Why Have My Google Ads Not Got Any Impressions?

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Written by Navah Hopkins –

This month’s Ask A PPC comes from Vijay, who asks:

“Why are my Google Ads approved but have no impressions? How do you fix it?”

We’re going to go into the timely question of why a Google Ad entity (keyword, ad, ad group, and campaign) might not have impressions.

We will tackle the main and solvable ones, but there will always be edge cases.

If you have questions beyond these, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Why Doesn’t A Google Entity Have Impressions?

The biggest reason is low search volume.

If you’re targeting a long-tail (5+) exact match keyword or a keyword in a hyper-niche industry, that keyword concept may have zero impressions. Also, if the keyword is in a brand-new ad account, it will have a really, really hard time ramping up.

This is why Google tends to suggest using looser ideas in the beginning. You need data to get the ad account up and running, though it’s important to put protections in place.

A common way to do this is to put in bid caps (either through bidding strategies, portfolio bidding, or manual bidding).

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) can help you get ideas of how people search. When paired with max clicks with a bid cap, DSA can give you a reasonable sense of how much your industry will cost as well as search volume.

You may also decide that you want to use a limited broad match with lots of negatives. If you go this route, be careful about which conversion actions you set, as broad match does factor in conversions when considering matching.

There is a reality that some ideas will have lower search volume. If you’re creating a new offering, you may benefit from running visual content (Performance Max should only be used if you have at least 30+ conversions in a 30-day period).

Another reason a keyword might have zero impressions is that the ad hasn’t been approved yet. Google can take up to two days to approve ads (especially in new accounts), so it’s important to factor those timelines in.

Additionally, a previously running ad might have been flagged for editorial review (very common when discussing a trademarked term or anything relating to credit).

You also may have accidental duplicate keywords, which can cause serving issues. If you have more than one keyword that can capture the same traffic, there will be inevitable winners and losers. However, sometimes, they can cancel each other out, and neither will serve.

Another reason for low impressions or zero impressions is that your bids and budgets don’t align with the keyword concepts you’re targeting.

We know that Google has instituted a floor for the auction. If you’re not able to bid for the correct idea or if you ask for a budget to support too many things, you will inevitably end up with zero impressions.

A great way to check for this is to use the Keyword Planner to get a rough sense of what the auction prices will be.

You’ll also want to leverage Google Trends to see how people in different areas are searching and what is trending in different parts of the country that you’re trying to target.

How Can You Solve Low Impressions?

If your low impressions are tied to budgets or bids, and there is no way to invest more, you will need to look for traffic and leads on other channels or other types of Google properties. This may include using display or video.

You may also want to look at Microsoft or other social plays like Meta/Instagram. Part of why auction prices can be cheaper on those channels than Google Search is the inherent transactional bias towards buying off of the search.

If the issue is structure, you likely have too many entities in an ad group or campaign. The answer is to move a little bit of budget and set up a different campaign to cover those ideas or to pause ideas that are hogging the budget that aren’t worth as much.

A very common problem, particularly in campaigns that are running smart bidding, is that there will be initial winners and losers. If you include too many keyword concepts, valuable ones may get lost.

This is part of why Google will be pausing keywords that have zero impressions in the past 13 months so that your account isn’t penalized for having too many zero impression keywords.

If the issue is creative, then the best advice is just to use responsive search and display ads, as well as Performance Max, and keep cycling through the creative and ways to talk about it.

Consider layering in Google’s AI for creative because you’ll have something that they have outright said is correct. Granted, you want to make sure that the creative meets your brand standards.

Final Takeaways

It’s very frustrating when a keyword or ad has zero impressions, and you’re not sure why.

As we’ve discussed, it could be a low search volume issue – you may need to widen what you’re willing to accept.

It could be a bid and budget issue, and you’re just not entering the auction at all (or at least not enough for the spend to matter).

Have a question about PPC? Submit via this form or tweet me @navahf with the #AskPPC hashtag. See you next month!

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Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

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