Here at JumpFly, there’s a feature in Google AdWords that we use on a very limited basis, but can come in handy, and that’s Position Preferencing. Google AdWords Position Preferencing is a feature that allows you to pick your favored position (like #1) or range of positions (like 2 to 4).Google AdWords Position Preference

It’s powerful and handy for those who know which position brings them the most ROI or for branding purposes. But beware of the Position Preference trap: if you don’t bid high enough for the positions you want, your ad will just not show. That’s right, instead of showing in the positions you want, you don’t show at all. And this is a trap that advertisers can easily fall into.

When you select position preferencing, you need to set your bids high, maybe even triple what you would normally pay, just to make sure you end of showing like you should. (Unless of course you really don’t want your ad to show unless it’s in the position or positions you specify.) You also need to keep in mind that Google AdWords takes position preferencing as a suggestion. I have one client who prefers to be in positions 2 to 4, and if the max bid is too high, she regularly shows up in position 1, until we reduce her bid enough to get her in that range. The problem occurs when one of her competitors makes a bid change, which throws the position preferencing range out of whack, which means she either ends up in first again, or not at all, until we tweak the bid enough.

A couple of tips if you decide that Position Preferencing is right in your Google AdWords Campaign:

  1. Broad is better: you’re better off selecting a wider range of positions than a narrow range. Positions 3 to 8 are likely better than 2 to 4. You’ll get more impressions, and you’ll have a better chance of showing.
  2. Your best bet is to leave the bottom end open, like 3 to 10+ and increasing your max bid to the most you’re willing to spend. Most likely you’ll show in position 4, but won’t lose out on any impressions that might occur at a lower position.
  3. Only do position preferencing on a select number of keywords. You can do it on every one of your keywords, but the management and monitoring can become a nightmare. You’re much better off doing it on only those super-competitive keywords where you know what the ROI is for certain positions.
  4. Use patience. Position Preferencing can take a few days to “gather performance data and calibrate its targeting.” You could potentially start showing in your range right away, or it can take awhile, so give it some time. And every time you make a change it could potentially take a few days to recalibrate so keep that in mind if you start playing with the positions.

Google AdWords Position Preferencing can be helpful, if you use it carefully and sparingly. One more thing to keep in mind is that if you are targeting position number 1, be prepared for an exponentially higher cost-per-click (CPC) than in lower positions (this is for those of you who have never tried for position 1 before), be prepared to start a bidding war if it’s an extremely competitive term and you’re “dislodging” someone who historically has been in number 1, and be prepared to evaluate whether the money spent on position 1 turns into more business, or just more spend. Number 1 in position doesn’t necessarily mean number 1 in sales (View my previous article about PPC Advertising and Ego-Bidding).

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