Number one! Top of the search results! First position! It sounds like the ideal place to be…right? But it isn’t necessarily going to get you the best return for your ad spend, and at the end of the day, that’s much more important. So, here are three things to consider before you start cranking up your bids to outrank the competition.

What are you trying to achieve?

If the answer is brand protection because competitors are bidding on your brand terms, then it makes sense to be in the top spot. You’ll have all the advantages of being the brand, such as high search relevancy ratings, which will benefit you with lower click costs, and by bidding up to maintain your position, you’ll force your competitors to pay a premium to steal your traffic.

If, however, the answer is a strong ROI, then maybe paying extra for clicks isn’t going to be worth it. You might get more clicks in first position, but it will be more expensive, and every extra penny or cent you pay for that click will cut into your profitability. Your conversion rate won’t be any different in first position or third, so why pay more?

How much search volume is there?

If you are a small business in a niche industry or a local firm serving a small area, then search traffic will be limited. In this case, you need to capture all the relevant traffic you can, so bidding for the number 1 spot makes more sense. In general, the search competition isn’t going to be that high for these types of businesses, and the price you pay for the top spot will reflect that.

However, if there is a huge amount of traffic available, for terms like ‘women’s shoes’, ‘package holidays’, or ‘computer hardware’, and competition is high, then you need to consider if the extra costs required for a higher search position is going to pay off. And unless you have an unlimited budget, you need to focus on getting the most clicks for your budget, and lower click costs will mean you can get more clicks for the amount of money you have available.

How unique is your offering?

Suppose you provide a very similar product or service to the competition. In that case, searchers are more likely to click on several different ads to see who has the best deal. For example, if you are a travel agent that sells similar holiday packages to your competitors, then there is little point in paying extra for the top position if web users will open three or four tabs to compare what’s on offer from different websites.

But, if you have something different to offer, such as handmade items, ethical products, or a bespoke service, then you’ll want to be seen first to get that message across before searchers have a chance to check out other websites. You’ll need to make sure your ad copy tells searchers why your product is unique, and your landing page should focus on your USP to drive that message home.

To sum up…

Top position in the search results will usually mean more clicks but these will come at a higher cost. So, consider if you need the extra visibility, how much the additional costs will affect your return on ad spend, the amount of traffic available, and how the uniqueness of your product will affect user behaviour.

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