Don't Fall Off Page One: Heed the Orange Warning in AdWords

Mind the orange warning in AdWords - Below First Page Bid - Portent

One of the first indicators of performance I check for all my major clients’ paid search accounts is keyword Status. In this column, we see the overall health of the keywords in the account, including “Low search volume,” and whether ads are being shown “Rarely due to a low quality score.” But the orange warning in AdWords of “Below first page bid” is a flashing red light (or orange to be exact) that shouldn’t be ignored.

Heed the Orange Warning in AdWords - Below first page bid warning - Portent
Heed the Orange Warning in AdWords - Below first page bid warning - Portent

This reads to me: "Your Check Engine Light is On." Many of these bids are for brand keywords, and absolutely need to be bid up.

Our friends at Google tell us that “more than 9 out of 10 clicks happen on Page 1.” Pay close attention to that number. Your chances of capturing potential customers on your website are over 90% less likely to happen once your ad falls to Page 2.

How many more clicks do you get on the first page of Google AdWords
How many more clicks do you get on the first page of Google AdWords

A not-so-subtle reminder from Google within the AdWords interface

Think of it this way, when the Patriots won Superbowl LI in an epic comeback, did the Boston Globe bury that story on page 4? No! Above the fold on Page 1 it goes. When the new season of Stranger Things comes out in October, do you think Netflix will bury its release for fans under the “Recently Added” section? No way! It will be prominently featured at the top of the Home screen. Why? Because these are the most relevant and highest quality results to the people most likely to consume them.

Ad platforms have been working hard over the years to ensure the ads on Page 1 are the most relevant to the user — and aren’t solely reserved for the highest bidders. It makes more sense now that these spots are the most highly coveted.

Yes, yes, I know. I get it — some Page 1 bid estimates are just plain cost prohibitive for some advertisers. And, to prove that point, some advertisers have even built their PPC strategy exclusively around lower ad and page positioning.

So, if your industry’s Page 1 keyword bids are becoming too expensive for you, here are a few key factors that need to be addressed:

  • Are you regularly looking at your Search Terms report for the highest quality and lowest CPA keywords to add?
  • Is your daily budget spread too thin across campaigns to compete successfully in the auction?
  • If you’re not able to increase your daily spend across your campaigns, take a moment to review your business objectives for paid search. Go lean. Shifting budget from poor performers to campaigns that directly tie to your core business goals will ensure you can still have a presence on Page 1 and, in turn, see better results. IE: Make sure you have enough budget to appear on Page 1 for your core business objectives first. Use what’s left over for your secondary goals.

Maintaining first page presence has become easier to manage within AdWords with pre-set Automated bid strategies. There are multiple choices baked right into the Campaign settings page that allows AdWords to automatically raise or lower bids to reach your preferred page location. Once set, AdWords calibrates throughout the day to optimize bids to your preferred position.

Heed the Orange Warning in AdWords Using Bid Strategy - Portent
Heed the Orange Warning in AdWords Using Bid Strategy - Portent

Automated Bid strategy types in AdWords. P.S. That catch by Edelman, though!

Previously, managing page position could be done through Automated Rules – which is still a viable option if you’re hoping to beat the AdWords Calibration Clock. In the example below, I am bidding Brand Campaigns to top of page based on traffic from the previous day using Automated Rules.

Automated Rule Creation in Adwords - Portent
Automated Rule Creation in Adwords - Portent

A look at an Automated Rule created for bid-setting

While page position is never guaranteed, I have found little variance in Average Position for my most relevant and highest quality keywords while testing both methods. As always, the best advice is to test the options and benefits of these strategies as they apply to your own goals. And, of course, optimize often!

Kerri McCarthy

Portent Alum
Portent Alum

Kerri began her Search Engine Marketing career at Google in 2003, and served at Portent as a Sr. PPC Strategist. She is now a proud Portent alum.

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