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Google Webmaster Tools - Bloated Impressions, 10x Actual
Sally Stitts

 6:04 pm on Feb 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Does anybody know why Google Webmaster Tools always reports my impressions as TEN TIMES ACTUAL?

They say I have x,000,000 impressions for the last 30 days, when in fact, the number is about 1/10 of that. This is not new.

I am just wondering how I can trust ANYTHING that GWT reports, when the most basic of stats is obviously incorrect. BY A FACTOR OF 10!



 6:15 pm on Feb 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

is it one particular search string, or overall?

[edited by: netmeg at 6:16 pm (utc) on Feb 7, 2011]


 6:15 pm on Feb 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Only Google knows how many impressions your URLs are getting. That number is not clicks, just impressions where your URL appeared on a SERP somewhere. So it's bound to be many times the number of actual clicks.

Sally Stitts

 7:25 pm on Feb 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Overall. Total impressions for the month.
Under "Your Site on the Web" - "Search Queries" - Last 30 days.
And yes, the clicks are bloated, as well, indicating a 13% CTR. (Yeah, right, I wish.) The number of clicks reported is 29 times actual.

As referenced to what AdSense reports for the same period.
Are my pages being shown 1 time with AdSense, and 9 times without?
I don't get it.
I think that GWT data is from outer space.


 7:46 pm on Feb 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

I think that GWT data is from outer space.

That's been known to happen ;) What do we want for free, eh?

I will say that I have about 100 sites I'm working with in WMT at any given time. A lot of the time, the data seems at least ballpark accurate, and I often find actionable information that I was missing through other channels

Sally Stitts

 8:18 pm on Feb 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

True enough.

I'm just having trouble with the "ballpark accurate" thing.
Define ballpark - within 2X?
But at 10x, it is mystifying.


 8:50 pm on Feb 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Right - ballpark to me means within a degree of magnitude, and should be well within that limit. A 10x error is not that and points to a data problem somewhere.


 9:04 pm on Feb 7, 2011 (gmt 0)

Ok well, when you got scraped / stolen from / whatever is it possible that there were some links in there that still went back to you?

I'd go look at the query data and see if it's all your pages, or just a few.

(I'm certainly not saying that GWT can't be wrong, but I'd probably look everywhere - including my log files - to make absolutely sure)


 5:09 am on Feb 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

Are my pages being shown 1 time with AdSense, and 9 times without?

Uh, the impressions are times your title and description showed in the SERPs AFAIK... So, I don't know how AdSense would have any correlation?

13% click through would mean your page showed 100 times in the SERPs and got 13 clicks, which seems to match your AdSense 10% number fairly closely...

Some of the accuracy would probably depend on when/what they count as an impression too... If it's while people are typing in the search box with instant on, then I could see where you could easily have 4 or 5 impressions before a search is even completed.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding something in your post?

The number of clicks reported is 29 times actual.

Not sure on this one, but some of that could be misreporting, and what you consider to be actual v. what they consider to be a click... Some of it could be those who surf with JS off, possibly new v. repeat visitors.

There are a bunch of things that go into each set of numbers and visitor counting is not an exact 'thing' by any means... Try comparing your server log visitors to your javascript (AdSense or Analytics) visitors some time and see if you can figure out how many people actually visited your site for the first time ever last month... You'll have a headache within an hour, possibly as quick as 15 minutes; I can about guarantee it.

I wouldn't expect anything except 'close guesses' from stats ever.

I have sites with GA on them and register more sales than GA tracks, why? Maybe people don't make it to the thank you page, maybe the JS doesn't register before they close the thank you page, if there's more 'sales' in GA than are actual, maybe someone clicked refresh on the thank you page.

If your GWT account is off by a factor of 10, then delete a 0 from the end and work with the percentages... They're site: count has been off by that at some times previously, and if you code much at all you know it's an easy mistake to make, but finding and fixing it is fairly low on the priority list, because it's only possibly a big deal to a webmaster and fixing it doesn't make you a dime... I'd cut 'em a bit of slack on this one, especially if it's as simple as removing a 0 from the end of the number to get what you are thinking is correct.

ADDED: Clicks from GWT v. PageViews on your site could easily be someone clicked back before your page (especially if you have js stats) loaded too. If you use JS stats at the bottom of the page even more so, because if a visitor clicks back before the JavaScript loads the visitor is not counted, but you got a click from Google.

If your site is slow or somehow doesn't load then you got a click from Google, but no visit. A short time ago ATT had a routing issue and none of my sites would load for certain parts of the country... Google sent me clicks, but I didn't get any visits. They're numbers aren't wrong, and neither are my stats, but they don't match...

[edited by: TheMadScientist at 5:27 am (utc) on Feb 8, 2011]


 5:21 am on Feb 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

If it's while people are typing in the search box with instant on...

And it is - if there's a three second pause in typing.

Also, as TheMadScientist emphasized above, Adsense impressions have absolutely nothing to do with SERPs impressions - two very different kinds of "impressions". Adsense needs your actual page to load in the browser. SERP impressions just need your URL to show up in a search result. It seems like that might be the distinction that's been throwing your stat interpretations for a loop.

[edited by: tedster at 5:32 am (utc) on Feb 8, 2011]


 5:24 am on Feb 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

You should also check if the number of impressions suddenly rise for a particular keyword(s). For one of our site, one keyword suddenly started to show x,000,000 impressions for two days and then went back to normal (<10). Surprisingly this keyword was reported with quotes (phrase match) in webmaster account - something I had not seen before.


 12:29 pm on Feb 8, 2011 (gmt 0)

All I could say is I had always seen a positive correlation between the number of impression and traffic to that page.I then try to see what keywords drive the traffic to check where i rank for them.

As Tedster has said. it definitely gives you a lot of actionable info and I don't expect accuracy from GWT...

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