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Google Says Impressions Do Not Equal Search Volume

There's no correlation between the amount of impressions your site gets for a particular keyword and the search volume for that keyword.

google impressions search volume

Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller says the impressions your site receives for a keyword is not an indication of the search volume for that keyword.

This is stated on Twitter in response to a question regarding whether impressions data in Google Search Console can be used to estimate search volume.

For example, if you have a page ranking in the first position for a particular keyword, and it’s receiving 1,000 impressions per month, does that mean the keyword’s search volume is 1,000 monthly queries?

No, that’s not how it works, Mueller says.

Impressions Are Not Search Volume

First, Mueller clarifies how impression data differs from search volume data:

“The impressions are the impressions your site received in search. It’s not necessarily all the impressions shown to all users. It’s not the search volume. Also, all tools guess & simplify search volume, so the numbers you see in search volume tools will always be wrong.”

Syed Sufiyan, the Twitter user who posed the initial question, presses further.

He has a page that ranks in position one for a certain keyword. So he asks if the impressions the page receives is indicative of the amount of searches being conducted for that keyword.

Sufiyan states:

“Thanks for the clarification, but still I’m confused!
For Instance:
I have a keyword/query (Suppose “Buy Shoes”) in the Search Console that is ranking on 1st position and getting 1000 impressions in one month so the search volume should be 1000 too?”

Sufiyan is assuming, since the page ranks first, that his page is being shown to everyone who enters the keyword into Google.

Therefore, according to his reasoning, the number of impressions shown in Search Console could be used as a way to figure out the keyword’s monthly search volume.

Mueller quickly dismisses that theory:

“Not necessarily. Just because you’re ranking 1st in some cases, doesn’t mean the page is always shown.”

Even though rank trackers show that a page is ranking first for a specific keyword, it’s not accurate to assume it’s being shown for 100% of searches.

So the impression data for a page ranking #1 is not the same as the search volume of the keyword it ranks for, since the page isn’t shown to all searchers.

There are a number of reasons why a page wouldn’t be shown to all searchers, despite ranking number one for a keyword.

The layout of the search results page can impact how many impressions the organic links receive.

For example, if there’s a bunch of Google Shopping and Google Ads results shown, the searcher mayhave to scroll down a bit before seeing the organic links.

In a case like that, an impression wouldn’t be recorded for the page in the first position if the searcher never scrolls down far enough to see it.

Another reason could be personalization and the fact that search results are not identical for all users.

The key takeaway here is that impressions are not a reliable indicator of search volume.

Source: @JohnMu On Twitter

Featured Image: marc gusev/Shutterstock

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Google Says Impressions Do Not Equal Search Volume

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