Better Understand Search Impression Share on Google Ads

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Search Impression Share is a metric determined by dividing the total impressions your ad received by the total impressions your advertisement was eligible to receive [source]. If you’re curious about how often your ads populate versus competitors, search impression share is a great way to measure this.

100% is the highest search impression share you can receive. It isn’t easy to achieve this since other businesses are likely bidding on similar keywords. 

Learn how to increase search impression share and better use this metric to gauge the exposure of your Google Advertisements. 

Why I Love Search Impression Share 

When clients email me telling me their competitors constantly have PPC advertisements positioned higher, the first place I look is search impression share. I recommend adding search impression share as a column view within your ad groups and keyword sections within Google Ads (more on how to do this below). Search impression share greatly indicates how often your ads serve versus the competition. It’s also an indicator of whether there’s an opportunity for more exposure and conversions.

  • A strong indicator of the overall competition within your industry. 
  • Allows you to see whether your advertisements receive more or less exposure than competitors. 
  • It helps you determine whether you must increase bids and budgets.
  • It is a good indicator of the overall competition of keywords and products you’re bidding on

Adding Search Impression Share As Column View

For Standard PPC Advertisements

  • Go to “Search Keywords” at either the campaign or ad group level
  • Click on “Columns” and “Modify Columns.”
  • Select “Competitive Metrics” and then select “Search impression share.”

For Google Shopping Advertisements

  • Go to “Products”
  • Select “Columns” and “Modify Columns”
  • Select “Competitive Metrics”
  • Select “Search Abs. Top Is”

You will notice within competitive metrics, there is search top impression share, search absolute top impression share, search lost impression share and other options. Later in this blog, I will explain what each of these means so you can determine what you’d like to have in your column view. First, let me provide examples of search impression share for our clients and in-house brands so you can better understand how to analyze this metric.

Examples Of Search Impression Share


DermWarehouse is our in-house eCommerce brand. You can learn more about how we grew this brand from 0 customers to over 300,000. The ad group below is for a branded campaign, meaning we’re bidding on our branded keyword “DermWarehouse.” We have a search impression share of 88.55%, which is very high. This means for every 100 impressions, DermWarehouse received 88 impressions. Why did we not get a 100% search impression share? Most likely, there were days when we ran out of budget, or competitors were bidding on our brand name.

For branded campaigns, you should have a high search impression share as there aren’t as many people bidding on your branded keywords. The cost per click for branded is inexpensive.  Most clients we work with desire to appear first when someone is searching for their brand versus risking a competitor appearing ahead of them.

Related Blog: Should you bid on branded keywords?

Google Search (Non-Branded) 

  • We’re one of the few skincare sites to sell Biocorneum, hence the reason for a high search impression share 
  • “Biocorneum scar treatment” has a search impression share of 71%, well below the branded example of 88%
  • It’s not uncommon for a non-branded search to see search impression share well below 50%, especially as there’s more competition

Google Shopping Campaign

Search impression share is available for both Google Ads and Google Shopping. Since Google Shopping is not driven based on keyword bidding, search impression share is available at the product level. Search impression is very important for Google Shopping to determine your exposure for each product you’re selling via Google Merchant Center.

In the DermWarehouse Catch-All Google Shopping campaign, we have a search impression share of 17.65%. What’s the reason for a low search impression share? There’s a lot of competition in the skincare space, meaning many competitors are bidding on the same products. While Biocorneum didn’t have a lot of competition, brands like SkinMedica are ultra-competitive. 

Analyzing The Data At The Product Level For Shopping 

  • Within the Product Group and underneath “All Products,” there is a WooCommerce ID for each individual product. 
  • The WooCommerce ID starting with 249 (Dermalogica Active Moist) has a 69.35% search impression share and an 8.71 ROAS (return on ad spend)
  • The data tells me that we’re frequently populating ahead of competitors for this product and converting well.
  • There is an opportunity to increase the bid further to gain market share.
  • For WooCommerce ID starting with 137, we have a search impression share of 37% and a ROAS of 2.16%. Since the ROAS is not good, I would not increase the bid to gain more exposure for this product.

Different Types of Search Impression Share 

  • Search top impression share (IS) is the impressions you’ve received in the top location.
    • If you’re curious how often your advertisement populates in the top overall spot, this is a good metric to track. 
  • Search Lost IS (rank): The percentage of time your ads weren’t shown on the Search Network due to poor Ad Rank in the auction.
    • If your keywords aren’t aligning with your ad copy or you have a poor landing page experience, leading to a low click-through rate and quality score, this could mean you are losing impression share due to poor performance. 
  • Click Share 
    • “Click share” is the clicks you’ve received on the Search Network divided by the estimated maximum number of clicks you could have received.
      • This provides a good visualization of how many clicks you could have received with an increased budget. 

Learn more about all the different types of impression share from Google

How To Improve Search Impression Share 

Numerous ways exist to improve the search impression share within your paid advertising campaigns on Google. 

  • Budget 
    • Increasing the budget is the easiest way to increase search impression share. If you run out of budget each day, your search impression share will drop. Simply increase your budget if the return on investment justifies it. 
  • Improve Advertisements 
    • If your advertisements are weak, your quality score is going to drop. Quality Score is Google’s rating of the quality and relevance of your keywords and PPC ads. It is used to determine your cost per click (CPC) and multiplied by your maximum bid to determine your ad rank in the ad auction process.
    • Ensure your advertisements, keywords, and landing pages are strong to improve your quality score.
  • Improve Keywords 
    • Analyze your keywords to ensure they also have a strong quality score. Low-performing keywords can be draining your campaign. 
    • There should be a strong correlation between your ad copy, keywords, and landing page experience.
  • Improve Landing Page Experience
    • Your landing page experience is also considered when evaluating your quality score. Send people to a strong landing page that aligns with the ad copy and keywords you’re bidding on. 

Contact our paid advertising experts to help improve your Google Ads campaigns

Closing Summary  

  • Search Impression Share is a fantastic indicator of overall exposure on your Google Ads.
  • It’s easy to add search impression share as a column view. 
  • Search Impression Share is available at the keyword level on standard PPC campaigns and the product level on Google Shopping. 
  • There are numerous types of search impression share, all of which provide the advertiser with different data points. 
  • Search impression share will allow you to make key adjustments, like increasing or decreasing bids and budgets. 

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