Adwords First Page Bid Estimates & Average Position

Does this look familiar?

Google First Page Bid Estimate and Actual Position

Google First Page Bid Estimate and Actual Position

This inspiring sight is almost inevitable to anyone working in AdWords. Google takes care to inform you, in no uncertain terms, that your bid isn’t high enough to make the first page, and yet, when you look closer, your average position is still pretty good. Usually third or fourth. Definitely not on the second page.

Which just leaves all of us, search marketer and client alike, perplexed. What gives?

Anyone working in AdWords also figured out pretty quickly that it’s a mercurial creature, and often contradictory. Just because Google says something doesn’t necessarily mean that it means it, and the “below first page bid” situation is a prime example. In this case, a first page bid estimate does not equal the cost per click.

It seems that for iPad users when you get into your Google AdWords MCC account, the system crashes and you get booted back to your home screen. For this problem Apple comes with an easy and cheap solution:


The mercury browser has no issues logging into AdWords.

So just because Google says your bid is below the first page doesn’t mean that it actually is, and there are a few reasons why. Besides AdWords deciding to be contrary.

One, the first page bid estimate is just an estimate. That’s all. It’s an indication of how much you might have to pay to get on the first page, and not how much you actually will pay. In fact, you’ll often find that you pay less per click than your maximum CPC gives you room for. This is due to AdWord’s quality-based price system, which is a whole new beast of burden in and of itself.

Second, first page bid estimates only really work when a search query exactly matches the keywords that first page bid estimate is for. So if you’re using a broad or phrase match keyword, then forget about it; variations that trigger your exact keyword don’t make any difference in determining a first page bid estimate.

Third, Google search and the Google Search Network use different factors in determining pricing, ad position, and all that fun stuff. So that first page bid estimate you’re seeing? Only comes from Google search, not the Search Network, which is why you might be scratching your head at the huge disparity between the first page bid estimate that applies just to Google and the average CPC that applies to Google and the entire Search Network.

Finally, if you’re throwing your campaign around in more than one country, then the first page bid estimate comes from data from the country with the highest search volume for that specific keyword. Google does much better when you’re only targeting one country, so campaigns spanning multiple ones produce much less accurate first page bid estimates.

So the next time Google informs you that you’re below the first page bid in spite of all evidence on the contrary, that’s what gives.

Or AdWords just decided to be contrary.

Using Engine Ready’s Call Analytics can be an eye opening experience for all businesses. It’s primary use is to isolate where your incoming calls are coming from, which marketing source is driving the highest conversion rate, and together, help align your marketing strategy. Other secondary usages of the software can be as or even more eye-opening than its originally designed function.

As with any analytics software, it provides the data, you draw the conclusions. The main difficulty with any analytics is knowing which question to ask. 

Working with a small business owner who has Local campaigns in several cities across the United States, we wanted to ask the question: Ahould we put 800#’s on the website or Local phone numbers? – Instead of debating this question in a round-table discussion, we tested it.

Here are the results by each City (% of Total Call Volume).

Oakland #800 38%
Oakland – Local # 62%
San Francisco #800 31%
San Francisco – Local # 69%
San Jose #800 24%
San Jose – Local # 76%
Seattle #800 36%
Seattle – Local # 64%
Total Calls:


Local # 68%


Based on this test performed with Engine Ready’s Call Analytics, we have successfully concluded that it is in fact the Local# which is converting more visitors to calls; more than twice as much as a Toll-Free number!

We concluded for this particular small business owner, whose target audience is with-in a localized area, it would be an ineffective use of resources to invest in an #800.

* Every business is unique, you should test this question on your own website just to make sure. 

There are so many stratagies to test and question to ask which Call Analytics could shed light on.

With only 70 characters allowed to convey your marketing message in a PPC ad, is it effective to use that limited creative space to display your phone number? Stay tuned for more!

Adwords Certified Partner

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1 comment

  • Twin Charlotte · Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 11:49 am

    This article was very helpful! Thank you!

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