There are two sources of key phrase search quantity information 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 source of truth” for correct key phrase information as a result of it exhibits 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 persistently 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 understood to be loads much less exact. Primarily as a result of:

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

And but, a whole lot of search engine optimization professionals are completely proud of the search volumes they get from GKP and contemplate them to be correct.

So we determined to run somewhat experiment and research how search volumes from GKP stack up towards 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 nearly at all times overestimates “true” search quantity:

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

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

Right 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 optimization 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

Fairly a discrepancy, proper?

So why don’t we dig somewhat 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)

Based on our GSC information, the key phrase “ahrefs” bought 25,436 impressions in June (within the U.S.):

GSC data on Ahrefs' total impressions

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

GKP data on Ahrefs' total search volume

Which means that 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” consists of 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 on

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

List of misspellings of "Ahrefs" grouped together

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

Effectively, 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:

"Chusky" and "husky" grouped together

However in case you have a look at the search outcomes for the key phrase “chusky,” you’ll immediately see that it’s not a misspelling. Moderately, it’s a singular 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: “red room,” “red rose,” “red rock,” and “red robin”:

"Red room,” “red rose,” “red rock,” and “red robin” grouped together

GKP treats them as one, however you don’t even need to examine the search outcomes to know that these items should not 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” should not widespread, however they might trigger you plenty of complications must you stumble throughout considered one of them.

What’s much more widespread (and worsening) 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 option to see particular person search volumes:

  • computer video games free obtain
  • free computer video games obtain
  • free video games obtain for computer
  • obtain free video games for computer
  • free computer recreation downloads
  • obtain computer video games free
  • free video games to obtain for computer
Variations of "free pc games downloads" grouped together

This “grouping” situation is then being picked up by each search engine optimization too that pulls its search quantity information from GKP (and practically all of them do that).

However right here at Ahrefs, we combine key phrase information from a number of sources (together with a few years of historic clickstream information). 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 by chance overestimating a subject’s complete search site visitors potential when summing the search volumes of all key phrases in a group.

Apart from that, understanding the most well-liked methods of how individuals phrase their search queries will help you alter the language of your web page accordingly and provide you with a extra eye-catching web page title.

As you may inform, this “grouping” characteristic in GKP could be irritating for us SEOs. However 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 exhibits native impressions for search queries with native intent

Based on GKP, the key phrase “golf courses” has a powerful common month-to-month search quantity of 1 million within the U.S.:

Data showing keyword "golf course" has average monthly search volume of 1 million

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

  • If you happen to search from Rochester, you’ll see a web page from visitrochester.com at #2.
  • If you happen to 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 special 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 properly for this key phrase solely in a particular location.

And solely the proprietor of an enormous web site like golflink.com (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 exhibits us.

These “regional” key phrases have precipitated the largest discrepancy (4x+) between GKP and GSC numbers, which could be seen in our graph above.

Impressions” in GSC are typically inflated by bot site visitors

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

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

However what is “bot traffic?”

Effectively, that’s any sort 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 adverts to place some strain on their rivals.

Anyhow, in accordance with 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 stories.

How does Ahrefs’ search quantity information stack up?

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

Effectively, 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 to be like Ahrefs exhibits “roughly accurate” values in 60% of circumstances vs. 45% of circumstances for GKP

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

So in case you have been questioning why the search volumes in Ahrefs should not the identical as these in GKP, now you understand that’s by design.

Ultimate 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, enormous thanks to our superior information science crew for carving out a while of their busy schedules to assist me with this analysis.