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How are AdWords ads ranked?

We've outlined how ad ranking works for both the search and content network below.


Ad rank for the search network

Keyword-targeted ads are ranked on search result pages based on their maximum cost-per-click (CPC) and the keyword's Quality Score on (For the top positions above Google search results, we use the maximum CPC.)

Ad Rank = CPC X Quality Score*

*Note: The Quality Score used to determine your ad's rank is slightly different from the keyword Quality Score used to determine your ad's minimum CPC bid requirement. Your keyword's overall Quality Score considers the keyword's clickthrough rate (CTR) and the relevance of the keyword, your ad's text, and landing page. The Quality Score used for ad ranking considers your keyword's CTR, ad text relevance, and your keyword's relevance in relation to a user's search query.

Having relevant keywords and ad text, a strong CTR on Google, and a high CPC will result in a higher position for your ad. Because this ranking system rewards well-targeted, relevant ads, you can't be locked out of the top position as you would be in a ranking system based solely on price.



Ad rank for the content network

For a keyword-targeted ad's position on a content page, our system considers three things:

  • The ad group's content bid or, if content bids aren't enabled, its maximum CPC.
  • The ad's past performance on this and similar sites.
  • The relevance of the ad's landing page.

For a ad's position on a content page, our system considers only the ad group's maximum cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM).

Improving your ranking

  • Optimization Tips Page: Visit our Optimization Tips page to learn more about account optimization, including how to maximize performance for your keyword-targeted ad and improve your ad's position without having to raise your maximum CPC.
  • Traffic Estimator: Use our Traffic Estimator to see how changing your maximum CPC can affect the ad position of your keywords on the search network.
  • Content Bids: Use content bids to better control your ads' position on the content network.

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