Understanding Search Impression Share to Maximize Your Campaign

July 28 / Clare J. / filed under Pay-Per-Click

There are many metrics we can use to measure the success of our online digital marketing campaigns. Some are more simple, like clicks or cost per conversion. Others are a bit less straightforward. Search impression share is a useful metric for determining whether you could improve the reach of your ad campaigns, but it can be hard to know exactly what it is and what it means. Here’s our breakdown of search impression share:

Overhead view of a desk with laptop.

What is an Impression?

First, let’s define impressions. An impression is when a link to your site appears in the Google search results. Impressions weren’t necessarily clicked on, they simply indicate that your ad appeared when a relevant keyword was searched.

What is Search Impression Share?

Search impression share (SIS) is the number of times your ad appears in Google search results, divided by the number of times your ad could have appeared. For example, if your ad appeared in 50 search results pages, but there were 100 relevant searches that your ad was eligible to appear in, your search impression share is 50%. 

Google pay-per-click advertising is essentially a lightning-fast auction every time a keyword is searched. Various factors and settings help determine if your ad is shown for a given search. But, the bottom line is: your ad won’t appear for every search. Search impression share helps you understand how many relevant searches you’re missing out on, and for what reason. 

Lost Search Impression Share

When your ad doesn’t appear in an eligible search for relevant keywords, it typically falls into one of the following categories: SIS lost to budget or SIS lost to rank. 

Losing search impression share to budget typically means that your campaign has run out of daily budget before the end of the day, so your ad did not appear once the budget was exhausted. 

Search impression share lost to rank means your ad didn’t appear because another ad “ranked” higher in Google’s algorithm. Losing search impression share to rank doesn’t mean your ads are low-quality, but it indicates that someone else might be bidding higher than you, may have a superior landing page,  or their ads contained ad copy more relevant to the searched keyword. Google ad rank is a nuanced and dynamic value that changes frequently and considers many factors. 

Addressing Lost Search Impression Share

It’s expected to lose some of your search impression share to budget or rank – showing up for every possible search isn’t the best way to drive high-quality, relevant leads. However, if your search impression share is low and your business has the capacity to grow, there are a few ways to increase your search impression share:

  • Increasing your budget allows you to bid more aggressively and can extend the life of your daily budget throughout the day. 
  • Bidding more aggressively can put your ads ahead of the pack. Make sure to increase your bids within reason – you want to balance your keyword bids with your potential revenue from a lead. 
  • Ensure your ads and landing page contain the most relevant and commonly searched keywords. 

Search impression share is less of an indicator of your campaigns current success, and more of an indicator of its capacity to grow. According to Google, small variation in search impression share over time is not necessarily cause for action, as changes in keywords, bids, and Google auction algorithms can change the estimate of competitive auctions your ads could have bid in. Have questions about search impression share, or looking to expand the reach of your campaign? Contact our experts at Chair 10 Marketing to begin working on your custom digital marketing strategy!