How Google My Business Insights Can Bridge the Gap in Your Local SEO Data
Between Google’s local pack and knowledge panel results, today’s SERPs allow searchers to find exactly what they need before clicking through to your site, usurping core business KPIs. This off-site engagement, from click-to-calls to map views, is not captured by Search Console or Google Analytics—and that means you’re missing out on a huge number of online interactions. Without this data, you’re left to optimize in the dark.
That’s why it’s more imperative than ever for SEOs to track and attribute those interactions to their local search efforts.
Local KPIs have been available in some form or another but never easily accessed at scale until now.
18 months ago, we started collecting local KPI data for a client’s 2000+ Google My Business locations. We immediately realized about a third of our traffic from Google originated from the Map Pack (formerly unattributed) and core KPIs were occurring at a magnitude 4x larger than we were capturing within our own web properties. Not only had we been unable to optimize against this data to improve our local strategy, but we had also missed out on an opportunity to highlight the successes of that strategy for our client. By closing the data gap created by Google’s local SERP, we improved our client’s satisfaction with their digital presence overall and were able to leverage the data to more effectively optimize local listings.
When we discuss local KPIs, what are we talking about? We’re referring to engagement metrics that are taking place within the SERPs, GMB listings, and maps that until now have been featured exclusively in the Google My Business Dashboard and not available in reporting tools such as Search Console and Google Analytics.
- Click to calls
- Visits to your website
- Requests for directions
- Search Type (Discovery vs Direct)
- Map Pack and Google Maps impressions and engagement
These KPIs have been available in some form or another but never easily accessed at scale until now. It’s long been possible to access this data in the GMB dashboard for an individual location, and there are several third-party solutions for managing multiple-locations. But these solutions come with their own set of issues and inconveniences—primarily, the lack of integration with commonly used reporting tools such as Google Analytics.
Where’s My Data?
On January 10, 2017, Google introduced location insights for the Google My Business API. This is a potential game changer, and a great opportunity for anyone managing multiple locations. The benefits of having this data at your fingertips is obvious. As Google notes in their announcement, “location insights in the Google My Business API makes it easier for third-party application developers and large multi-location brands to programmatically access location insights such as total number of searches, views and actions that let business owners track and analyze where and how people are finding them on Google.”
Optimizing without data is pointless.
Those of us managing multi-location brands have appreciated the Google My Business API, which has allowed for bulk editing, posting, and updating of individual location pages from a convenient dashboard. However, we’ve long pined for access to local insights. Google describes the new API functionality as bringing “the features from our Google My Business dashboard into your own data analysis tools.” It’s a welcome update.
For those without developers on hand to acquire API integration, Google also provides a flat file download to manually pull your data. We recommend validating the wealth and depth of your data before fully investing into an API integration.
Getting Started with GMB Insights
To unearth this data, all you’ll need is GMB access and fully claimed and up-to-date portfolio of locations. If you don’t have location access, first make sure you meet the criteria and then follow their in-depth documentation to set it up.
Using The Data
Optimizing without data is pointless. Fortunately, this data is now easy to reclaim. The new GMB data export functionality allows you to compare the performance of hundreds, or even thousands, of locations side by side over time, which can unlock data-driven local optimizations that can be easily measured for success.
Some ideas to get started:
- Use search data (discovery vs direct) to organize locations by their need for better branding or better categorization of their products and services. This same data could be used to measure the success of any on-site content strategy to improve visibility or local product and service keywords
- Identify the best performing photos and descriptions and use those details as best practice for all locations
- See what reviews searchers are viewing and respond to negative reviews that are highly visible
- Develop a substantiated best practice GMB listing based on performance metrics and emulate that listing across all locations