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Is Ranking #1 Really All That Matters For Your Google Ad Strategy?

google ads strategy

When it comes to Google Ads, where they rank matters. You want your message to reach as many targeted consumers as possible. That means if your ad is on the first page, users will click on your ad first and mission accomplished…right? My experience has actually taught me that there might be a better strategy for certain businesses to follow depending on the type of consumer they are targeting and, of course, the budget that the business has to work with.

First, the way I see it, there are 2 kinds internet users.

The first kind of user is overly aware of ads so they tend to avoid Google’s little green ad square and accompanying link extensions. This is most likely the majority of people in 2017, as more and more of our younger and incredibly tech-savvy population are aging into their own unique type of consumer. This group, in addition to being tech savvy, isn’t afraid of doing their research and prides themselves on collecting as much information about a product or service as possible. 

This group is more interested in what marketer’s deem ‘organic search results’ and will click on these first and skip ads altogether unless of course their question isn’t answered or the information they were seeking wasn’t found. I suppose, if you came up with a really unique and unusual ad, it might grab this group’s attention. But let’s face it, unique ads are extremely rare and Google’s ad strategy is to make results look uniform and based on textual content, not images or animations. Essentially, if your ad convinces this type of consumer to click before moving on, congrats, you’re a genius.

The second group consists of consumers who are unaware of the difference between clicking on a Google ad and clicking on an organic search result.  To them, an ad that ranks at the top of the page is just as good as any proceeding results and therefore, why bother scrolling down to the bottom of the page? They will begin their research at the top and work their way down, giving top-level ads the first opportunity to impress and convert. As I mentioned previously, this type of consumer is becoming fewer and farther between, which is why re-examining your Google Ads strategy is worth your time.

So How Do Consumers Really Interact with Ads Online?

It’s safe to say that the consumers from the first group are the ones you should be orienting your ad strategy towards. This group is growing, big on research and therefore willing to do a little digging for the most genuine and organic results. Even if they like what they are seeing from an ad, this group will most likely click on the organic results first before circling back to a top ranking ad, if at all.

This means that if your ad is ranked first, you are probably the first business consumers see, but perhaps, not the first business they click on. It also means you are definitely paying more than your competitors to attract consumers who are dominantly in the group #1 camp, and who will probably give the same weight to all ads. For this group, your competitor’s ads may even seem more legitimate, because they don’t rank as high and all the while they are paying less for their bids.

A New Google Ad Strategy For A New Era

If we assume that all businesses bidding on the same keywords have the same budget, then businesses that bid enough to rank #1 will either wear down their budget quicker or, will be wasting excess funds, because given the behavior of group #1 consumers, their expensive #1 ranking will have little to no effect.

A perfect example of this was when I worked for a company that hired 2 different people to manage their Google Ads for the same audience. My associate’s bids were always high and as a result, he always ranked first. This impressed the owner, but eventually, it was discovered that he was also getting fewer leads and fewer conversions.

Meanwhile, I was making sure that I bid on the lower end of the competition, just enough to cap on the budget, and still appear on the first page of results. My average position was always 3rd or 4th and I was able to bid one-third of the price my associate was bidding, but I was getting a lot more leads and conversions.

Since we were running the same landing page designs (for the most part) and the same ads, there was no real difference except the bidding factor and the keywords. I did spend more time than him on the ads since I needed to adjust the bid more often, but it paid off.

Lessons Earned

Another lesson I’ve learned from a friend working as a construction salesman is that when you work off of leads from Google you will be that lead’s first point of contact. Usually, customers shop around, shuffling through multiple quotes before accepting an offer. So, the customer that saw your ad first and thus contacted you first may circle back to your offer, but it becomes less likely.

So what are the ultimate takeaways?

  • Make sure you are communicating a strong message with your Google Ads or, for that matter, any online or offline marketing initiative.
  • Know that ranking #1 in online searches or being the first to have face time with a customer will not always result in a conversion.
  • Understand that marketing isn’t a race, it’s a strategy, and the ad campaigns that are well thought out and balance quality information with a reasonable budget are the ones that win.
Raz Klinghoffer is a Music Producer and Ads Strategist who has worked with a variety of clients from CBS to Warner Music.
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