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Everything You Need To Know About Google Ads Search Impression Share

Working out if your Google Search Ads are successful can be a challenge, and there are many different metrics and statistics for you to look at to do so. One of these is search impression share, but what is it? What does it mean? What does it tell you about the success of your ads compared to other metrics, like conversion rate?

What is search impression share in Google ads?

Impression share (IS) is the percentage of impressions your ads receive from the maximum number of impressions they could receive overall. This includes all of the auctions they are entered into and don’t win as well as those they do. Search impression share is directly related to ads on the search network, rather than the display network or video ads on YouTube. In the example below, the ad is receiving 1,000 impressions out of a potential 5,000. This means its impressions share is 20%.

Impression Share example Google Ads
Example of impression share

How do I find impression share on Google ads?

In your Google Ads account, click on ‘Campaigns’, ‘Ad Groups’, or ‘Keywords’. You then need to click the columns icon and select ‘Modify columns’. Choose ‘Competitive metrics’ and check the box for impression share columns to add them. This will make the data appear in the statistics table. Why is impression share important?

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Impression share metrics let you understand what keywords, ads or campaigns aren’t performing well, and helps you identify the problems that would let you fix them. However, impression share isn’t just for identifying problems – new campaigns will have a lower impression share while the machine learning algorithm gathers data and adjusts accordingly. It’s also important to remember that while in an ideal world, your ads’ impression share would be 100%, you can always look at your impression share and other metrics to find opportunities to improve their performance.

Example of how to modify columns to show Impression Share in Google Ads Dashboard
How to add impression share to Google Ads dashboard

Are there any other important metrics to look at?

While the overall search impression share metric can help you identify where you’re having problems, there are a few other metrics that help you identify what the problem is and, therefore, how you can fix them. For search ads, these are:

  • Search lost impression share (budget): This is the estimate of percentage impressions that were lost because your ads were not displayed due to issues with your budget. This is only visible on a campaign level.
  • Search lost impression share (rank): This is the estimate of percentage impressions that were lost because your ads were not shown because of poor Ad rank in the auction. This is visible on both a campaign and ad group level.
  • Search top impression share: The percentage of your ad impressions that are from ads being shown above the organic results on the page
  • Search absolute top impression share: The percentage of your ad impressions that come from your ad being in position one on the first page.
Google Ads dashboard showing search impression share and IS lost to rank and budget
Google Ads dashboard showing search impression share and IS lost to rank and budget

How do I increase my search impression share?

Increasing your Search ads’ impression share can be achieved through a few methods. You should, however, check to see what the issue holding back your ads might be so you can apply the right solution.

You should ensure that you have no bidding and/or budget issues. This means making sure your bids are high enough to show up in a competitive position but also ensuring that your daily budget isn’t being used up too quickly. This might mean you need to increase your bids and/or daily budget.

Popular Google Ads Videos

If your bids aren’t high enough, your ads won’t appear in competitive positions, which means you will get fewer impressions, clicks and visitors to your site. Google will also stop displaying your ads if your daily budget has been used up. This means that you will lose out on impressions and clicks if your budget gets used too quickly, resulting in a lower impression share.

Another thing you can do to increase your impression share is to improve your ad quality. This can mean improving your ad copy to make it more relevant to the keywords you’re targeting, making it more compelling so that users are more likely to click on it. You can also edit your landing page to ensure that it is relevant to the ads, with consistent messaging, keywords and providing users with the information they’re searching for.

Another way you can improve your impression share is by adjusting your search ads’ geo-targeting. Restricting the locations you’re showing your ads to can lead to a spike in impression share because you can ensure your ads are being shown to as many users in that area as possible. This is because there are fewer searches so you can use your budget much more effectively, thereby maximising impression share.

A different bidding strategy that can increase your impression share is more rarely used. This bidding strategy is called ‘Target Impression Share’ and to will set a target for how much of the impression share you want, whether that’s 60%, 80% or more. This tends to be used for increasing brand awareness, as the cost per click can be very expensive, and so can cause issues for campaign profitability.

Is conversion rate or impression share more important?

The conversion rate tells you the percentage of conversions you’re getting from your ads, while impression share tells you how many impressions you’re receiving. The thing to consider with conversion rates is where users are in the journey to conversion – they might click on your ads multiple times before converting as they do more research into the topic, or they might convert on their first visit because they know exactly what they want and where to get it.

However, it’s important to remember that neither one is more important than the other. In fact, they work together to achieve your goal. Your impression share is more directly related to your Google Ads campaign, while your conversion rate is more directly related to your landing page. This also depends on the goals you’ve set – if you’re focused on improving brand awareness, you may not care about conversions as much as if you want to generate sales or leads.

Recent Google Ads Blog Posts


Search impression share is a metric used to tell you what percentage of the impressions your ad was eligible for you actually received. This can be used to determine how to improve low-performing ads and keywords, from other metrics such as search lost impression share for budget and rank, letting you work out whether the budget needs adjusting or if your ad quality needs to be the focus for improvement.

You can also compare the search impression share to other data, like conversion rates, and use those to determine where in the journey to conversion your users usually are. This will then help you to make your ads and landing pages more relevant to your users as you seek to give them the information they need.

Remember, we’re experts in Google Ads and Conversion Rate Optimisation, so if you need help, contact us today.

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