What is the best position for your keyword?

I can’t tell you how many people think that the top #1 position is the best performing keyword position. True, the top #1 position often does provide the most amount of traffic, however the resulting ROI from that traffic might not be exactly what they had hoped.

PPC AdvertisingThere is no doubt that keywords work better in different positions. Fortunately, Google Analytics provides a great report that can shed light on several performance factors that you can use to evaluate your keywords best positioning. This report is called the “Keyword Position” report and it is located in your Google Analytics account under: Traffic Sources/Adwords/Keyword Positions.

The Keyword Position report differs greatly from the data in your AdWords account. While the AdWords interface will show you the average position of a keyword and its conversion cost and rate; the Keyword Position report through Google Analytics will show you visits, pages per visit, average time on site, bounce rate, conversion rates, and the per visit value for each position. If you have an Ecommerce website and took the time to implement the Ecommerce feature correctly, then you will also be able to see revenue, transactions, average value, and Ecommerce conversion rate.

Positions are broken down into two areas, just like they appear on a Google SERP. You have the top and the side, and this layout is visually displayed to the right of the keyword list. The top can have up to 4 positions labeled Top 1 through Top 4. The side is labeled Side 1, Side 2, etc. This numerical representation displayed in Google Analytics is different than the value shown in the AdWords interface. If Google displayed 4 ads in the top position, then Side 1 would be considered position 5 in the AdWords interface.

By selecting a keyword, you will see the performance of that keyword in the various available positions. For example, I might notice that my keyword “green widget” supplied 240 visits in Top position #2, however provided 253 visits in Side position #2. Most likely the CPC required for this keyword to be in Side Position #2 will be less than that of Top position #2, and therefore the keyword in this scenario could potentially generate more traffic from a lower position with a lower CPC.

Of course, visits alone aren’t everything, and you might wish to see which position generates the best Conversion Rate. Simply select “Goal Conversion Rate” from the Position Breakdown menu and the keywords conversion rate will appear next to each position. For example, you might find that Top Position #2 actually had a higher conversion rate than Side position #2, so therefore maybe the extra CPC required to maintain that position would be worthwhile to your ROI. If you had Ecommerce tracking enabled, you could actually look up the revenue generated by the keyword in each position.

At first I was surprised to see that the top 3 or 4 positions do not necessarily generate the most amount of traffic, often the positions starting in the upper right side can generate more visits than positions 2 through 4 at the top. You might very well be surprised to see how your keywords perform in their different positions.

Now, what is “Best” for your keywords positions will vary greatly based on your individual business model and your PPC management strategy. The good news is that the Google Analytics Keyword Position Report provides a great deal of information that you can use to help fine tune your bidding and optimize your ROI.