One of the oldest and still hotly contested debates in AdWords is just how much value there is (or isn’t) in bidding for the top position. Much of the time, marketers and executives will bid for the top position for their keywords in the pursuit of that winning feeling.

There’s no denying it, we all know that feeling of seeing our company at the top of a search engine results page. But, I want to take a look at the difference between the top spot, and positions below it. How does the rank of your ad impact its results? Does it differ on Google vs. their search partners? I’m a certified AdWords partner in Melbourne and a bit of a nerd, so I love this stuff, and found the results very interesting.

Top vs. Not

I started looking at data over approximately 1 year, across a variety of industries and search terms. This data can be pulled from Google using the Top vs. Other segment where you can pull this data for specific levels of your own accounts and brands.

The differences when combining all search traffic (Google + Partners) makes a very compelling case for top placements.

Not only does the consumer click at a rate that is approximately ten times, the conversion rate is double, and the cost per click is almost one half. Pretty compelling hey?

This all adds up to greater numbers of sales, at a lower CPA (Cost Per Acquisition).

Google vs. Partners

The difference for the partner network also tells us a pretty interesting story.

Google outperforms the partner network in click through rate and conversion rate, however with a price tag attached as the CPCs (Cost Per Clicks) are higher.

According to recent reports, Google experienced 2% growth in partner traffic vs. a 40% growth in their own traffic. I’m sure that some of the shifts in their partner network have a lot to do with this, but maybe advertisers are getting savvier with their data and opting out of the partner network for these very reasons?

What should you do with this info?

  1. Lift the lid on your own metrics. What do they tell you? Measuring top position is almost never the right metric to judging success, however understanding the building blocks that make up your success is important obviously. Take the time to review this data, or bring in an expert that can help you – like me 🙂
  2. Have you considered if the search network is right for you? If you are running on a tight budget then it probably doesn’t make sense to extend your full keyword list to the partner network. But… this doesn’t have to be an all or nothing approach. Choose your best performing (or preferred keywords for a particular reason – highest profit yield etc) across the networks.

There’s a wealth of enormously beneficial information hidden in your data. Taking the time to analyse and understand it, to make informed decisions is what will set your campaigns apart from your competition. As a certified AdWords partner Melbourne I would love to hear from you and discuss this further.

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