Google Impression Counts Differently For Sitelinks

Sep 21, 2011 • 9:09 am | comments (13) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google WebmasterI spotted a very interesting tidbit I did not know myself on how Google calculates organic search impressions within webmaster tools.

A Google Webmaster Help thread has a Googler explaining that a search result with sitelinks is considered one impression which has two individual listings from the same domain is considered two impressions.

For example, a search for this site returns a main result with a few sitelinks. But this is not considered several organic impressions, it is only considered one impression:

Google Webmaster Tools Impressions

But when you have two separate results, then Google will count them as two unique impressions:

Impressions in Google Webmaster Tools

Asaph from Google said:

You get one impression for each time a URL from your site shows up in the SERP with the caveat that sitelinks are not counted as separate impressions. For example for the query "panther" I get two wikipedia results, so wikipedia would see two impressions for that query.

In the example you gave about the NYT we would count only a single impression for the top level URL and no impressions for the sitelinks. If you clicked on either the top level page or one of the sitelinks, we would count that as one click for the top level page.

Did you know that?

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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Christian Oliveira

09/21/2011 02:38 pm

I was the one asking (so obviously I didn't know that :D) The reason I asked is because I've seen a huge drop on impressions for the company name query in their website just after the new google sitelinks appeared. Before the new sitelinks, the site was showing the homepage with several sitelinks and under that more organic internal results; when the new sitelinks appeared, the organic internal results dissappeared and google is now only showing the homepage with the sitelinks.Anyway, it's good to know this as if your site is showing more than one organic result for a query, you need to multiply the CTR of that query by the number of results  (i.e. 100 searches->40 clicks; CTR=40%- having two organic results means 200 impressions -> 40 clicks; CTR=20%; having three organic results means 300 impressions -> 40 clicks; CTR = 13,3%)


09/21/2011 04:11 pm

that's very interesting, I had noticed a lot of clients down on impressions - thanks for the heads up Google...! I also think the new yo-yo-arithm has gone into full effect in the  'search queries' tab, there is no real correlation to impressions, average position, clicks and real life!


09/21/2011 09:47 pm

I wonder how this plays into their CTR algo.

Veronica Morales

09/21/2011 11:59 pm

Is the same for the Adwords sitelinks, right?


09/22/2011 03:23 am

Does paid ads counted in impressions? Or only organic results were counted. 


09/22/2011 04:12 am

It would be good if Google Webmaster Tools provide the CTR for each site links so then we can see how effective of those site links. 

Dan Patterson

09/22/2011 10:17 pm

That's really good to know how they define the difference. Otherwise with the new sitelinks we'd all see a huge increase in impressions.


09/23/2011 03:19 am

Thanks for clearing that up. I always wondered how they counted those 'nested' results.

Zain ejaz

03/31/2012 09:33 pm

Great post and well defined points! But few things are still unsure, Barry what if 10 people do a web search. In response, they see links to a variety of web pages. Three of the 10 people choose one particular link. That link then has a 10 impressions? and less than 30% CTR?

Carrie Morgan

04/30/2014 04:51 pm

Makes sense to me!


04/30/2014 05:12 pm

Yes I did :) I too had to dig into the definition of things to find the same tidbit. It came up when impressions for a given keyword on Google Webmaster Tools was greater than monthly search estimate from Google Keyword Planner. Now everyone knows!

Barry Adams

05/02/2014 12:11 pm

Didn't *know* but suspected it. It would seem odd to me to count a listing with sitelinks as multiple impressions. Seven or more impressions for what is really just one enriched listing would strike me as odd.


07/18/2014 10:41 am

What if we follow both websites and on Webmaster tools ? (I know does not actually exist, but some websites have links to subdomains in the same ad, in the site links). Will the impression be counted for both websites ? What about clicks (my guess being that only one click is counted, and attibuted to the corresponding website depending if I clicked on the main link or on the site link) ? Help appreciated ;-)

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