I have just been analysing the stats in Google Webmaster tools for one of my sites and just spotted a very suspicious trend.
Between 4th Sept and 4 Oct 2010 one site received 2400 Google search referrals on 16 occasions. Each time the number of search impressions varied. Also, it received 1900 search referrals (clicks) on 10 days and for the remaining days it received 1600 clicks. On the highest search impression day the site appeared 27,100 times in the Google results pages, but got 2900 clicks. On the highest 2400 click day it had 22,200 impressions and on the lowest 2400 click day it had 18,100 impressions. Below this number of impressions clicks dropped to 1900.
There can only be four explanations for this:
- Webmaster Tools provides false information
- Webmaster Tools rounds everything up or down
- Humans are incredibly predictable, always stopping at 1600, 1900 or 2400 visits per day
- Search referrals are capped by Google
The second option is implausible as I get traffic from all over the World. So unless I am at the centre of a Truman Show type web development reality TV show, I cannot believe that is the reason.
Could Webmaster tools just be wrong? Do they just round everything up or down to the nearest 500 to give an idea of search volume? Maybe, but then what is the point in that? The idea is to help you analyse your traffic to learn why people are coming to your site, what they want and how to get more people. Rounding up or down in lots of 500 goes no way to aid you in this respect.
Actually, it is not lots of 500, the pattern seen in my reports is:
- 1600 Google search clicks
- 1900 Google search clicks
- 2400 Google search clicks
Maybe each band increases by 200 more than the previous difference (probably a statistical term for this, but I was never good at stats). Maybe if I can up my game Google will then send 3100 visitors to the site? If so the next daily Google search click limits will be:
The easiest way to determine if this is the case if for other people to check the Webmaster tools for September to see if any of these daily figures appear in their webmaster tools (Your Site on the Web > Search queries).
So, the final option, that search is capped, that for some sites Google will send X number of visitors to your domain and then turn the tap off, seems to be the only option.
What does this mean? Well, if this is true, then it may become pointless for you to try to win more traffic from Google with a few small changes to your site. Maybe the cap is based on the number of pages you have, or the quality score of content, or the pagerank of the site. Whatever it is, Google do not appear to be telling us anything about it.
If anyone has any insights into this trend please let me know.