You’ve finally finished developing a great paid media campaign. Google Ads has promised you a lot and you’re ready to see the fruits of your labor. It’s gone live and you’re excited to see the numbers start rolling in.

Except they’re not. At least, not like you thought they would.

It seems like your ads are not actually getting in front of as many people as expected. And even though you did your homework and researched your targeted audience and nailed every paid media best practice, your ROI is pretty weak.

That means it’s time to take a look at your search impression share.

What Is Search Impression Share?


Google defines impression share (IS) as the “percentage of impressions that your ads receive compared to the total number of impressions that your ads could get.”

But that begs the question, what are impressions?

There are actually a ton of different types, but the general idea is that an impression is any time your ad appears on a Google page. The two key types you need to be aware of are:

  • Search impression share
  • Display impression share

The first one has a tremendous impact since it marks the impressions generated through the Search Network. By analyzing this metric, you can identify the missed opportunities within your Google Ads account.

How to Calculate Search Impressions Share

There’s a specific formula for calculating impression share:

Impression share = impressions / total eligible impressions

The total eligible impressions is determined by:

  • Keywords
  • Location targeting
  • Ad schedule
  • Quality Score

For example, if you are looking to target t-shirt keywords in Florida, your total eligible impressions won’t include people who are looking for hats in Colorado.


Unfortunately, though, there are two major ways in which you can experience a loss in impression share.

IS Loss to Rank

The percentage of times your ads could have shown up but didn’t due to a low ad ranking. According to Google, your ad ranking is determined by your bid amount and ad quality.

IS Loss to Budget

The percentage of times that your ad didn’t show because you ran out of budget. This is pretty much as simple as it sounds. Google is telling you that if you want to show up more often, you need to spend more money. There isn’t much else to it.

How to Increase Search Impression Share

Boosting your search impression share can be accomplished with a handful of well-executed strategies and best practices.

Perform Routine Keyword Audits.

The first, and probably easiest, thing to do is to examine your keywords and look for opportunities to tighten them up. Typically, having keywords that are too broad or general contributes toward losing impression share to budget.

Use keywords that possess a more strict match type and are long-tailed. This will increase the efficiency of the campaign and start generating a higher impression share.

Work on Elevating Ad Quality.

Your ad quality score has a serious influence over your impression share as well. This score is based on the keywords you choose, so, again, be picky about what you use.

You can receive a low score for a variety of reasons:

By improving the ad quality, you’ll be able to climb higher in rank, prompting Google to display your ads more frequently.

Focus on the text within your ad. Make the copy as specific and relevant as possible to your targeted keywords and audience. This can help conserve your budget too, as your max cost-per-click bid will lower while your rank improves.

Create an Ad Schedule.

You’ll always want to avoid spending your money displaying ads during low activity times.

For example, in the late hours of the night and early morning (11pm to 6am), no one’s really scrolling through Google and making queries. Research when potential customers are most active and actually searching in your reporting and schedule for those windows to maximize your impression share average.

Never just assume that the rest of the world is up at the same time as you.

Target a Narrower Location.


By adjusting your location settings to a smaller, more specific area, you’ll focus your efforts into that one location and gain more control.

Even though it’s a smaller audience receiving your ads, you’ll be able to influence the impression share within that targeted area a lot easier than across a larger spread.

Increase Your Budget.

This is a last ditch effort for when all other optimization efforts fail. If you’re losing impression share to budget, then you may simply need to increase it.

A larger daily budget makes scaling the loss a lot easier, especially if your campaign is demonstrating a profitable rate of conversion despite the loss in impression share. A bit more funding may be all that it needs to reach its full potential.

Your search impression share is a great means of understanding and assessing the strength of your paid media campaign. But it can also reveal some gaps and losses that you never would have been aware of.

Everyone wants their time to shine in Google’s high chair, but identifying losses in rank and budget can make all the difference in your success.

Take a look at your search impression share and find opportunities to optimize your campaign and bring your business to the front of the race.