Exploring Beyond Position 1: Achieving Optimal Awareness and Conversions

Post by James McGinn, Senior Media Manager

Is position 1.0 really the highest you can achieve? The short, technical answer, is yes. But even when your keywords are in position 1, there may be opportunity for additional volume and conversions with ad extensions and increased bids.

It is common for advertisers to have a branded keyword objective of maintaining position 1 on the search engine results page (SERP), to reinforce brand equity and capture awareness generated from other channels. For one Performics client, we discovered that pushing bids on our brand keywords that were already in position 1 led to an increase in conversions.

A New Discovery

We leveraged a custom bid tool for the client, which used historical keyword conversion performance by position to determine optimal bid/position for each keyword, so that we could achieve incremental conversions. We began using the tool and saw an unexplained increase in clicks, cost, and conversions from our brand terms, even though they were already in Position 1. Initially stumped as to the cause, we began digging deeper into the backend data from URL tracking parameters.

The reporting indicated that our keyword click volume was flat post-launch of the bid tool. Yet, we saw a huge increase in click volume associated with the separately tagged sitelinks. We verified these findings in the search engine through the “this extension vs other” segment on the Ad Extensions tab in Google AdWords. Comparing the first 2 weeks of using the bid tool to the preceding 2 weeks, we saw the following increases in our branded sitelink performance:

  • Clicks: 60.9%
  • Impressions: 45.8%
  • Cost: 44.4%
  • Conversions: 32.7%

Understanding the Results & Applying Learnings

We believe that by increasing the bids on our brand terms, we increased the likelihood of our sitelinks displaying. We basically told Google’s system that we were willing to pay more for clicks, so it displayed our sitelinks more often (because we were already in position 1 and couldn’t go any higher on the SERP). Google essentially confirmed this theory by including “expected extension performance” when calculating ad rank.

Most search marketers instinctively stop pushing bids once keywords reach position 1. But our research indicates that there may be opportunity to continue to increase bids once keywords have reached the top position on the SERP. Sitelinks and other ad extensions may be more likely to appear, which can lead to more clicks and conversions.


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