Differences in AdWords Search Volume and WebMaster Tools Search Queries

Sometimes availability of data is not the problem; correct interpretation is.

The question we want to address today is – what’s the difference in numbers from “AdWords Search Volume” and “Web Master Tools Search Queries”?

AdWords Search Volume is the de-facto source of data to begin keyword research. Any internet marketer in SEO or PPC must have used AdWords Keyword Tool in one form or another. Note, the AdWords Keyword Tool is also available as the “Google keyword tool external” for those who don’t have AdWords account or through an API for advanced users.


AdWords Keyword Tool allows Internet Marketers to find out how many times a keyword is search upon. Note, the different match types such as Broad match, “Phrase” match and [Exact] match as well as Global monthly and Local monthly searches.

Purpose of Google AdWords Keyword Tool
Internet Marketers should not ever forget that the primary objective of Google is to make money for themselves. Google’s source of revenue is by providing an effective means for marketers reach out to customers who search for information. In this regard, the AdWords Keyword Tool is a way for Google to let marketers estimate how many times a particular keyword is searched upon, so that marketers can identify the appropriate keywords to build the AdWords campaign around (to spend advertising dollars, so Google can make money. Nothing wrong with that!). AdWords Keyword Tool suffers from this biggest flaw that it is impure for SEO purposes as it mixes the data from organically searched as well as paid search terms or search queries into a single bucket. Regardless, AdWords Keyword Tool provides a way to put the foundation on keyword research by providing search data, and competition for that term (which is available when data is exported to excel).

Google Web Master Tool Search Queries

Google Web Master Tool’s Search Queries gives out a completely different view of data for any website. While AdWords tool’s main goal is the to “sell” the keywords to marketers, GWT Search Queries communicates to the webmasters by providing a valuable data-set about the website.


Unlike the search tool, this is a “real” data pertaining to the website, where the number of clicks the website has received corresponds the the data in Google Analytics. The impressions data is the number of times the website url came up on Google SERP for that particular search query during that time period. With the impressions and clicks, the CTR and the average position you can truly explain how your website is performing on the Google SERPs.

Note, GWT data does not exactly match Google Analytics data because GWT data is irrespective of bot traffic, and JavaScript dependency of Google Analytics. Generally, GWT data is smaller than GA data. Read more about that here.

If you analyze the relationship of position and CTR, this gives a powerful way to make a predictable model for your future optimization in your own industry (Trust me, this will impress your manager!) . That is a separate blog topic for some other day.

Note, how Google also shows the change and allows filtering of data in various ways. Either through the interface or use your Google Web Master Tools API, export the data into excel for your further data analysis.

With this explanation, now the use of these 2 tools should be pretty clear. AdWords Keyword Tool is to be used to establish a estimate for search volume for a set of keywords for setting up a PPC campaign or to build and prioritize a list of keywords for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). On the other hand, Google Web Master Tool’s Search Query data is to be used to analyze how the website is performing on SERP, what terms are most searched upon, how they behave by ranking at different positions and finally what kind of response are we getting from users with the CTR data. This data is getting more useful as Google is getting worse on their {not provided}, {no set} data hiding in Google Analytics.

With this, the differences between AdWords Search Volume and WebMaster Tools Search Query is now explained. Now, that  the understanding of data is clear, analyzing the data would be equally fun and truly meaningful.


About Ujjwal Bhattarai

Ujjwal is an engineer by education, a programmer by hobby, and an internet marketer by choice. Other than 1 minute chess, and biking, his passion includes SEO, SEM/PPC, CRO, and Web Development. As a lifelong student of Internet Development, he is hopelessly addicted to Internet, and sincerely believes after fire, wheel, and decimal point, internet is the fourth most important invention in the human history. Catch up with him on Twitter at @uj2wal or at his Google+ .

2 comments on “Differences in AdWords Search Volume and WebMaster Tools Search Queries

  1. Maria on said:

    I read with interest your topic
    My problem is that n° of impression using adwords API are a lot more than usind adwords tool. Do you think Is it possible
    Click are the same.
    Many thanks

  2. Both are not perfect only directional. It’s important to understand the what preconditions they have. Having said that the most important aspect is to analyze the relationship of position and CTR, which gives you a powerful way to make a predictable model for future optimization in your own industry for both paid and organic campaigns.

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