Search Impression Share: A Crucial Metric In PPC Campaigns

Search Impression Share: A Crucial Metric In PPC Campaigns

Sometimes, it’s better to get a bigger piece of a smaller pie.  In this blog post, we explain how to use Search Impression Share to turbocharge your PPC campaigns.

When it comes to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, everyone is looking for an edge. But in competitive markets, an “edge” often boils down to “outspend your competitors.” To paraphrase old infomercials, there has to be a better way. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to work smarter-not-harder when it comes to PPC campaigns, one of which is known as Search Impression Share.

In this blog post, we talk about this less-discussed metric, and some of the ways you can make this KPI work for you. Read on:


Read This: 5 Reasons Your Franchise Should Advertise On CTV In 2024

What Is Search Impression Share?

In a PPC campaign, advertisers bid on specific keywords that will prompt their ads to appear when a user is engaged in a search. If you do landscaping, for example, you may bid on phrases like “grass cutting services near me,” or “landscaping in Arlington, Virginia.” The next time a user searches for those terms, your ads might show up.

“Might” is the operative word there, however. Advertising space on Google results pages isn’t infinite. With multiple advertisers bidding on the same words and phrases, one search may yield your PPC ads, while a refresh may reveal ads from your competitors.

How often? That’s what Search Impression Share reveals. Represented as a percent, Impression Share shows how often a particular keyword returns with one of your ads versus someone else’s.

Why Is Impression Share Important?

Let’s start with the obvious: a higher impression share means more impressions. Though the emphasis in pay-per-click campaigns is on the clicks that will send customers further into your funnel, ads that are seen but not clicked on have value as well. You may only pay when someone clicks, but hundreds and thousands of impressions are still getting in front of your potential customers, reinforcing your brand messaging and potentially leading to more sales down the line.

Based on what we’ve been talking about, you might assume that all you have to do is find search terms where 100% of the ads returned are yours, and you’ll be golden. Of course, it’s not that simple.

Your keywords have to be good.

Let’s game this out a bit: on one end, you’ve got highly competitive keywords that everyone in your industry is bidding on, and with good reason. These are relevant keywords that indicate a high degree of intent from the user, the sort of keywords that are likely to result in a sale or subscription or whatever the conversion of choice is for your industry. On the other hand, you’ve got keywords that just don’t work: keywords that aren’t relevant enough or specific enough, but nobody is bidding on.

You could corner the market on those useless keywords, but they’re useless.

However, in-between those two extremes there is sometimes a sweet spot: less-competitive (or entirely uncompetitive) keywords that happen to be relevant and specific enough to convert well for your business. In those cases, you can scoop up a hefty share of impressions on the cheap, and reap a disproportionate number of conversions for your trouble.

Calculating Impression Share

Impression Share is fairly easy to calculate. It’s simply the number of impressions your ad received versus the number that were available given user searches for those terms.

According to Google:

“Impression share = impressions / total eligible impressions”

“Eligible impressions are estimated using many factors, including targeting settings, approval statuses, and quality. Impression share data is available for campaigns, ad groups, product groups (for Shopping campaigns), and keywords.”

What’s considered good for Impression Share varies from industry to industry, and from keyword to keyword. In some cases, an IS over 40% is considered good. In branded keywords (and yes, you may want to consider bidding on your own brand name) you should definitely be hitting a range of around 90-95%.

As a general average, 60% can be a good marker to shoot for in more-competitive areas. Bidding to get higher positioning on those kind of keywords would probably make for a bad ROI, as competitive keywords will eat up your budget.

So how do you find the “sweet spot” keywords that nab conversions while not costing your marketing budget an arm and a leg?

Improving Impression Share

The simplest way to take up more Impression Share is by spending more money. That’s ultimately counterproductive, however. The real money is in finding good, relevant keywords that nobody else is bidding on and then claiming that Impression Share for yourself on the cheap. So how do you pull that off?

  • Research: Utilize an SEO tool like Semrush to identify which keywords are low-competition and which are high-competition. You can utilize things like their “Keyword Magic” tool to work outward and find other keywords that may be less-noticed by your competitors. Additionally, tools like “” can show you related searches based off an initial input.

  • Focus on Intent: The three most common search types are Informational, Navigational, and Transactional. A Navigational search is something like searching for “Wikipedia” or “Facebook” to get to those sites. An informational search would be something like “Weather in Chicago” or “Oldest baseball player ever.” Transactional searches, however, are searches where the user is getting closer to making a purchase, like “Window cleaning services near me” or “Replacement steering wheel 2016 Honda.” The more-specific the search, the closer they are to an “add to cart.”

  • Find a NIche: Whenever possible, try to find keywords that don’t really apply to anything but your industry in general, and your specific business in particular. The more specific the niche, the less competition is possible.

  • Long-Tail Keywords: “Eye Exams” or “Pet Boarding” are vague terms that are also highly competitive. “Eye Exams in South St. Louis” or “Pet Boarding With Live Camera Feeds” are specific, high-intent, and niche. Very specific keywords and phrases are searched far less often, but when they are searched, you very well could be the only vendor in the area that fits the bill.

If you follow these strategies, you’ll be well on your way to identifying low-competition keywords that will net you a large portion of the impression share.

Final Thoughts

Keywords of the sort we’re talking about are worth their weight in gold. So if you manage to find keywords that are high-intent, high-converting but low-competition, make sure your competitors don’t find out about them.

If you’re a franchise business looking to launch PPC campaigns for your operation, Balihoo is just what you’re looking for. You can start today by contacting our team. With an exclusive focus on hyperlocal, franchise businesses, there’s a reason Balihoo is the leader in multi-location marketing.


Written by
Sean Kelly, Senior Content Writer

Sean Kelly is a Senior Content Specialist, St. Louis-based engagement expert with 20 years of experience in content writing, and 8 years in adtech.

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