“We’ve Seen a 300% Increase in Impressions, but No Increase in Clicks. Can It Be Bots?” Google Responds

Yes, since bots and scrapers aren’t real searchers, they can skew impressions, creating an illusion of real searchers.
SIA Team
October 25, 2021

Have you ever looked in your Google Search Console stats, and seen a noticeable increase in search impressions, but…not seen a correlating increase in visits?

What’s with that?

You’d think that if you saw a 300% increase in impressions, there would likely be a similar increase in visits. 

(That said, it’s not always a 1-to-1 correlation, but for this news item, we’ll keep it simple and just say that a noticeable increase in impressions should result in a comparable increase in visits.)

Well, if you’ve seen something like that, you’re not the only one. 

300% Increase in Impressions, No Clicks

During Google’s most recent Q&A-style session, Search Advocate John Mueller was asked about this. 

The video below has been queued to the ~18:45 mark, when this topic was raised:

A participant asked (and I’ve paraphrased and clarified):

“In Search Console, for a [given search query],  [we have seen that] every month on the 27th, there’s an increase in impressions by 300 percent. There are no clicks at these time periods. I wanted to ask whether bots can trigger such impressions and what we should do about it.”

Yes, It Can Be Bots

John’s response was:

“It can definitely be the case that bots or scrapers or things like that are triggering these impressions.

“We filter and block bots at different levels in the search results, and it can certainly happen that some of these go through into Search Console as well.

“So it’s almost like a weird situation that if you’re running these scrapers to see what your position or ranking would be on these pages then you’re kind of getting some metrics but you’re skewing the other metrics, so it’s something where, on the one hand, from our Terms of Service, you shouldn’t be scraping our search results, and of course others shouldn’t be either, so I kind of discourage that.

The Little That Can Be Done

“If you’re checking these things yourself, if this is not something that you’re running and you just see this appearing in Search Console, it’s fine to flag this with the feedback function, which it sounds like you already did, and it’s fine also to completely ignore it, because it’s something where, like I said, we filter at different positions in our search systems…”

“It does make it harder to track impressions, and you can’t filter them out in Search Console, so it’s kind of annoying, but it’s not something that you can manually tweak yourself.”

To me, the fact that the participant saw the impression increase on the 27th of every month was interesting. Perhaps it’s a bot that’s programmed to check the rankings of a certain search query monthly, on the 27th. 

Source: Google Search Central YouTube channel