Recovering from low impression share in AdWords

In our first look at impression share we spotted some low-performing keywords that accounted for 11% of a client’s ad spend. This is what we saw when we reviewed their campaign stats. In this second part, let’s look at how we responded and brought their campaign back from that stumble.

wasted spend results showing on Google Adwords

Find your impression share gaps

To see how this wasted money is affecting your impression share, change your filter to filter for keywords with a conversion rate of > 2%. This will allow you to see which keywords are producing your best results.

Then, click Columns and Modify columns and add “Search Impr. share”, “Search Exact match IS” and “Search Lost IS” to your report:

Viewing impression share using Google Adwords modify columns

Doing so will  update your list to look like this:

impression share results on Google Adwords

Here, it’s quickly apparent how this client’s wasted spend was diverting budget from their effective keywords. Look at the “Conv. rate” and “Search Impr. Share” columns in the chart.

For example, 8.3% of the traffic on one of these keywords converts, but it’s getting just 33% of the possible impressions.

With 100% impression share, that keyword could be producing 3x the conversions!

So, why is its impression share so low?

Ad Rank

The last column on the right (Search Lost IS – rank) tells what portion of the time you’ve lost the chance for your ad to show up due to low ad rank. For this client, you can see that they were losing over 50% of the available impressions for this keyword. Remember, ad rank is tied to how much you bid, relative to your ad quality and your competitors.

In other words, their bids were simply too low!

Since this keyword was one of their top performers — once people actually saw the ad — that posed a problem. They were spending a lot of money on keywords that didn’t convert well and they weren’t setting their bid high enough for their best keywords to be seen.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

In cases like this, simply bidding more is an obvious, easy fix.

Just remember, increasing bids here will also up your cost-per-click (CPC). That will raise your cost-per-conversion and cost-per-sale.

Now, clearly, great keywords like this can handle a higher CPC, but don’t raise bids on a keyword that is hardly profitable with your present CPC.

By the way, if your top keywords are hardly profitable…impression share probably isn’t the biggest problem in your paid search account.

Budget Limitations

Fixing impression share lost to ad rank is fairly straightforward, but figuring out how bidding on the wrong keywords results in impression share that is lost to budget takes a little more sleuthing.

Search Lost IS (budget) can’t be seen in your Keywords report, so you’ll need to run a Campaigns report to find it. Take note of which campaigns contain your highest performing keywords, then pick the appropriate campaigns from your Campaigns tab.

Once you’re there, add the Search Lost IS (budget) column. Doing this lets you see the percentage of available impressions this particular campaign loses because of budget limitations.

Remember that client with the keyword that a 33% impression share and an 8.3% conversion rate?

Well, when we did this analysis, we discovered that this keyword belonged to a campaign that was losing 77% of available impression share to budget constraints.

When you see a keyword only gets 33% of its possible impressions in a campaign that only gets 23% impression share due to budget limitations, it is likely that the reason behind the keyword’s poor impression share is budget problems.

So, this keyword that only gets 1/3rd of its possible impressions because of budget limitations…and just 5 of this client’s worst keywords were eating up 11% of their budget.

Do you smell an opportunity? I certainly do.

Making Things Better

When you have keywords that perform this well, you want them to have at least 90% impression share. To get it, though, you may have to cut some budget from your lower-performing keywords.

But really, shouldn’t you do everything you can to give your high performing keywords the best shot possible?

Now, saying that redirecting budget from budget sucking keywords into your top-performing, but impression-limited keywords will help your business is one thing, but what actually happens when you get your top keywords the impressions they deserve?

Well, the results are magical.

Here’s what happened to that client we’ve been talking about when we shifted their budget from their worst keywords to their best keywords:

Search lost is vs conversions on SpyFu

Literally the next day, the client’s best ads were being displayed two times as often. Their sales doubled within the month.

But the best part here is that their account started to perform so well they even ended up reducing their AdWords budget—all we had to do was maximize impression share on their best keywords.

Make the Most of Your Impression Share

Impression share is a simple metric, but it is an easy way to get more out of your paid search account.

Remember, if you’re wasting money on keywords with low conversion rates, you’re missing out on possible clicks for the keywords that really benefit your company.

But, if you can use that budget to drive more impressions for your high-converting keywords, you can dramatically improve the performance of your paid search campaigns.

You’ve heard my two cents, now it’s your turn.

What do you think of impression share? Is it something you use regularly? Got anything you would add to this article?

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This guest post comes from the SpyFu community. Jacob is passionate entrepreneur on a mission to help businesses achieve online marketing success. As the Founder & CEO of Disruptive Advertising, Jacob has created an award-winning, world-class organization that has helped hundreds of businesses grow using pay-per-click advertising and conversion rate optimization.

  • Nigel Stafford

    Great tips – Cheers guys

    • AgentSidra

      Thanks, Nigel. We appreciate the team from Disruptive Advertising being willing to write up their story for us.