Think Twice Before Using Top of Page Bidding in AdWords

What we did

While bidding to the top of the page isn’t always the best strategy for paid search, it can be a good strategy depending on your goals, i.e. focusing on clicks or awareness, being the most competitive for certain terms, etc.

We recently had a client who was hitting the end of their busy season and we started to notice their top competitors were getting more aggressive. There were some really key terms for our client that we wanted to make sure we capturing the most search volume for as well as traffic to their website.

For those terms we changed our bidding strategy from manual CPC to the automated top of page bidding feature on AdWords.

What we saw

At first we didn’t notice any issues with this strategy, but as we were looking at our reports we noticed our CPCs were really low and volume had dropped off. After reviewing our keywords we noticed our Max CPC bids were set way below what they were previously and some were even as low as a few pennies!

And then we noticed that our impressions had decreased by about 13%, clicks by 16% and cost about 12% for all of the terms that we wanted more visibility on!

After doing some digging and reaching out to Google we learned that the automated tool actually has a bug (they are looking into it)… Once we discovered this and Google confirmed that was what was causing the issue with our performance, we went back to manual bidding and started to see our positions and impressions bounce back.


What we learned

Use the conversion optimizer instead!

We haven’t heard anything from Google confirming that the issue has been fixed for the Top of Page bidding feature but they did suggest that we use the Conversion Optimizer. Google told us this was a better strategy as it actually can adjust the bids higher than the top of page bidding strategy (interesting…).

Another team member at SEER saw a similar down turn in perform when switching from the Conversion Optimizer to Top of Page bidding. Performance bounce back when he reverted those strategies:

Have you used Top of page bidding strategy and seen similar or different results?

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