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Understanding the First Page Bid Estimate in AdWords

Any AdWords advertiser will know the value of prominently displaying ads on the first page of search results on Google. In order to do this, however, it’s necessary to understand what a first page bid estimate is and then to know that even if the first page bid estimate is met, in some cases the ad still may not appear on the first page of results.

The estimated First Page Bid amount within an AdWords account approximates the cost-per-click (CPC) bid needed for the ad to reach the first page of Google search results when a search query exactly matches the keyword. This estimate is based on the Quality Score and current advertiser competition for that keyword. There is also an estimated Top Page Bid that approximates the CPC bid needed for your ad to appear regularly in the top positions above the main search results.

When managing an AdWords campaign, these estimated bid levels can be seen in the Keywords view, by adding new columns to the standard settings. These estimates can then help an advertiser to make better bidding decisions. On average, ads that appear on the first page or above the search results tend to get substantially more clicks than ads that appear on other search results pages or alongside the search results.

If your first page bid estimate is very high, it may mean that your keyword’s Quality Score is poor or that competition for that term is high. The first page bid estimate is a guide, meant to give you greater insight with which to plan your bidding strategy – but meeting your first page bid estimate isn’t a guarantee of ad position. Ad position will still depend on competition from other advertisers, the components of your Quality Score (expected click-through rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience), your CPC bid, the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats, the budget and account settings, and user and advertiser behaviour.

First page bid estimates try to estimate the bid needed for your ad to generally reach the first page of search results for the device(s) that you’re targeting. If you’re running a campaign that is only serving on a single device, the bid estimate will reflect the bid required to generally reach the first page of search results on that device. Otherwise, the estimate will reflect the bid generally required across all devices, which can include mobiles, where there are fewer ads shown on the first page of search results.

In some cases, your ad may still rank on the first page even if the first page bid level isn’t reached, or it might not appear on the first page of search results even if first page bid estimate is met! Therefore it’s necessary to keep in mind that this estimate is a guideline, based on your keyword’s Quality Score and recent advertiser competition that applies to search queries exactly matching your keyword. It isn’t a guarantee about your where your ad will appear, but it does indicate that you may be losing out on possible search impressions for your target market.

Below are a few common reasons your ad might not show on the first page, even when you meet this bid estimate:

  • Other advertiser activity: There could be new competition on your keywords.
  • Search customer activity: The searches customers are performing might not match up exactly with your keywords.
  • Budget changes: If you’ve changed your budget recently and it’s been spent, your ad might not run.

If your ads continue to not appear on the first page of search results when you meet the first page bid estimate, then it’s necessary to improve your Ad Rank. You can read about understanding ad position and Ad Rank here.

If you want to know more about bidding strategies and how we can help to improve your AdWords campaigns, please contact us now for details.