SEO Impressions: What They Are, Why They Matter, and How to Increase Them - 1Digital® Agency
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SEO Impressions

We digital marketers tend to throw around a lot of terms and we assume everyone knows what we know. There’s actually a term for this. It’s called the “curse of knowledge.” 

Not to sound arrogant, but that does strike us. We assume others know what we’re talking about when we say things like search intent, keyword difficulty, organic traffic, and so on and so forth. 

One of the most important terms in this vertical is called an “impression.” It’s also one of the most vital statistics we SEO people look at when evaluating the performance of a campaign. 

But what is an “SEO” impression (it’s the same as a regular impression, by the way) and why does it matter? 

Let’s take a closer look. 

What Is an “SEO” Impression? (AKA, Just an Impression)

Fortunately, this is one of the easiest terms in all of digital marketing to explain. 

An impression is basically when you see something online – in SEO, an impression is when you see a listing for a web page in the organic search results. 

Open a browser right now and type something into the search bar. Look at the results. All of those listings that you just saw each received one impression from you. 

Think of it this way: They each made one impression on you. That’s how this works. 

It’s not the same as a page view or a click. To get a page view from an impression, first, the user must see the page (an impression) and then click on it. 

So in short, an impression is the precursor to a click. 

By this point, why this matters for SEO should already be pretty clear, but just in case it isn’t, let’s go one layer deeper. 

SEO Impression

Why This Matters for SEO

An impression is sort of like a fundamental building block for SEO. To gain organic traffic, impressions must increase. 

But there are two prerequisites for impressions: search volume and organic rankings.

Take a given keyword as a thought experiment. Let’s just use “SEO” as a hypothetical example, with the caveat that I’m going to make numbers up completely. 

Let’s say that the keyword “SEO” had zero monthly searches. Let’s also say that you had a web page with a page one, spot one ranking for that search term. 

You’d get zero monthly impressions. 

Let’s say, conversely, that the keyword “SEO” had 10,000 monthly searches, but that you were unranked for that specific search term. 

You’d still get zero monthly impressions. 

So, to get impressions, you need these two things. Optimizing for SEO will improve your organic rankings, but without search volume, that’s kind of pointless. 

So, with that said, let’s take a look at some specific things you can do to optimize your website, so your organic rankings improve – that way, if there’s volume for those terms, impressions will improve too. 

How to Increase Impressions 

One of the great things about SEO is that, provided you choose viable keywords, improving impressions is actually not that hard. 

Here’s the thing, though. If you optimize for difficult keywords, you’re not going to see a sharp spike in impressions, if you see improvements at all. 

There are three main things that will influence whether or not you can increase impressions. Search volume, difficulty, and your website’s domain authority. 

To illustrate this, you’re going to need to use a tool like SEMRush. Look up a keyword, any keyword. If it has a difficulty below 40, it shouldn’t be that hard to improve impressions for it. 

If it’s below 20, you’re in an even better position. Remember, volume will influence how many more impressions you get after optimizing because this illustrates how many people are searching for that term.

Next, check domain authority. There are lots of free tools for checking. I like the Moz and Ahrefs DA checkers. Moz invented this metric, so their tool is probably the more accurate and reliable one. 

The higher your domain authority is, the easier it will be for you to improve your average position after optimizing. Just be aware of that. If your DA is below 10 (really low) it’s going to be hard for you to improve impressions. If your DA is above 30, there’s a good chance you can improve impressions within a few weeks (or even days) after optimizing. 

One more tip is to pick keywords that are topically relevant to your niche. If you sell shoes, you can get away with boot, shoe, and footwear-related keywords, maybe even laces and polish and stuff like that. Stay away from bike-related keywords (just an example).

Once you’ve picked a keyword you want to optimize for and improve impressions for, pick a page. It could be a blog page or a product page, it doesn’t really matter, but it helps if that page contains content that is relevant to the keyword. 

SEO Impressions
Improving impressions for a topically-relevant keyword can be as easy as inserting the keyword in headings throughout the target page.

Here are some things you can do to optimize the page: 

  • Insert the keyword in headers (this is tip number one and the easiest thing you can do to improve impressions for a keyword).
  • Add the keyword in the copy throughout the page.
  • Include the keyword in image alt text or image file names.
  • Include the keyword in metadata and page titles.
  • Draft an entirely new blurb for the page containing the keyword (1-2 instances of it) and insert that somewhere on the page.
  • Use the keyword as an exact match anchor text on another page on your website, with the link pointing to the page for which you want to increase impressions.


Even if all you do is optimize the page headers, you should start to see impressions creeping up within a few weeks at most, but be patient. Sometimes it can take 6 months to a year, or even more, before you notice a substantial uptick. 

Now there’s one more thing I want to cover before cutting you loose, and that has to do with how to increase clicks, too. 

The Next Step: Impressions, Then Clicks

SEO Impressions
Assuming you’ve optimized for relevant keywords, once impressions improve, clicks and traffic should, too.

Impressions are great, and they are a sign that your website is not only well-optimized but that users are actually searching for terms that make your website show up. 

But in eCommerce, specifically, impressions are only half the battle. No one can buy anything through your website without clicking on it.

The bad news is there’s nothing you can do to force clicks. But, if you are getting impressions and a really low click-through rate (the average for all industries is about 2%), there are things you can do to change that. 

First, is adjusting your meta descriptions. This is a chance to sell your products or entice people to click. Advertise promotions or special discounts or sales. Use CTAs and urgency plays to get people to walk through your virtual doors. 

The other thing you can do is go back and adjust your keyword strategy. This is why search intent is so important. 

The problem might be that you’ve optimized for a keyword that is irrelevant to your target audience. Go into Google Search Console, figure out what your website is getting impressions (but not clicks) for, and then search that term. Look at the listings above you. Are they for similar pages to yours? 

You can’t be sure they’re getting more clicks than you are, but if they’re above you in the organic search results, they probably are. Also, if the page is not similar to yours, that’s probably the reason. 

People are seeing your organic listing but it isn’t what they’re looking for, so they click on a different one (or search something else).

Go back into SEMrush and see if you can pull up another related and relevant keyword, then optimize for that as well. You don’t need to remove all instances of your other keywords. Just add to the page (within reason) and eventually, you should start to see that page getting not only more impressions but more clicks. 

Just be patient. It can take a long time. 



Michael Esposito

Mike Esposito is a professional SEO copywriter spurned by a love of language and creativity. When he's not at the keyboard, you may be able to catch a rare glimpse of him enjoying the outdoors or sipping fine literature.

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