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Comparing Search Volumes for 72k Keywords [A Study by Ahrefs]

There are two sources of key phrase search quantity knowledge that come straight from Google: Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Key phrase Planner (GKP). We determined to check the numbers between the 2 and see how a lot they align.

GSC is broadly thought of the “single supply of fact” for correct key phrase knowledge as a result of it reveals you the precise variety of occasions your web page appeared in Google’s search outcomes for a selected key phrase.

So in case your web page constantly ranks on the entrance web page of Google for a given search question, the variety of impressions for that question in GSC ought to precisely mirror the search quantity (in most instances).

As for GKP, its search quantity knowledge is thought to be lots much less exact. Primarily as a result of:

  • It teams key phrases with related that means.
  • It rounds search volumes into buckets.

And but, plenty of website positioning professionals are completely pleased with the search volumes they get from GKP and take into account them to be correct.

So we determined to run just a little experiment and research how search volumes from GKP stack up towards the “single supply of fact,” aka GSC.

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Comparing search volumes between GSC and GKP

For this experiment, we took 72,635 random key phrases within the 1K to 10K search quantity vary. Then we in contrast the variety of “impressions” in GSC with the search quantity knowledge from GKP (for the identical month).

The very first thing we discovered is that GKP nearly all the time overestimates “true” search quantity:

However the actual query is by how a lot? In spite of everything, if it solely overestimates search volumes barely, then what’s the large deal?

Right here’s the reply:

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Bar chart where GKP drastically overestimates search volumes 54.28% of the time, is roughly accurate 45.22% of the time

Most search volumes in GKP (54.28%) are overestimations, whereas just below half (45.22%) are roughly correct (i.e., deviating from GSC “impressions” by not more than 50%).

For the website positioning nerds amongst you, right here’s a extra granular view of how GSC knowledge compares to GKP:

Bart chart showing big search volume difference between GKP and GSC

Fairly a discrepancy, proper?

So why don’t we dig just a little deeper and examine the precise causes of such a stark distinction in search volumes between GKP and GSC?

GKP teams key phrases with related that means (and makes errors)

In accordance with our GSC knowledge, the key phrase “ahrefs” obtained 25,436 impressions in June (within the U.S.):

GSC data on Ahrefs' total impressions

But when we have a look at the info from GKP for the identical month, it reveals a search quantity of 33,100:

GKP data on Ahrefs' total search volume

Which means the “GKP/GSC” ratio for this key phrase is 1.3x. Not too unhealthy, however not very correct both.

So what’s inflicting this discrepancy?

Apparently, the GKP search quantity for the key phrase “ahrefs” contains the search volumes of all its misspellings that we are able to see in our GSC:

  • ahref (2,826 impressions)
  • hrefs (906 impressions)
  • aherfs (435 impressions)
  • arefs (267 impressions)
  • a hrefs (224 impressions)
  • aherf (185 impressions)
  • ahrfs (100 impressions)
  • and so forth

We all know this as a result of GKP groups them together (and reveals the identical search quantity that it reveals for “ahrefs”):

List of misspellings of

However when a key phrase’s search quantity accounts for its misspellings, it’s not that large of a deal, proper? The truth is, it could possibly really be fairly helpful.

Properly, there are some instances when GKP is grouping issues that shouldn’t be grouped. And this may be deceptive for us SEOs.

For instance, the key phrase “chusky” has a search quantity of 550k within the U.S. GKP thinks that it’s a misspelling of “husky” as a result of these two key phrases are being grouped collectively:

However when you have a look at the search outcomes for the key phrase “chusky,” you’ll immediately see that it’s not a misspelling. Quite, it’s a novel canine breed, that means that it ought to have a definite search quantity of its personal.

Pictures of chusky dogs

Identical story with these 4 key phrases: “pink room,” “pink rose,” “pink rock,” and “pink robin”:

GKP treats them as one, however you don’t even should examine the search outcomes to know that these items will not be the similar.

A couple of extra examples:

  • american banks & financial institution of america
  • mosquito bites & mosquito bits
  • guide a driver & drive guide

In all honesty, these sorts of “false groupings” will not be widespread, however they might trigger you a number of complications must you stumble throughout one among them.

What’s much more widespread (and aggravating) is that GKP doesn’t present distinct search volumes for intently associated search question variations.

For instance, the next search queries are grouped collectively in GKP with no technique to see particular person search volumes:

  • laptop video games free obtain
  • free laptop video games obtain
  • free video games obtain for laptop
  • obtain free video games for laptop
  • free laptop recreation downloads
  • obtain laptop video games free
  • free video games to obtain for laptop

Variations of

This “grouping” difficulty is then being picked up by each website positioning device that pulls its search quantity knowledge from GKP (and almost all of them do that).

However right here at Ahrefs, we combine key phrase knowledge from a number of sources (together with a few years of historic clickstream knowledge). This enables us to “un-group” search queries and present the distinct search quantity for every variation:

Table where Ahrefs provides distinct search volumes for each query unlike SEMrush

Realizing the distinct search quantity of every particular person search question prevents you from unintentionally overestimating a subject’s whole search visitors potential when summing the search volumes of all key phrases in a group.

Apart from that, realizing the preferred methods of how folks phrase their search queries will help you regulate the language of your web page accordingly and provide you with a extra eye-catching web page title.

As you possibly can inform, this “grouping” characteristic in GKP may be irritating for us SEOs. Nevertheless it’s not like we are able to blame GKP for hiding exact search volumes from us. GKP is a device for advertisers, not SEOs. And this grouping of comparable key phrases is definitely handy for them.

GSC reveals native impressions for search queries with native intent

In accordance with GKP, the key phrase “golf programs” has a formidable common month-to-month search quantity of 1 million within the U.S.:

Data showing keyword

However right here’s the factor. Relying on the situation of the place you’re looking out from, you’ll see completely different pages rating for this key phrase:

  • In the event you search from Rochester, you’ll see a web page from visitrochester.com at #2.
  • In the event you search from Bakersfield, you’ll see a web page from visitbakersfield.com at #1.

Top 5 pages in Rochester and Bakersfield, respectively

Thus, the house owners of those two web sites will see a unique variety of month-to-month impressions for the key phrase “golf programs” of their GSC. That’s as a result of every web site ranks nicely for this key phrase solely in a selected location.

And solely the proprietor of an enormous web site like golflink.com (which appears to have pages rating for “golf programs” in each conceivable location) would doubtless see the variety of impressions that’s near the 1 million that GKP reveals us.

These “regional” key phrases very often have the most important discrepancy (4x+) between GKP and GSC numbers, which may be seen in our graph above.

“Impressions” in GSC are generally inflated by bot visitors

Let’s speak about these uncommon instances the place GSC reveals a better search quantity than GKP.

We consider that it doubtless occurs due to the bot visitors. In accordance with John Mueller, not the entire impressions from bots are filtered in GSC:

Typically it may be from bots — we don’t essentially filter all of that out in Search Console.

— 🧀 John 🧀 (@JohnMu) August 6, 2021

However what is “bot visitors?”

Properly, that’s any type of script or software program program that does automated searches in Google.

The “bots” that I’m certain you’re accustomed to are rank trackers that make automated searches in Google to report the place your web site ranks.

A a lot nastier instance is bots that generate pretend clicks on Google adverts to place some strain on their rivals.

Anyhow, in keeping with our research, GSC knowledge appears artificially inflated in solely 0.5% of instances. So it’s unlikely that you’ll undergo a lot from bots polluting your GSC experiences.

How does Ahrefs’ search quantity knowledge stack up?

I’m certain a few of you might be questioning how Ahrefs’ search quantity knowledge compares.

Properly, let’s plot “Ahrefs/GSC” ratios proper subsequent to “GKP/GSC” ratios from the earlier graph:

Bar chart showing Ahrefs is more accurate than GKP

It seems like Ahrefs reveals “roughly correct” values in 60% of instances vs. 45% of instances for GKP. 

That’s principally as a consequence of our capacity to “un-group” clusters of comparable key phrases and report distinct search volumes for every of them.

So when you have been questioning why the search volumes in Ahrefs will not be the identical as these in GKP, now you realize that’s by design.

Last ideas

I hope you loved this analysis research and that it gave you a greater understanding of how the numbers in GSC and GKP differ and, extra importantly, why they differ.

Have questions? Ping me on Twitter.

And by the way in which, big thanks to our superior knowledge science crew for carving out a while of their busy schedules to assist me with this analysis.

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