ensure it gets shown to the ideal audience. Bid too low and you risk not spending any budget at all.
The reality is, every product works on a certain given bid. It simply doesn’t make sense to overbid just to get a high ad rank if that means putting the account at risk of unprofitability.
With this in mind, it becomes even more important to ensure the products you sell have decent profit margins that let you bid to an ideal level without going into a full loss. In addition, the next defining factor of ad rank is the CTR.
With a product that has many competitors, a potential customer has the ability to compare prices and select the one they find best. This adds an external piece of variability since CTRs can fluctuate significantly.
And again, maintaining a decent CTR involves bidding enough and ensuring the product ad itself has factors that make it stand out from the rest.
So exactly what’s the solution behind all this?
Maintaining the right bid on its own is an art; it takes a lot of testing to actually perfect. But one perfect way to go about this, especially if your ad account has tons of data, is to rely more on smart bidding.
Performance Max campaigns were designed to ease the control the advertiser had and let the algorithm do most of the heavy lifting. This ensures that your ads (in most cases) run at ideal bids that can leave you profitable at the end.
Running standard shopping campaigns with TROAS is also an ideal alternative when it comes to smart bidding. The important thing is that your ad account should have decent number of conversions prior to this addition.
In terms of the CTRs, this depends on a lot of varying factors, ranging from product image to SEO within titles to the product itself. While some of these can’t be controlled directly, it’s crucial that you focus on perfecting the things that a customer sees on the shopping or search listing side of things.
But the real success with ad rank comes from the campaign strategy itself.
Campaign Strategy For Ad Rank Improvements
A good campaign strategy can not only take an eCommerce brand to the next level, but it can also ensure the ads continuously appear at the top due to a good ad rank. But defining an ideal strategy that can improve ad rank isn’t simple.
There are many things that need to be accounted for before an actual ad strategy is launched.
For all eCommerce brands I work with, the first step is to always understand the audience itself and how it interacts with similar products. This is because an audience of a low ticket store is much different compared to that of a high ticket store.
This process consists of checking on the top 10 competitors appearing with shopping or search ads and understanding how the website layout and overall funnel this. The analysis done here leads us onto the second step: campaign launch.
With this step, it doesn’t necessarily matter whether new campaigns are needed or the ones you currently have running need to be tweaked. The overall fundamentals are the same regardless.
One thing I’ve come to understand after working with hundreds of low ticket and high ticket stores is that the overall audience and competition reacts completely differently to the ads.
The strategy that has almost always resulted in a greater ad rank for both low ticket and high ticket stores is the standard shopping 2:1 launch. Launching a brand new ad account with this strategy sets it up for a high ad rank right from the beginning.
Things get more complicated as the data trickles in and the brand starts to get conversions, however. This is when the separation of strategies happens for high ticket vs low ticket brands.
Low ticket stores work the best with a continuous flow of traffic from standard shopping campaigns because with the smarter ones like Pmax, the bids can surge dramatically. While this surge might increase ad rank in the short term, it’s actually deadly in the long term for the brand.
And this is because Google’s algorithm can detect things such as the overall bounce rate and if customers are flowing through the funnel or not. Having too high of a bid, which is often the case with smart bidding for low ticket brands, leads to an extremely broad audience.
And this broad audience might not be the highest buying intent type, causing ad rank to actually lower. With standard shopping campaigns or even search for that matter, setting certain bids that aren’t too high is the right way to go.
And when it comes to higher ticket stores, the opposite is true.
The ideal strategy for high AOV brands is to convert to smart bidding based campaigns as quickly as possible. While high CPCs are to be expected initially, smart bidding campaigns are designed to work off the data coming in to optimize further.
And the main reason they work here is because higher AOV generally means brands have a higher tolerance level when it comes to ad spend. This allows the campaign to spend thoroughly before coming down to an ideal level.
Once that happens, conversions become steady and growth is imminent because the algorithm found the perfect bid range that positively impacts the ad rank.
Long Term Optimization
Taking care of your backend and campaign strategy can have monumental impacts on your ad rank but the real icing on top of the cake comes from the optimizations you do.
Simply put, if you make the necessary adjustments one time and just forget about them, the ad listings will become stale. It’s almost like riding a bicycle; the more you pedal, the faster you go.
The moment you begin to stop pedaling, friction starts working against you and actually slowing you down.
So even though the backend or campaign strategies you’re currently using are getting you optimal results, it’s crucial to go in every 14 to 30 days and take another look at what’s going on to see if improvements can be made.
With this strategy, I prefer to begin with competitor analysis to see if new ones have entered the market or old ones have fixed up their ads. Doing this can increase their ad rank and that would mean there’s a chance your own ad rank became lower.
The easiest way to go with optimization is to simply A/B test.
And the things you decide to actually test should be based on the factors that directly impact the ranking. Things such as SEO keywords, images, bids, landing page optimizations, and more.
The way these get tested doesn’t matter as much as how long you keep the tests running for and whether the test received enough impressions.
Long Term Growth Potential
Ranking improvements should never be looked at as a short term strategy simply because changing the rank takes a while on its own. But when it comes to products that are already selling well, changes should be made cautiously.
While having a greater ad rank is crucial for the long term success of your brand, Google’s algorithm also optimizes better when less frequent changes are made.
It becomes much more important to focus on improving the ad rank of your products or search listings while letting Google understand and optimize on the last change you made.
The last thing you want to happen is to lower ad rank completely by making changes too frequently.
Scaling Further With Google Ads
When it comes to Google ads, the ranking itself is only a piece of the puzzle.
There are many other factors that determine how well your Google ads campaigns perform and, as a result, how much you end up scaling your eCommerce brand. But trying to navigate through the Google ads real all on your own can definitely be a bit tedious.
For the past 5 years, I’ve been focused on Google ads and have developed strategies that just work regardless of niche or industry. So if you’re already doing $30,000 or more per month in revenue with your eCommerce brand and want to scale further with Google ads, schedule a free call with me here.
You get an information filled strategy report you get to keep even if we don’t work together.