Why Average Position Means So Much

Why Average Position Means So Much

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Date Published:
Sunday, January 27, 2019

Recently a client asked how much average position matters in Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaigns. The short answer is “A LOT,” but we, of course, want to provide more detail on why SEM average position is important.Reviewing our entire Adwords MCC from January to May 2017, this evaluates average click-through-rate (CTR) by average position.To provide a brief summary, the better the average position, the more likely an ad is to be clicked. Here you can see a significant drop between average positions one to two. CTR becomes almost non-existent at the average position of three.

Total overall.

Since Google updated the search results page (SRP) last year, mobile and desktop SRPs are more similar than ever. Both can have up to four ads at the top which ensures organic results are below the fold for mobile, and also making this possible for desktop.Looking at mobile versus desktop results below, you can see that the similar SRPs result in similar trends on desktop and mobile. While CTR is better on mobile, both devices experience the drop in CTR as average position worsens.

Mobile average position.
Desktop average position.

Different types of campaigns perform differently, this is seen in performance metrics across the board. Reviewing average position by click through rate is no exception. We reviewed three main types of campaigns to review how these two metrics impact each other:

  • Brand - keywords include the actual name of the business (“Mignon’s Honda”)
  • Dealer Area - keywords include geographical and near me terms + make (ie. “Toyota Near Me”)
  • Model - keywords include intent searches for users shopping for a new vehicle (ie. “2017 Forte for sale”)

After reviewing these campaign types exclusively, we see that each of them have their best CTR with as they are closer to the top position. All campaigns see a steep decline in CTR as average position approaches two and then an increase at some point thereafter.

Brand campaign

Brand campaign average.

Dealer Area Campaign

Dealer area average position.

New Model Campaigns

New model average position.

Reviewing this data in several ways, it is apparent that users are far more likely to click an advertisement when it has a better average position. I want to be clear that I am not suggesting to increase every keyword bid to the point of having a top average position 100% of the time. That decision is to the discretion of the client and campaign manager, taking into account the importance of certain keywords to the business as well as the SEM performance metrics (cost per click, cost per conversion, overall budget and so much more) of each keyword.The purpose of all SEM campaigns is to drive relevant traffic to a website with the end goal the user will take a desired action, also known as a conversion. The better average position of an SEM ad, the more likely that traffic will be sent to a website. Due to this, average position is very important.

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