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

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

GSC is broadly thought-about the “single source of truth” for correct key phrase information as a result of it reveals you the precise variety of instances your web page appeared in Google’s search outcomes for a particular 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 circumstances).

As for GKP, its search quantity information is thought to be loads much less exact. Mainly as a result of:

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

And but, a variety of search engine optimisation professionals are completely pleased with the search volumes they get from GKP and think about them to be correct.

So we determined to run slightly experiment and research how search volumes from GKP stack up in opposition to the “single source of truth,” aka GSC.

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 information from GKP (for the identical month).

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

Bar chart showing 91.45% of search volumes in GKP are overestimates

But the true query is by how a lot? After all, if it solely overestimates search volumes barely, then what’s the massive deal?

Here’s the reply:

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 search engine optimisation nerds amongst you, right here’s a extra granular view of how GSC information compares to GKP:

Bart chart showing big search volume difference between GKP and GSC

Quite a discrepancy, proper?

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

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

According to our GSC information, the key phrase “ahrefs” received 25,436 impressions in June (within the U.S.):

GSC data on Ahrefs' total impressions

But if we take a look at the information from GKP for the identical month, it reveals a search quantity of 33,100:

GKP data on Ahrefs' total search volume

This implies that the “GKP/GSC” ratio for this key phrase is 1.3x. Not too dangerous, however not very correct both.

So what’s inflicting this discrepancy?

Apparently, the GKP search quantity for the key phrase “ahrefs” consists of the search volumes of all its misspellings that we will 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 many others

We 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

But when a key phrase’s search quantity accounts for its misspellings, it’s not that huge of a deal, proper? In truth, it may really be fairly helpful.

Well, there are some circumstances 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:

But for those who take a look at the search outcomes for the key phrase “chusky,” you’ll immediately see that it’s not a misspelling. Rather, it’s a singular canine breed, that means that it ought to have a definite search quantity of its personal.

Pictures of chusky dogs

Same story with these 4 key phrases: “red room,” “red rose,” “red rock,” and “red robin”:

GKP treats them as one, but you don’t even have to check the search results to know that these things are not the same.

A few more examples:

  • american banks & bank of america
  • mosquito bites & mosquito bits
  • book a driver & drive book

In all honesty, these kinds of “false groupings” are not common, but they may cause you lots of headaches should you stumble across one of them.

What’s a lot more common (and irritating) is that GKP doesn’t show distinct search volumes for closely related search query variations.

For example, the following search queries are grouped together in GKP with no way to see individual search volumes:

  • pc games free download
  • free pc games download
  • free games download for pc
  • download free games for pc
  • free pc game downloads
  • download pc games free
  • free games to download for pc

Variations of

This “grouping” issue is then being picked up by every SEO tool that pulls its search volume data from GKP (and nearly all of them do that).

But here at Ahrefs, we mix keyword data from multiple sources (including many years of historical clickstream data). This allows us to “un-group” search queries and show the distinct search volume for each variation:

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

Knowing the distinct search volume of each individual search query prevents you from accidentally overestimating a topic’s total search traffic potential when summing the search volumes of all keywords in a group.

Other than that, knowing the most popular ways of how people phrase their search queries can help you adjust the language of your page accordingly and come up with a more eye-catching page title.

As you can tell, this “grouping” feature in GKP can be frustrating for us SEOs. But it’s not like we can blame GKP for hiding precise search volumes from us. GKP is a tool for advertisers, not SEOs. And this grouping of similar keywords is actually convenient for them.

GSC shows local impressions for search queries with local intent

According to GKP, the keyword “golf courses” has an impressive average monthly search volume of one million in the U.S.:

Data showing keyword

But right here’s the factor. Depending on the placement of the place you’re looking from, you’ll see completely different pages rating for this key phrase:

  • If you search from Rochester, you’ll see a web page from at #2.
  • If you search from Bakersfield, you’ll see a web page from at #1.

Top 5 pages in Rochester and Bakersfield, respectively

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

And solely the proprietor of an enormous web site like (which appears to have pages rating for “golf courses” in each conceivable location) would seemingly 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 might be seen in our graph above.

“Impressions” in GSC are typically inflated by bot visitors

Let’s speak about these uncommon circumstances the place GSC reveals the next search quantity than GKP.

We consider that it seemingly occurs due to the bot visitors. According to John Mueller, not all the impressions from bots are filtered in GSC:

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

— 🧀 John 🧀 (@JohnMu) August 6, 2021

But what is “bot traffic?”

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

The “bots” that I’m positive you’re acquainted with 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 advertisements to place some strain on their rivals.

Anyhow, based on our research, GSC information appears artificially inflated in solely 0.5% of circumstances. So it’s unlikely that you’ll undergo a lot from bots polluting your GSC studies.

How does Ahrefs’ search quantity information stack up?

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

Well, 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 accurate” values in 60% of circumstances vs. 45% of circumstances for GKP. 

That is generally because of our capacity to “un-group” clusters of comparable key phrases and report distinct search volumes for every of them.

So for those who had been questioning why the search volumes in Ahrefs are usually not the identical as these in GKP, now you already know that’s by design.

Final 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 information science group for carving out a while of their busy schedules to assist me with this analysis.

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