Google Ads: The 6 Factors That Influence Ad Rank

Google Ads is very competitive. There are 40,000 search queries every second on Google. That is about 3.5 billion queries per day! Advertisers compete to have their ads shown at a high ad position on almost every query.

As of December 2022, Google had 84% of the global search market. Google Ads helps to drive sales, gain targeted leads, increase website traffic and build brand awareness.

So, how can advertisers improve their ad positions on Google Ads? In this article, I discuss the importance of Ad Rank in the Google Ads auctions and the important factors that impact Ad Rank.

What is Ad Rank?

Ad Rank is a value that determines the position of your ads on the Google search results page compared to competing ads, and if your ads are eligible to be shown at all.

Every time there is a search query, Google Ads runs an instantaneous auction of eligible ads to determine the Ad Rank.

Your Ad Rank is re-calculated every time your ad is eligible to appear since the factors that impact Ad Rank change with every auction. The position of your ads can therefore change with every auction.

Why is Ad Rank Important?

The Ad with the highest Ad Rank compared to the other ads will be shown first on the search results for a relevant search term. This will be followed by the Ad with the next highest Ad Rank and so on.

Ads that are shown in the top positions on the SERP (search results page) get more visibility and clicks.

Google sets minimum Ad Rank thresholds that ads need to meet to be eligible to be shown above or below the organic search results. Ads that do not meet the minimum Ad Rank thresholds will not be shown on Google at all.

The example shows the google ads that came up for a search query for “memory foam dog bed” along with their ad positions.
Ad Rank Example: Ad positions above the organic search results.

Video on the 6 Factors That Influence Ad Rank

The 6 Factors That Influence Ad Rank

In Google Ads, the ad auction determines the Ad Rank of eligible ads. There are 6 factors that impact the Ad Rank of your ads:

1. Your Maximum CPC Bid

The Max CPC (cost per click) Bid is the maximum amount you are willing to pay for a click on your ad. You can set the Max CPC bid at the ad group or keyword level.

You should use the Google keyword planner tool to research keywords and set a competitive max CPC value for your keywords. The actual CPC you are charged may be less than the max CPC bid you set.

2. Your Ad Quality Score

The Quality Score is a diagnostic tool that is used to estimate the quality of your ads and landing pages compared to competing advertisers. It evaluates the relevance and usefulness of your ad and website landing page to the person who reads the ad.

Quality Score is rated from 1-10. You can view the quality score for each keyword in the keyword tables.

The Quality Score is very important in determining the Ad Rank. Higher quality ads are shown in better ad positions, get more clicks and have lower actual CPC costs. Ad quality also determines if your ads are eligible to run ad assets (or ad extensions.)

Quality Score factors include Expected CTR, Ad Relevance and Landing Page Experience

Quality Score Factors

The Quality Score is based on 3 main factors:

    1. Expected CTR

      Expected CTR is a prediction of the ad clickthrough rate when the ad is shown. It is based on historical clicks and impressions when the ad is shown on the search results. To increase the expected CTR, include your important keywords in your ad text especially in the headlines. Highlight the benefits of your product or service in the ad description and use a strong call to action to encourage people to click on the ad.

    2. Ad Landing Page Experience

      A relevant and original website landing page results in a higher Quality Score. Ads should send clicks to landing pages that provide content and images related to the information in the ad, along with a strong call to action. In addition, the website should be easy to navigate and the business contact information should be easy to find.

    3. Ad Relevance

      Ad relevance measures how well your ad matches the intent of the search query. It ensures that only the most relevant and useful ads are shown for a search query. To increase ad relevance, use your main search keywords in your ad text. Also, target the right locations and languages for your ads.

      Responsive search ads, which are now the default search ad format, help to increase ad relevance since there are multiple headlines and descriptions to match the search query.

Each of these 3 Quality Score factors will be evaluated as “Above Average”, “Average” or “Below Average”.

For more information, read my article on The Importance of Quality Score on the Moz blog.

3. Ad Rank Thresholds

Google sets minimum Ad Rank thresholds for ads to meet before they can be shown on their search results. There are ad rank thresholds that ads need to meet to be shown either above or below the organic search results. Ads that do not meet the minimum Ad Rank thresholds will not be shown at all. This is another reason to continually work on the ad rank factors to ensure that your ad rank remains high.

4. Context of Search Query

Search context is also used to determine the Ad Rank. To determine search context, Google evaluates the search terms, the location of the searcher, the device used for the search query, the time of the search, the other ads that are shown on the search results page and other user signals.

5. Impact of Ad Assets and Ad Formats

There are several types of ad assets (or ad extensions) that you can add to your ads when you create them. These include call extensions with your phone number, location extensions with your business address, site links to important web pages, services offered and more. Google evaluates the ad assets that run with the ad and the ad formats for Ad Rank. You should add as many relevant ad assets as possible when you set up your ad.

The example shows ad assets or ad extensions shown with these Google Ads.

Example of Ad Assets or Ad Extensions shown with Google Ads.

Example of Ad Assets

6. Auction Competitiveness

If two competing ads have the same Ad Rank, both may be qualified for the same ad position. In this case, the ad that pays a higher max CPC bid is more likely to win the ad position. This is a good reason to ensure that you set a competitive maximum CPC bid for your keywords.

By improving each of these 6 factors, you can improve the Ad Rank of your ads in the Google Ads auction and compete to have your ad shown in higher ad positions.

How is Ad Rank Calculated?

Google does not disclose the details of how Ad Rank is calculated. However the Ad Rank formula is estimated to be:

Ad Rank = Max CPC bid x Quality Score
(plus the additional factors like ad formats, Ad Rank thresholds, search context and auction competitiveness.)

Having the highest bid does not mean that your Ad will be shown at the top of the page. Your Quality Score is very important for determining the Ad Rank.

Here is an example of the Ad Rank calculation for 4 advertisers competing for top ad positions in the Google search results:

Google Ads Ad Rank Table showing how the Ad Rank affects the Ad position.

Google Ads Ad Rank Table

Advertiser 1 had the lowest CPC bid, but a very high quality score, and their Ad was shown in position 1 on the SERP.

Advertiser 4 had the highest CPC bid, but a low quality score, and their Ad was shown in position 4.

In the example, if the Ad Rank threshold to be shown above the organic search results is 40, only advertisers 1 and 2 will qualify to have their ads shown above the search results.

If the minimum Ad Rank to be shown below the organic search results is 35, advertiser 3 will qualify to have their ads shown at the bottom of the page.

Advertiser 4 has an Ad Rank below the minimum ad rank threshold of 35. Even though they had the highest max CPC bid, their ads will not be qualified to be shown on the Google search results for that search query.


Google Ads runs an ad auction for every search query to determine the Ad Rank of eligible ads. Ad Rank is very important and is used to determine both the ad position of the ad on the search results as well as the eligibility of the ad to be shown at all.

The 6 Ad Rank factors influence the Ad Rank value of your Google ads. By improving each of the Ad Rank factors, you can improve your ad’s position and eligibility in Google’s search results. This will help to increase your ad visibility and marketing performance and help your business to get ahead of the competition.

Related Articles

      1. Tanuja Mahdavi, Understanding the Google Ads Auction and Why Ad Rank is Important
      2. Google Ads Bidding Strategies: A Guide for Marketing Campaigns [2022]
      3. Gold Mango Design, How to Use Responsive Search Ads: 10 Best Practices
      4. Gold Mango design, What is Google Ads PPC Marketing and How it Helps Your Business
      5. Gold Mango Design, 8 Benefits of Google Ads Advertising

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