A lot of the time I ask clients where do you want your ad to be positioned they almost always respond with, “We want to be number 1”.

Now I can see why they might think this, being number 1 has some pretty obvious advanteges:

  • More traffic – People will click your ad more, in fact a study by AccuraCast shows that the CTR for position 1 is over 7.11% compared to just 3.01% at position 2.
  • Brand exposure – Your ads will receive more impressions at position one than any other ad position.

So why wouldn’t you want to be positioned at number one…

Well first you need to ask yourself, do you really want the clicks?

It may seem a strange question, but do you want to receive more clicks on your ad? If you are working towards conversions or on an ROI basis being number can seriously hurt your performance. The reasons you do not want to be number 1 are:

  • It’s expensive – Between the high volume of clicks and the cost involved in being number 1 you could see a large chunk of your budget gone on just a couple of high volume search terms. There will almost certainly be better value elsewhere.
  • Is it the right traffic – Do you really want to have more people click on your ad just because you are top? Or would you rather people click on your ad having read it and decided it was better than the others on the page. Often the second option provides a much better return on investment.
  • Are they serious buyers? – If for example you are position 5 by the time a visitor has reached you they are probably very serious potential buyers, as they have taken the time to research into it enough to reach position 5. If your site is well optimised for conversions and provides relevant information based on the ad copy there is no reason you can’t still drive conversions from a lower position.

I find the decision to be positioned lower in Adwords provides better results for businesses that offer high value products or B2B services.

An example of a situation you would not want to target a lower position (through choice anyway) is when trying to sell a high volume of low value products such as “iPhone cases”

Being positioned lower in Adwords



Searches are unlikely to want to spend much time researching this product and therefore will only visit a couple of sites before making a purchasing decision.

However if you are selling a higher value product or service you are likely to receive visitors in a lower position after visiting multiple sites. An example of this could be “home swimming pools”

Where should I be positioned in Adwords 2

Whilst being in position 1 will still receive more clicks than other positions the cost benefit to your business may not be as good as being positioned in position 3 (or even lower).

What Position Should You Be?

There is no clear answer to this, I would suggest testing it by lowering your bid and monitoring how this affects the number of conversions you receive. You may well be surprised at the percentage of conversions you lose compared to the percentage of spend you save. If your business is working on a clearly defined return on investment, testing can help you achieve an optimum ad position that may surprise you.


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