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Now, Search Console is likely the most accurate source of keyword data and it’s a site where SEOs go to analyze their impressions, clicks, and keyword rankings. But in or to this data, you have to actuator these keywords. And that’s why SEOs often turn to Google Keyword Planner to accomplish keyword research.

Now, like all SEO tools, Keyword Planner reaches some shortcomings like the point that they unite keywords with similar purposes and spherical search volumes into buckets. These two factors can occasionally cast doubt on their estimates of search volume. Now, for whatever reason, many marketers overlook these shortcomings and think Keyword Planner is the most accurate keyword research tool because the data comes directly from Google.

Well, we looked at data for over 72,000 random keywords and compared impression data from Google Search Console with search volume estimations in Google Keyword Planner. And in this article, we’ll share exactly how accurate or inaccurate Keyword Planner’s search volumes are.

So recently, we did a study to compare Search Console with Keyword Planner data. And the way we did it was relatively simple. We took 72,635 random keywords with a monthly search volume between 1,000 and 10,000. Then we compared the number of impressions in Google Search Console in June 2021 with the search volume data from Google Keyword Planner in the same month.

Now, to draw fair conclusions, we verified that the pages had been in the top 10 results for those terms throughout the same month. It would improve how accurately our impression data reflects the number of searches made during that month. How reliable are the search volumes reported by Google Keyword Planner? We found that 91% of the time, search volumes in Keyword Planner were overestimations to Search Console impression data.

It might sound bad, but if they’re overestimating keywords by a small percentage of monthly searches, it’s not a magnific deal. So we had to reach up with a way to categorize what we considered to exist “roughly accurate” estimations. And to do that, we necessary keywords and an over-under score. So if Keyword Planner’s data was 50% more or less than the total impressions from Search Console, then we classified them as living “roughly accurate.” But anything below or above these thresholds was considered to exist drastically under or over-estimated. For example, if a keyword had a search volume of 8,000 monthly searches and Search Console reported 4,000 impressions, then it’s still technically within this threshold of “roughly accurate.”

So in our opinion, we were pretty generous. Alright, so let’s go back to our data. We found that Keyword Planner’s search volumes were drastically overrated around 54% of the time. And they were roughly accurate around 45% of the time. As for drastic underestimations, it was pretty rare at just 0.5% of the time. Now, to give you a more granular picture of these ratios, we put together this graph. And the most surprising thing here is the truth that Keyword Planner overestimated search volume by at least four times the impressions in Search Console. And this was for 14.8% of the keywords. Now, let’s dig into why Keyword Planner consistently overestimates search volumes as nicely as these wildly overestimated keywords at four times the reported search volume.

Okay, so the primary cause of overestimations is the grouping of terms by Keyword Planner that have “similar” and occasionally not so similar meanings. According to our Search Console data, the keyword “ahrefs” reached 25,859 US impressions in June 2021. On the other hand, a review of Keyword Planner data for the same month reveals a search volume of 33,100.

The reason is that they group similar keywords like these misspellings. But these aren’t a tremendous problem because it’s likely that the searcher wants to get to the same place, right? And the keyword still fits into our category of “basically correct.” But that isn’t always the case. For instance, you can see that Keyword Planner combines keywords like “bank of America,” “American banks,” and “banks in America” together because it believes they are all comparable. But the intent of the keywords is quite different.

Bank of America is a central bank in the United States. So when people search this, they’ll want to find that bank’s website. The majority of the content is educational and focuses on “American banks” and “banking in America.” People are interested in obtaining a list of American banks. Do not go to the Bank of America’s website. As a result, you may search for “American banks” in Keyword Planner when conducting keyword research for, say, a personal finance website and decide that it’s a good topic because there are over 16 million searches for it per month in the US. But the actual search volume of that query is significantly less. “American banks” and “banks in America” receive noticeably less searches than “bank of America” when you compare these three inquiries in Google Trends.

While Keyword Planner will show you the exact search volumes when inputting individual keywords because of this grouping mechanism. So by grouping hidden keywords and summing the accurate search volumes of all quote-unquote “similar” keywords, you’re bound to get overestimations. And this is a big problem because it can set false expectations, leading you to create content and spend resources on topics that may have nearly no search demand.

At Ahrefs, we’re competent to “ungroup” these keywords and show distinct search volumes. In addition, we deliver the traffic potential for each keyword, which is usually a better metric to use than search volume. And the reason for it is that pages don’t rank for just one keyword, and the clickthrough rate varies depending on the term.

Alright, the last thing we want to talk about is these crazy overestimations of over 400%. It suggests that most sites would only get impressions if the searcher existed local to them. However, given that Keyword Planner displays national search volumes, the difference between GSC and GKP may be quite vast. Consider the term “golf courses” as an illustration. Therefore, here are the three SERPs for this question from various places. Three are from different cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, and Nashville.

And as you can see, practically every website in the SERPs is unique from one another based on the place the SERP was composed of it. And these huge authority sites are the only ones that may experience “real” search volume for the query.

Now, after running the data, innately, we wanted to see how Ahrefs’ keyword data compared against Keyword Planner. And here are the results. Compared to the keyword planner’s 0.5% accuracy, our keyword data significantly overestimated search volumes 1.84% of the time. Data from Ahrefs was about accurate 60.68% of the time, compared to 45.22% from Keyword Planner. In addition, compared to GKP’s accuracy of 54.28%, we consistently overestimated search importance 37.48% of the time. The fact that we can “ungroup” groups of related keywords and provide separate search volumes for each of them is most likely the reason why our data had higher “basically correct” search volumes than keyword planner. So how reliable are the search volume statistics from Google Keyword Planner?

Well, it’s better than guessing while you’ll ideally want to use a third-party tool that ungroups keywords like Ahrefs. Finally, none of us want searches; we all want traffic. Attending if you enjoyed this video, then make sure to like, share, and subscribe for more actionable SEO and marketing tutorials.

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