I'm doing some research into the SEO of one my websites and looking at different keywords and the search traffic they generate.

Let's say I have a search term I'm ranked number one for a keyword and looking at the following reports reveals different results:

  1. Google Analytics reports 6 users visited on a particular day from a search term.

  2. Google Webmaster tools reports I am ranked number one for the same search term and that 22 people clicked it on that same day.

  3. Google Adwords traffic tool estimator reports the daily impressions would be zero for that search term (even when max CPC is 99999 and avg. position is 1).

Is the Adwords traffic estimator a valid tool for SEO research? And why is there such discrepancies between my Google Analytics and Google Webmaster?

2 Answers 2


Well I have a few ideas here. First of all, the most accurate will always be something like Analytics that uses actual server logs to generate statistics. That said here is my opinion:

  1. The Keyword Estimator: This will be the least accurate, it is more of a guess than anything and doesn't pertain to your site in particular. It simply guesses based on the queries to the keyword and average CTR.

  2. Analytics: This is fairly accurate, but there are several things to keep in mine like some people have script blockers, or the script doesn't load before they are off the page. Another huge thing that people often forget is that when browsing over SSL (for example when you are logged into a Google account), Google doesn't send search term results so those won't show up in Analytics (source).

  3. Webmaster Tools: This should be as accurate or more accurate than Analytics, I'm not 100% positive on this but it is likely that the search terms that show up as 'not provided' in Analytics might be counted properly here since it would be anonymous and not tied to a user/ip like it would be in Analytics.

  • 1
    Google Webmaster Tools is by fair the less accurate of all Analytics... It's often incomplete, days behind or just generally plain out incorrect. Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 12:23
  • @bybe odd, I have never experienced that, do you have any more info about webmaster tools inaccuracy? Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 17:05
  • You should be able to do your own research. Look at your rankings within Webmaster Tools then check these against the live results - Your see many are not what they appear on Webmaster Tools. Also if you look at your clicks they are often 2 days behind. Commented Mar 20, 2013 at 18:13

Google Analytics will show a different number of people coming from a keyword than Webmaster Tools will show clicks because a portion of your search keyword traffic in Analytics is unavailable to you -- it's shown instead as "not provided" (see SEOmoz's explanation).

To put it another way, Webmaster Tools is showing you data Google gathers on their servers about which results are clicked for a term entered. Google Analytics is showing you data gathered by your server about the referring keyword contained in the HTTP header -- which increasingly isn't present as Google encrypts the searches of logged-in users, preventing HTTP referrer headers from being sent with their visit to your site.

So Webmaster Tools will provide you with a more accurate view of which keywords (for Google searches) traffic is going to your site from.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.