Digital marketing is everywhere, from ads on the search results page to banners on many of the apps you use. Consumers are often saturated with ads and pay hardly any regard to most of them. This is where search ads come in. These ad types allow marketers to reach an audience who is actively searching for a specific product or service and target them throughout their purchase journey.

You recognized the usefulness of search and set up ad campaigns. Google provides a robust number of metrics and data that can quickly become overwhelming. If you think that there must be more important metrics than others, you are absolutely right. The metrics you should pay close attention to will depend on your marketing objectives, whether it is driving traffic to your website, creating awareness, or generating leads. The weight given to each will also align with these objectives. We will cover paid search account-level metrics, stay tuned for part two on site-level metrics.

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Which metrics should you pay attention to and why?


Before a click or a conversion, your ad needs to be served in response to a search query that triggered a keyword. An impression occurs every time your ad is served. If the volume is low and there is leftover ad budget, it could be cause for concern. You would need to make sure the bid per keyword is not too low or it might not show on the first page. Additionally, check that your keywords have enough volume per month, or they won’t be eligible to show. Impressions are especially important to awareness-based campaigns as you want to reach as many relevant users as possible.


This metric measures how many times an ad is clicked and helps determine if your ads are attention-grabbing. If you are running campaigns to increasing traffic to your site, clicks will tell you how much traffic can be attributed to Google Search campaigns.

Click-Through Rate

Click-Through Rate (CTR) is the percentage of times an ad is clicked in relation to how often it is served. It is calculated by dividing clicks by total impressions. Average CTR can vary widely by industry. Although keep in mind that if CTR is very low or suddenly dropped, it could indicate a deeper problem, such as the ads being served to the incorrect audience, decreasing relevancy. A possible culprit is having keywords that are too broad. A low CTR will decrease the ad quality in Google, which can cause your ads to serve less frequently and increase costs.

It is also important to note any seasonality present in your industry or external factors that might be impacting demand.

Search Impression Share

As the name implies, Search IS is the percentage of instances your ads show divided by the times your ads were eligible to show. A small impression share can be caused by a low budget limiting how many times your ads can serve or can be due to a high number of competitors. To find how you compare to your competitors, go to Auction insights under Keywords (can be viewed at account to ad group level). If you find that your competitors’ ads are showing more frequently than yours, this could be an indication to increase your keyword bids.

Search Top Impression Rate

The search top impression rate “Impr. (Top) %” metric tells you the percentage of times your ad served above the organic search results on the search results page. This impression rate helps gauge your ads’ visibility. Most users don’t go beyond the first search result page or scroll all the way down for that matter. Google is good at finding relevant results for users’ queries, therefore ideally digital marketers want their ads to be showing above organic results. The lower the ad placement the lower the expected CTR.

Search Lost Impression Share (Budget)

Search Loss IS (budget displays the percentage of time your ad didn’t show above the organic results due to a low budget. Keywords can become more expensive over time and the market more competitive, regularly monitor this metric to ensure your ads are showing in an optimal position.

Click Share

Click share is an interesting one. It is the percentage of clicks the campaign has received compared to the number of possible clicks available. Maybe less useful than others as it has many other factors that can change the percentage, however, watching how Top IS / Absolute Top IS can affect click share can give insight into your typical users’ willingness to scroll beyond the top position to click.

Quality Score

Quality score is measured at the keyword level on a scale of 1 through 10, it compares your ad’s quality versus your competitors. Some of the factors that are taken into consideration include ad relevance and expected CTR.

This isn't a metric you can really graph over time, so advertisers need to take “snapshots” occasionally and compare it to current quality scores. Pull a keyword level report and include Quality Score, Quality Score (hist.), Landing Page Experience, Ad Relevance, and Expected CTR. Review keywords quality scores and identify ad groups that could benefit the most from updates either in the ad copy or the landing pages.

Digital advertising is a powerful tool that can help advance your business objectives. Therefore, knowing what metrics to keep an eye on and monitoring them habitually is necessary for optimization and overall campaign success.

About The Author

Valery recently earned a Master’s degree in Marketing with a focus on digital marketing and marketing analytics from the University of Houston. She found her aptitude for digital marketing while participating in the Google Nonprofit Marketing Immersion (formerly Online Marketing Challenge). She enjoys trying out different cafés, watching international films, and biking when she is not at work.

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