What's Exact Match Impression Share | Search Scientists

What’s Exact Match Impression Share? 28/100 Days of AdWords Help

I audit around 150 AdWords accounts every year. That’s about three different accounts a week. Today, I’ll discuss one of the most important metrics in these audits: Exact Match Impression Share.

This metric will tell me a bunch of important health signs about the campaigns. Primarily: Is the campaign wasting a bunch of money on irrelevant clicks? Pretty important metric to be aware of huh?

Most metrics in AdWords & PPC are intertwined. With one influencing the rise or fall of another related metric.

Exact Match Impression Share is inversely related to wasted spend. Today, let’s dig into what exact match impression share is, and how to optimize our campaigns using this information.

Note: This is not the same as impression share. If you are looking for simple impression share, please see our post: What is Impression Share?

Finding Exact Match Impression Share:

Most important metrics inside AdWords are hidden away. EMIS is no exception. To start this exercise:

  1. Click ‘Columns’
  2. Competitive Metrics
  3. Search Exact Match IS

competitive metrics

What is Exact Match Impression Share?

Exact match impression share is one of the most challenging to understand metrics in all of paid traffic. I remember the first time I read about it years and years ago in Brad Geddes’ famous book Advanced Google AdWords. I had to read about the metric over and over again to fully grasp it.

To understand exact match impression share, we first need to explain: this has nothing to do with match types.

We’ve covered the four different match types in previous days of AdWords Help. Use the links below for a quick refresher. Be aware that match types are only indirectly related to exact match impression share.

What IS important to remember is that match types are related to search queries. We covered this in our “Keywords vs Search Queries” Post.

  • Keyword: What you bid on
  • Search Query: What you appear for
  • What controls what you appear for? Match Types.
  • Is there a metric that tells me how often my keywords match up with my search queries? Yes. And we’re talking about it today!

Remember, your ads can appear for 100s or 1,000s of different search queries. If you bid on “running shoes” phrase match, you might appear for the search query “running shoes that glow in the dark”. This match-up is what exact match impression share is.

Exact Match Impression Share is the percentage of time your keywords and search queries match up exactly.

Let’s take a look at a few examples. Pay attention to how match types can influence our targeting – exact match impression share.

High Exact Match Impression Share

high exact match impression share
Using Exact Match Keywords Gives us a High Exact Match Impression Share

Since exact match helps us appear for queries that exactly match our keywords, you can see how the EMIS is very high – 100%.

Mid-Range Exact Match Impression Share

mid range exact match impression share
Phrase and Modified Broad Matches Yield a Mid-Range EMIS

Phrase matches and Modified broad matches help control the targeting of our queries. They usually yield a mid-range EMIS.

Low Exact Match Impression Share

Finally, we are brought to the worst of the worst. A very low exact match impression share.

low exact match impression share
Broad Match Gives us the Lowest EMIS

Broad match usually provides the lowest exact match impression share.

What’s a Good Exact Match Impression Share?

So you may be sitting there thinking: “Okay, I should only use exact match keywords because that will give me a 100% exact match impression share, and I’ll never waste any money. Right?!”


Remember, you can never predict all the searches your visitors will eventually make. In fact, everyday, 15% of Google Searches have never been seen previously. This means, if you want to take advantage of the long tail, you will have to use phrase, modified broad, and even – with caution – broad match.

Typically, I consider a healthy exact match impression share to be around 70-80%. Anything higher tells us we’re controlling too many of the searches, not allowing room for keyword discovery. Anything lower, we’re starting to risk irrelevant queries and wasted spend.

How to Improve Exact Match Impression Share

Of course, AdWords isn’t about being perfect – it’s about trying to improve week over week. So if your EMIS is outside of 70-80%, here are some tips to get your metrics on target.

Clean Up Your Search Queries By Adding a Bunch of Negative Keywords

Even if you have a high EMIS, you should also be cleaning up your search queries and be looking for new negative keywords. Adding negatives will clear out your irrelevant search queries, and in turn – reduce your wasted spend – and increase your EMIS.

Follow this simple protocol:

  • Look at your search query report once a week.
  • Find any bad search queries, and add them to your campaigns as negative keywords.
  • Use Keyword Research Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to regularly research new negatives.

Monitor and Control Your Match Types

There are a ton of different strategies for organizing your keywords into ad groups, and how to delegate different match types. For beginners, I usually recommend the following as described in my ad group organization post.

  • 5-10 Keywords Per Ad Group
  • 7-8 Exact Match (Strongest bid)
  • ~2 Modified Broad (Bid 20% less than strongest bid)
  • ~2 Phrase (Bid 20% less than strongest bid)
  • 1 Broad (Bid 50% of your strongest bid)

Structuring your ad groups in this way will force your search queries to get started on the right foot. You’re dedicating most of your spend on the highest level of targeting, but still allowing for some low-cost keyword discovery.

Closing Thoughts on Exact Match Impression Share

EMIS can be one of the most confusing – and important – metrics in AdWords. As long as you understand the roles of match types and search queries, you can understand exact match impression share.

Remember, it’s the percentage of time your keywords match up exactly with the search queries triggering your ads.

EMIS will continue to remain a reliable way to see how targeted the keywords are, and how tightly tuned our keyword control is. The higher it is, the more control. Too high, and we’re limiting ourselves from discovering new keywords people are searching. Too low, and we’re opening ourselves up to the potential of costly, irrelevant searches triggering our ads.

Keep your exact match impression share in the 70-80% range, and you’ll set yourself up for a balance of discovery and control.

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Michael Erickson

Emailing my clients and telling them I helped increase their return on ad spend by 300% never gets old. I love rising above the technical jargon and providing your business with online marketing momentum to reach new heights. Enthusiast for all things science, surfing, and Search Scientists.

3 Replies to “What’s Exact Match Impression Share? 28/100 Days of AdWords Help”

  1. Great article! I do have a question. I am running a dynamic search ad campaign with a 64% EMIS.

    Since you don’t use keywords, how is it calculating EMIS? I would have assumed it should just be the IS, but EMIS is about 2% points higher than IS.

    1. great question and thanks for the love.

      EMIS on DSA campaigns basically means -> the % of time the user search matches up with the term that google scanned on your website EXACTLY. Thanks it 😀

  2. If the interpretation of exact match IS in this article was correct it would always be 100% for exact match keywords. It isn’t.

    Exact match impression share doesn’t tell you what percentage of searches exactly matched the keyword.

    It is
    (impressions that your campaign received for searches that exactly matched your keyword)
    divided by
    (total estimated number of exact match impressions you were eligible to receive)

    See https://support.google.com/adwords/answer/7103898

    Example: Your keyword is flowers (broad match).

    1) 100 searches for flowers. Your ad is shown every time. Your exact match IS is 100%.

    2) 50 searches for flowers, 50 searches for roses. Your ad is shown for all 100 searches. Your exact match IS is still 100% (50/50*100).

    3) 100 searches for flowers, 0 searches for roses. Your ad is shown 70 times. Your exact match IS is 70% (70/100*100).

    4) 20 searches for flowers (ad shown 10 times), 100 searches for roses (shown 80 times).
    Your exact match IS is 50% (10/20*100).

    For exact match keywords (e.g. [flowers]) exact match IS = impression share.

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