Almost Half of GSC Clicks Go to Hidden Terms – A Study by Ahrefs

percentage-of-missing-clicks-by-traffic Almost Half of GSC Clicks Go to Hidden Terms - A Study by Ahrefs

Most SEOs consider Google Search Console (GSC) their source of truth and trust the data to be accurate. What if I told you that GSC doesn’t tell you all of the keywords you’re getting traffic from? In fact, the tool doesn’t show a term for nearly half the clicks.

These instances of hidden terms account for 46.08% of all clicks in our study. The study includes one month of data across 146,741 websites and nearly 9 billion total clicks.

Let’s dive in. 

How to check how much data you’re missing

At this point, you may think we’ve made a mistake with the data. That we totaled up only the 1,000 rows shown in the GSC interface that are exportable to get the data, and that’s why so much is missing. 

But that’s not the case. We pulled this data via the API, which allows us to get all of the data—and there’s still a lot missing!

I know everyone’s main concern is going to be how much data is missing from their own site, so I want to provide you with a way to check this. The easiest way to see how many clicks go to terms Google doesn’t show you is to use the GSC connector in Google Data Studio.

I made a Data Studio report that you can copy to check the missing data for your own website. This uses data for the last 12 months. About half the data is missing for my personal site at the time of writing.

1-gsc-data-studio Almost Half of GSC Clicks Go to Hidden Terms - A Study by Ahrefs
Data from shows 48.3% of the clicks have no associated terms.

Make your own copy of the report and add your GSC data as a source. Here’s how:

  • In the top right, click the three dots and then click “Make a copy.”
  • In the dropdown for “New Data Source,” select the GSC data source for the site you’re interested in.
  • If the site isn’t available, select “Create data source.” Search for “Search Console” and click it.
  • Click the GSC property you want to use >  click “Site Impression” > click “Web.” Then in the upper-right corner, click “Connect.”
  • In the upper-right corner, click “Add To Report.”
  • Click “Copy Report.” 

I’d love some self-reported user data for this. If you want to share, tweet your “Grand total” numbers from #1 and #2 to @patrickstox and @ahrefs. Or just PM me on Twitter, and I’ll aggregate the self-reported data to share here at a later date. I suspect most of the user-reported data corroborates with the data from the study that shows the amount missing varies across sites.

Why Google doesn’t show all the data

Google gives a few reasons for this discrepancy

To protect user privacy, the Performance report doesn’t show all data. For example, we might not track some queries that are made a very small number of times or those that contain personal or sensitive information.

I don’t believe for a second that nearly half of the searches to all of these sites were private. That leaves the reason that some of the queries are being made a small number of times—often called long-tail keywords. Google may have understated that just a bit. At any rate, 46.08% missing is way higher than I expected.

We know that 15% of all Google searches have never been seen before. I’m sure Google stores these queries. Otherwise, it won’t be able to come up with that statistic. 

However, I’d speculate that the team behind GSC has limited resources, and it doesn’t bother to store or expose all of the data. It’s just the extent of the data that’s missing is surprising to me and may come as a shock to you.

Final thoughts

You can figure out the kinds of terms that drive traffic to a page by using the Performance report in GSC or by checking the Organic keywords report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. The hidden data in GSC likely includes terms that are similar to the terms listed here.

For example, Google is missing data on 35% of the clicks for our post on keyword research. In the U.S., there are 327 terms listed in GSC and 426 in Ahrefs. 

2-organic-keywords-report Almost Half of GSC Clicks Go to Hidden Terms - A Study by Ahrefs
Screenshot from Ahrefs’ Organic keywords report.

In all, 178 of these are duplicated in the datasets, but that leaves a number of unique terms in each dataset. While we can’t say for sure what the missing terms are, they’re likely similar to the terms included in these reports.

Message me on Twitter if you have any questions.


Find Out More

Marketing Tips You Need

Keep In Touch

Quick Subscribe

Client Reviews Tell The Tale.

Nicole NoblesApril 18, 2024
Dan was a delight to work with. I needed a few headshots taken for my LinkedIn profile and Dan provided the easiest and most comfortable experience using state-of-the art equipment in a very professional setting. Also, the turn-around time on results was quick and I felt completely engaged and satisfied during the entire process. I highly recommend his services.Donny RitcharoenDecember 19, 2023
I got headshots taken and they turned out so well! The lighting was amazing.Tessa ChanMay 30, 2023
We used Appture to build a lodging website, and they were awesome! Dan went above and beyond to show us the functions and make all of our changes. Appture is our go to for web design from now on!Abigail HaleOctober 26, 2022
Appture knows their business and will go the extra mile for their customers. They do high quality work and provide great ongoing support.Chris McCorkindaleMay 24, 2022
Anita CauthornMay 24, 2022
It’s so rare in these times to find one man with so much wow factor and more rare to find men with similar interest and passion in their life journey as myself . Dan Elliott has been introduced to many in what is now considered as the Terror Dome , a place where many dreams are not deferred they are detoured to routes that lead to dead ends , he comes in full of optimism so infectious that he, maybe with out knowing is energizing those who have ventured where others would fear going with just the right jolt to forge on in the way of helping fallen humanity … His various fields of expertise has helped many in my region and I can only imagine the number he has effected beyond those I know … from day one I knew “ this was a man of kindred spirit “ Dan Elliott is a Gem and adds glimmer to things he touches … I’m a Witness ….and eternally grateful….L.Rashaan RichMay 21, 2022
Dan and his group are highly capable and knowledgeable. They work fast and get the job done. I highly recommend Appture.Justin FrankMarch 26, 2022
They are highly specialized in their work and constantly seek innovation.Ismail YenigulMarch 14, 2022
Dan is a marketing wizard. Honest, Experienced and a read deal. I am blessed to have him in my journey online :) Highly recommended.Sabbir HasanMarch 7, 2022
So much to say. Creative, Intelligent, Talented, Limitless, Affordable. It's amazing what these guys can do.Hack mackMay 17, 2019
We'd used some other agencies before, but man, they simply knocked us all over. After being in business for 30 years, I wonder how much more business we'd be doing if we'd hired them earlier.Rebecca HoneaMay 17, 2019