Traffic estimation with Google’s traffic estimator

I was reading Aaron’s excellent post on the value of a #1 ranking in Google, and decided to do a quick check on one of my most important keywords in the Google traffic estimator, vs. Google Analytics, and I was once again astonished by how incredibly bad the estimator data is when noone is bidding on a keyword… Check this out:

traffic estimator data for the term \

So that’s 1 or 2 clicks a day… Now check out the stats for on that term, which holds the #1 and #2 position, with sitelinks:

google analytics data for on term css3

6,600 visitors where using the term css3 as or as a part of their search query, and clicked on the organic results for in the last month. That’s 220 a day. So either the ratio of a #1 and #2 ranking with sitelinks vs. an AdWords ad is 110-220 to 1, or the data in the traffic estimator is crap…

21 Responses

  1. Patrick Altoft
    By Patrick Altoft on 4 May, 2008

    Because there are no advertisers for the keyword (or very few) then I doubt the click data is being exported from the organic search department to the Adwords tool.

  2. Rosenstand
    By Rosenstand on 4 May, 2008

    Hi Joost!

    In the danish language I rarely (never) see data in the traffic estimator that are even remotely realistic. And I don’t think organic here. E.g.: The traffic estimator says 6-10 click a day, but the real world stats shows between 90 and 120 click a day on the keyword. Maybe because Danish is such a small language? Do you recognize this for strictly Dutch campaigns?

  3. Tom Broekhoven
    By Tom Broekhoven on 5 May, 2008

    I allso was really astonished when using the traffic estimator for a few specific words that lead numerous people to some Website.

    They receive over 300 people alone for that term, still the traffic tool tells me it has a very low search volume..

    I strongly believe that the value of the traffic estimator is overrated.

  4. Joost de Valk
    By Joost de Valk on 5 May, 2008

    @Patrick: isn’t Google supposed to make money on the long tail? :)

    @Rosenstand: Dutch tends to be pretty realistic for words that have bids in AdWords…

    @Tom: it is, but especially so for words without advertisers.

  5. Sander
    By Sander on 5 May, 2008

    I use adwords to promote a webdev conference I’m organizing, but the CPC they ask are insane. A minimum bid of € 4 to € 8 to advertise on keywords like php, js and css/css3. No wonder nobody advertises on it, and thats why there is no traffic history to generate a good estimation.

  6. Anil Varghese
    By Anil Varghese on 6 May, 2008

    Hi, the ‘Estimated clicks/day’ shown is only the AdWords numbers for that keyword(css3) – and doesn’t show the real traffic. What that means is, for this keyword the PPC clicks were only 1-2 per day.
    Why this number makes sense for advertisers is – this is the number of clicks one can expect for this keyword on AdWords. Imagine if Google shows even organic clicks – it’d look inflated when compared with actual PPC clicks, which advertisers may not like – and Google isn’t taking ‘any’ chance with that ;-)

  7. Joost de Valk
    By Joost de Valk on 6 May, 2008

    @Anil: please, re-read the article :) I know it’s the AdWords clicks, and I also know that this number is ridiculously low even for that. “No chances”? My god they’re making sure nobody will advertise on that keyword this way…

  8. Paul @ Web Design Ireland
    By Paul @ Web Design Ireland on 6 May, 2008


    Unfortunately accurate keyword data involves investment in Wordtracker or similar. Sometimes finding that keyword involves long tailing until you accidently stumble across the killer keyword.

  9. sanjeev
    By sanjeev on 14 May, 2008

    Hi, the ‘Estimated clicks/day’ shown is only the AdWords numbers for that keyword(css3) – and doesn’t show the real traffic. What that means is, for this keyword the PPC clicks were only 1-2 per day

  10. Ilja
    By Ilja on 15 May, 2008

    Traffic Estimation sucks.
    I work as marketeer at the biggest postorder in garden products in Europe. We work in 20 countries and have 20 sites. Key searches in analytics is Way more than estimated In Germany. Funny thing is that the Estimation for the Netherlands is about the same as the total hits for this keyword. It is a position 1 for us. I made a little calculation between different programs and even used ( for the percentages) the old AOL Dump data to look at the losses when it should be rank 1 or lower.

    This Traffic Estimation is Deadwrong at most of the points if you ask me. Next season Adword campaigns are going to run again but i realy don’t use the traffic estimator for predictions. We use our data we already have. 39% of our traffic is Organic and that is lets say pure and i have taken of the keyword that people uses to just make an easy click to our site without writing the complete url in the addressbar.


    Even Analytics figures are not precise.

    My advise is to use these programs as a extra commercial point of view and not as pure data

  11. Tom Broekhoven
    By Tom Broekhoven on 16 May, 2008

    Most of the time I use a combination of the Adwords Estimator and the Yahoo Search Marketing tool.

    Allso It’s allways good to talk with people from a company and let them describe their business.

    Adwords is good thing for experimenting keywords and their value. I allways use regular expressions to filter the keywords users really use. Some really good keywords roll out from time to time.

  12. mardinumut
    By mardinumut on 29 August, 2008


  13. Peter@latterkonsulent
    By Peter@latterkonsulent on 17 October, 2008

    I have just started an adwords campaign and was very confused, It helps to know that I am not the only one that thinks the traffic estimator is at all accurate.

    The data in the google suggest keyword tool does not even match the date in the traffic estimator.

  14. sasha
    By sasha on 26 April, 2009

    My favourite traffic estimator is

  15. Allied
    By Allied on 1 May, 2009

    Great post. I always wonder how accurate the traffic estimator works…

  16. Bjarke - Jobigen
    By Bjarke - Jobigen on 21 June, 2009

    thanks for the introduction to traffic estimation, nice to get it all sorted out for us dummies

  17. Electronic Cigarettes
    By Electronic Cigarettes on 13 July, 2009

    The traffic estimator tool is almost always no where near my real traffic. I don’t get it either.

  18. ladybird
    By ladybird on 1 October, 2009

    My personal favourite traffic estimation website is . It seems to generate very accurate traffic information.

  19. Anders Holm
    By Anders Holm on 1 November, 2009

    As Rosenstand has pointet out is the danish side of googles traffic estimator not realistic… But I hope it will be in time… This tool would be priceless if it was precise!

  20. E Cigarette
    By E Cigarette on 23 November, 2009

    i know for some of my keywords, traffic estimator says not enough data, but its realistically 30000 visits a month.