Why Impressions Matter (Even When Clicks and Search Demand Drop)
Don't write off the importance of impressions.
Are you experiencing fluctuations in search traffic? Or, maybe you’ve begun to see a decline in brand search demand — and, in turn, branded clicks. Yikes. Seeing performance decreases can put any marketer in survival mode, but the situation may not be as dire as one might think.
It’s important to keep a level head: every great brand experiences fluctuations from time to time. When demand drops and clicks are in short supply, look to your site’s impressions for a more comprehensive outlook.
Here’s how impressions support organic presence at times of low demand.
Impressions: What They Are, Why They Matter
So, what are impressions in terms of search engine results pages (SERPs)? Impressions measure a brand’s visibility and how often links to its pages (i.e., WWW pages, location pages, etc.) are displayed (and potentially) seen by potential consumers.
SERP impressions can be a tricky metric — and whether or not you snag an impression depends upon how your brand’s link is being displayed to searchers on-page.
- Paginated Results: An impression is generally counted when your content is served on the SERP, even when a user doesn’t scroll to a point where it is within view.
- Widgets: In independent widgets (like the FAQ or People Also Ask section), your searcher has to take an action, such as clicking “see more”, for an impression to be counted.
- Unpaginated Results: Your brand’s result must scroll into view for an impression to be counted in an unpaginated display (such as infinite scrolling).
Impressions on a website do not measure clicks or conversions directly, but they are often used to monitor domain authority and maintain SERP placement. Solid impressions performance can help you rank against competitors while encouraging brand awareness and influence by placing your content in front of potential customers.
However, because the ROI for impressions in marketing is difficult to measure, many brands tend to place more significance on clicks. But in the battle of impressions vs. clicks, it’s important to remember that impressions significantly impact your site and brand health, too.
1. Impressions Help Build and Maintain Brand Authority
Impressions can be a strong indicator of domain authority.
Domain authority estimates how likely a website is to rank in SERPs. A high domain authority implies that search engines trust a website, regard the content as high quality, and are willing to display it in SERPs. The opposite is true for low domain authority.
Evaluate the trends in your industry. Does your brand boast a higher domain authority than many of its competitors? If so, you’re in good standing. And you may want to think twice before removing content that supports impressions. Doing so could lead to reduced domain authority.
2. Impressions May Help Beat Out the Competition
With a strong presence, you can avoid being replaced by competitors in SERPs.
So, your brand has good domain authority and is doing well in SERPs. Maybe you even dominate the top of the SERP with relevant keyphrases… but you aren’t receiving clicks. Before taking drastic measures to gain higher clicks, consider how well your brand’s pages push down key competitors in SERPs.
If you’re considering removing or making significant changes to content that’s driving impressions but not as many clicks, ask yourself:
- “Am I willing to risk other competitors taking my position in search?”
- “Are the short-term effects of low brand search demand enough to risk long-term impressions, clicks, and potential conversions?”
3. Impressions Support Reach and Brand Awareness
“Digital interaction influences 70% of purchases.” — Forbes
Consumers need to know your brand exists to make a purchase or visit one of your locations — and studies show that consumers are more likely to consider making purchases from brands they recognize. In SERPs, top-of-mind brands are those with the most visibility and reach — which first necessitates an impression.
When searchers input non-branded queries relevant to your site, a conversion is more likely down the road. Once reach is achieved, your searcher now associates your brand with their intent, even if they don’t click in the moment.
4. Impressions May Mean You May Have Already Provided a Helpful Answer
Fewer clicks doesn’t mean customers are not converting.
More than half of Google searches never click out of Google. This often means that users are instead getting the information they need as soon as they input a search query. Google presents this information intentionally to provide searchers with a quick, seamless on-page experience.
“As many as 57% of users on mobile and 53% on desktop don’t click an organic or paid result…” — Semrush
Fewer clicks do not mean fewer conversions or less engagement. It means that you may have already answered the searcher’s query directly in the SERP — whether that’s by providing the address in a map listing or answering the user’s question in a featured snippet.
How to Maintain Visibility in Times of Low Demand
Impressions are an often overlooked metric, but their value is undeniable. To maintain visibility and stay in potential consumers’ line of sight, it is essential to consider optimizations and take a long-view approach.
If your site’s viewed impressions fall behind, you may want to take a step back and evaluate the cause. Are you providing helpful content to your target audience? How are your core web vitals? Is there more you could be doing?
Here are some steps you can take to bolster visibility if your impressions, reach, and clicks are falling by the wayside.
1. Focus on relevant, non-branded keyphrases.
Turn your focus towards non-branded keyphrases when brand search demand and clicks are low. Ranking for non-branded keywords can increase the likelihood of acquiring new traffic for your business.
For example, let’s say you’re a company that sells workout equipment. Instead of targeting brand name keyphrases, consider producing quality content that includes non-branded keyphrases while speaking to your consumer’s daily needs, characteristics, and interests. In this case, you may opt to create keyphrase-optimized articles covering post-workout recovery tips or blogs featuring healthy recipes.
You can bolster organic performance — especially in times of low brand demand — by optimizing your site for non-branded keywords that meet search intent (and your audience’s needs).
2. Produce quality content relevant to your brand.
We can’t say it enough: quality content is imperative for any brand — and now more than ever due to Google’s Helpful Content Update. Well-written, well-researched content will help you stand out among the rest, build consumer trust, and can help boost your visibility on the SERP.
However, don’t just aim for more impressions. Set your sights on capturing meaningful (read: relevant to your brand) impressions. Being seen by people and search engines that don’t find your content useful or worth reading can dampen domain authority and trust.
3. Prioritize core web vitals.
Core web vitals are a set of performance metrics that help to define your site’s user experience (UX). Are your pages loading quickly and correctly? Is your site mobile-friendly? Take an in-depth look at these factors by doing a thorough SEO audit to see where you can make adjustments. By making core web vital updates, you may see improved impressions, clicks, and conversions.
4. Consider product descriptions.
Does your brand have various offerings? If so, getting detailed about the product or services you provide can be beneficial. By creating enriching and unique product descriptions, you can improve UX and increase your odds of performing well in search.
Product descriptions offer several other perks as well. When written with care, they tell customers what your product is and why they need it, aid brand authority, and ultimately, put you on the map for non-branded search queries and served impressions.
Who doesn’t want a piece of that SERP pie?
5. Get specific with local content.
Multi-location brands should prioritize creating content for their local consumers. This is especially true when search demand drops and clicks are down.
Local content targets keyphrases that support the locations your company does business in, in turn helping you gain traffic from untapped customer bases. Additionally, people tend to trust brands closer to home. Having a local content strategy can help breed both trust and domain authority.
Creating content that supports a strong organic presence and performing optimizations may help your brand maintain impressions, domain authority, Google SERP positions — setting you up for increased brand awareness and long-term consumer consideration. This is especially true when brand demand decreases and economic conditions present increased challenges.
The GPO Platform can help you turn things around if your brand is experiencing fluctuating or reduced brand search demand. From product descriptions to localized content, get in touch to learn how we use content at scale to drive demand, generate interest, and connect with consumers — allowing you to focus on serving your customers.