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Blog | How Accurate Is The Google AdWords Traffic Estimator?



How Accurate Is The Google AdWords Traffic Estimator?

Hint – the short answer is “not very”.

While logged in, using a max. CPC of £5, and targeting the UK, here is the estimate for keywords that I am already bidding on :-

No matter how much I adjusted the bids and budgets, the AdWords Traffic Estimator insisted that I could not get more than 9 clicks per day, and if I set the max. CPC at a more realistic 50 pence, it reckoned I could only expect a max. of 3 clicks per day.

Here are the actual figures per day (taken over the last 12 months up to 13th July 2011) *:-

Average CPC = £0.22

Total Clicks = 31

Total Cost = £6.80

So as you can see – to say it is is not very accurate is a bit of an understatement!

*This campaign / ad group is using CPA bidding, and has relatively good keyword Quality Scores, and fairly good ad text – but all the same, I am still getting 4 times the number of clicks at around on eighth of the estimated CPC.

Just in case this was a fluke – lets look at estimates and actual figures for another ad group from another campaign.

(I’ve set the max CPC to £1 this time)

Here are the actual figures per day (taken over the last 12 months up to 13th July 2011) *:-

Average CPC = £0.33

Total Clicks = 12

Total Cost = £4.07

Again, more clicks and much better value were had than the traffic estimator would have you believe.

The above 2 examples were based on ad groups that had fairly specific, product related keywords. So let’s try an ad group that has more ‘generic’ keywords…

Here are the actual figures per day (taken over the last 12 months up to 13th July 2011) :-

Average CPC = £0.07

Total Clicks = 35

Total Cost = £2.49

At this point, you either start to believe that the traffic estimator is always pessimistic or PPCNI are absolute magicians when it comes to writing compelling ads, and optimising bidding strategy (OK – there may a *little* bit of truth in the latter :-)

OK – one final try on a completely different account, that has not been managed by PPCNI for 12 months yet* (This time I have adjusted the max CPC to get the estimated average CPC close to the actual CPC:-

Here are the actual figures per day (taken over the last 12 months up to 13th July 2011) :-

Average CPC = £0.37

Total Clicks = 318

Total Cost = £117.10

Well, there is a turn up for the books – the estimates are actually fairly accurate in this case. Possibly, this is because these search terms are much higher volume than the other ones …

I’d like to add some more observations from other ad groups, but I don’t have any other ad groups that have had a lot of traffic over the last 12 months and have not been extensively tinkered with…

So with the limited amount of data I have I would say that it *seems* if you are good at setting up AdWords, and you are targeting keywords that don’t have massive search volume, then the AdWords Traffic Estimator is usually pretty pessimistic.

If anyone has any similar experiences (or if you have ever found the traffic estimator to be accurate), I’d love to hear from you…

  1. The other thing this brings to light is folks that are looking for adsense income may be thinking they are going to get more than they are.

    In the US, I usually look for phrases that generate an avg of $1/click. Your data shows that the avg would be much lower, especially for the “low hanging fruit”.

    Thanks for the extra research. :O)

  2. I am reasonably new to internet marketing and I have been trying to uncover a few gaps in Google that I will be able to rank for quickly.
    I find it bizarre, that when searching for a phrase using the External tool and I get a result of over 2000 exact searches per month, global and local. When I compare this to Googles traffic estimator, it tells me I will average 0.09 clicks per day paying up to £2.00 for a keyword that is worth squat.
    I can understand that I will never get 2000 clicks on a monthly basis for this keyword, but surely if the keyword is exact I should at least take 300 clicks a month?
    I obviously don’t want to waste my time on keywords and phrases that will return no results.
    Would you recommend I still try to rank for these keywords? I would be happy with just 50 clicks a month ultimately but the traffic estimator tool is making me doubt the adword external tool. Then when typing this phrase into another keyword finder – example traffic travis, it returns ZERO results for the phrase Google claims over 2000 a month for.

    The more puzzling part is that Googles history of the keyword shows consistant search volumes over the years.
    In theory Google should have the correct data as over 60% of the search engine market belongs to them.

    Look forward to reply,

  3. The traffic estimator can be amazingly inaccurate. Take most things it says with a pinch of salt – unless you are looking at *very* high volume search terms it usually gets it very wrong. See for a bit more info.
    I think the keyword tool search estimates are fairly accurate though.
    It can vary immensely – but for commercial terms you should be able to get a CTR of something like 10% for your AdWords ads if you bid enough and your ads are good enough.

  4. Production Music Says:
    November 30, 2011 at 10:31 am

    If you were to believe the traffic estimator every time, then you’d never target lower volume keywords.

    I don’t think the adwords automated campaign recommendations are that great either.

    Maybe at the google offices they automate all the employees also, and then automate that automation, lol.

  5. :-)

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