Can You Rank High and Pay Low in Google Ads?

The short answer to that question is Yes.  Contrary to popular belief, Google Ads doesn’t reward the highest bidder.  Always keep in mind that Google’s general effectiveness and success is measured by how well a search result matches a user’s search query!  If Google found what you were looking for, then everybody wins.  If Google serves you pages that have you blindly bouncing in and out of them, then they did a poor job helping you out.  The same general search concept applies to Google Ads.  If Ads software notices that a user became heavily engaged in an ad they clicked on, they will give that particular ad a higher value, and lower its net cost per click.

Each term you are bidding on has a “quality” score assigned to it.  The “quality” score measures if your term’s intention is relevant to your landing page or is it merely a click bait term.  The higher your term’s quality score, the less you pay per click.  Let me give you two examples, of a good quality score and of a bad quality score.

Scenario A:  Jesse sells refurbished Apple computers.  Jesse bids on the following terms:  used Apple computers, refurbished Macs, used Apple laptops.  The landing page that this ad goes to is a store page full of used Apple computers.

In this instance users who are looking for used Apple computers will land on a page that offers exactly that!   Users are much more likely to spend a good amount of time browsing around, clicking on different pages and engaging more with the site, and might possibly make a purchase (or a future visit).

Scenario B:  Pat sells new computer parts.  Pat bids on a variety of terms such as: keyboards, flash drives, monitors, refurbished Macs and so on.  Even though Pat doesn’t have any refurbished Macs, Pat is trying to have people come to the site as that term is semi-relevant.  The landing page has all sorts of new computer parts but no used Macs.

Users are likely to click on Pat’s ad, look around for refurbished Macs and when their search is unsuccessful, they will bounce back out and probably click on the next ad down.

In Scenario A, Google is very likely to give those search terms a high quality score as the visitors 1) spent more time on the site, 2) clicked deeper into the site (clicked on more pages) and 3) possibly made a purchase or a future visit.  This is healthy engagement, and very strong intention for those terms.  In other words this is a win-win in the Google algorithm.

In Scenario B, Google is likely to lower the quality score when searchers click on the term refurbished Macs and land on Pat’s site because visitors who were looking for a used Mac were not able to find any.

Google Ads Quality Score Discounting

Although this isn’t published data, there is a lot of evidence that shows the following discounts are applied to different term quality scores:

Quality Score of 10 gets you up to a 50% discount on your bid
Quality Score of 9 gets you up to a 45% discount on your bid
Quality Score of 8 gets you up to a 36% discount on your bid

Quality Score of 5 is their benchmark

Quality Score of 3 has you pay 65% more per click!
Quality Score of 2 has you pay 150% more per click!
Quality Score of 1 has you pay 350% more per click!

Google tries to discourage broad bidding on a large pool of terms as this becomes unfavorable to general shoppers.  There is a lot of strategy that goes into bidding, so feel free to contact me if you need help with your Google Ads or Bing/Yahoo Ads.