Once you bid on a keyword, your ad will automatically be shown every time somebody makes a related search, right? And while it may sometimes be in a low position on the page, it’ll always be there somewhere, right?
Google almost never shows any advertiser’s ads 100 percent of the time for a given keyword. There are several reasons for this, the most important being that Google wants to test other advertisers’ ads to see how they perform. Plus, Google makes more money showing 20 ads 50 percent of the time than showing seven ads 100 percent of the time.
Google gets to control whose ads they show and how often. The percentage of the time they choose to show your ads for any given keyword is called impression share (IS), also known as coverage.
Fortunately, you can increase your impression share and ensure that more people see your ads more often. Google provides reporting data that shows your precise impression share and even provides hints at what you may need to do to improve it.
With a few key fixes, your ads could be seen three to five times as often as they are, and your profits would multiply by a similar factor. There’s a huge opportunity to increase your bottom line, simply by improving this number.
How to find your impression share numbers
To turn on this particular metric inside your AdWords account, be sure you’re in “Campaigns.” On the far right underneath the graph is an icon with three vertical bars called “Columns.” Click it and select “Competitive Metrics” and add the following three columns to your stats: “Search Impression Share,” “Search lost IS (budget),” and “Search lost IS (rank).”
You can view this data at the campaign, ad group and keyword level. However, “Impression Share lost due to budget” only shows at the campaign level, so we suggest starting there.
Your impression share number will be a percentage that indicates how close you are to being seen 100 percent of the time. So if your impression share is 50 percent, this means you’re only being seen half the time you could be. In this case, if you’re receiving 1,000 impressions a day on a particular keyword, a 50 percent score means there are up to 1,000 additional impressions available to you on any given day — provided you can make the right improvements to your campaign.
“Impression Share lost due to budget” is simple to understand and fix. Let’s say your daily budget is $10 but there are actually $100 worth of clicks available out there every day. Your impression share in this case will never exceed 10 percent, and the reports will probably tell you that your impression share lost due to budget is 90 percent.
“Impression share lost due to rank” is a bit more complex and involves a number of elements. Impression share is a fantastically simple way of seeing how often your ads are showing, but it’s also a quick measure of how Google perceives the quality of your campaign and the potential that exists to increase your profits.
There are two reasons why Google might limit your impressions (apart from the need to test the inventory of other advertisers):
1. Your daily budget is too low. This is simple to diagnose and fix. It’s possible to double or even triple the impressions on a profitable account simply by increasing your daily budget, even raising it significantly above your current spend. With this, you need to exercise some caution. How profitable are your campaigns? What can your marketing budget sustain? Answer those questions, and you can raise your budget and impression share accordingly.
2. Your Ad Rank is too low. You can improve this by giving attention to three things:
- Ad extensions. If you’re not using them, then try some site links, callout extensions and call extensions.
- Quality score. Google looks first at whatever campaign is running the highest volume. If the quality of the ads and keywords there is poor, your impression share will suffer. If you’re showing a Quality Score of five or below, work on improving it.
- Maximum bid. If you need to bump this up to improve your Ad Rank, do so incrementally. Review your max bid every day, and don’t raise it more than you can afford or sustain. It’s better to have a low impression share in a profitable campaign than to have a high impression share and be losing money!