Google My Business Insights
One of the best places to start reporting on local website data is using the Insights section of Google My Business (GMB). This is a free tool, offered by Google that allows businesses to set up and claim the business listings that appear in Google’s search results. Customizing your business listing is an important first step, but once your profile is completely filled out, you can use GMB to monitor how users are interacting with the listing. When you’re in the Home section of your listing, click Insights from the right hand side bar to view your data.
The sections covered there include:
- How customers search for your business (Direct or Discovery)
- Where customers view your business on Google (Search Listing or Map)
- Customer Actions (Visit your website, Request directions, Calls)
- Phone calls
- Popular times
- Photo views
- Photo quantity
In each section listed here are useful points that can help highlight areas for opportunity. For example, the number of photo views may suggest a need to add more photos or change up images based on user interest. It’s also valuable to monitor, particularly over time, how customers search for your business in terms of brand terms or by searching for a product, category or service. It’s important that visitors find you through both avenues. It’s also important to make sure that both are growing over time as you execute SEO strategies and brand awareness initiatives.
Because, like Search Console, this tool does not maintain historical data, you should make a practice of downloading these reports every month. In order to download your Insights report, navigate to the Manage screen, select Locations and then click the “Download Insights” button on the top right.
Digital data reporting for local businesses is going to involve many of the same standard metrics that matter to any website such as users, channel distribution and engagement. But for a site with a local focus, not all customer behaviors are equally important. For example, a NYC based pest control company, with a lot of educationally focused content, is likely going to draw traffic from around the world. But many of those visitors will come and go without making contact or really reading about the services. What the business really needs to know is how well they are attracting and engaging users in their service area. To gather intelligence on this particular section of their audience, a geographically relevant segment can help create focus.
To do this click on “Add Segment” and then select “New Segment.” The first screen will be for Demographics. At the bottom of this screen will be an option for “Location.” Here, you can choose a location including continent, sub-continent, country, region (use this for U.S. states) or city.
In the U.S., Google also offers a dimension known as “Metro.” These are the same Designated Marketing Areas (DMAs) used by Nielson. This is a slightly more inclusive area comprised of data for users in a DMA, which may include multiple cities. To use this category, when you select “New Segment,” choose “Conditions” under the Advanced Section and then choose “Metro” as your filter.
Zeroing in on the acquisition and activities of the users who are directly in the business’s immediate area can help create sharper insight. This segment can be applied to view all of the GA data on the website users who are most likely to visit the physical location.
While it’s still worthwhile to evaluate user data from a high level, examining those same metrics as they apply to the immediate vicinity can help differentiate between the actions of website users who are welcome, but not necessarily imperative, and those who are the exact target audience.
Remember when the only people writing reviews were critics? If you were born after 1990, you may not. In today’s world, everyone is a critic and everyone with an Internet connection is free to review movies, TV shows, restaurants and of course, your business. Not only does this influence public perception of a brand, user reviews are an increasingly important aspect of local SEO. In a recent Moz survey of local SEO experts, respondents cited review signals among the top 8 factors for both localized organic ranking factors and local pack/finder ranking factors.
With reviews having an influence on both user interest and search engine rankings, it’s important to stay familiar with what those reviews look like. In Google My Business (GMB) there is a section about reviews that can be included in reporting along with GMB insights. In the home section, where you would find “Insights,” you can also select “Reviews.” Once there, you can see how recent users have rated your business or what they’ve said and leave a reply.
Incorporating information on recent reviews helps to inform strategic decisions. If there is a pattern of similar complaints, this can help highlight a common pain point and provide the impetus to investigate further. If there is a theme to what reviewers frequently mention, it may be possible to feature that product, service or even person more prominently. If negative reviews are not receiving replies, this may invigorate a discussion on how to properly answer those comments and internally address the issues behind them.
However, don’t limit yourself to only the reviews on Google. Assess other highly visible profiles like Facebook, Yelp or TripAdvisor to locate trends, both good and bad. This public commentary is an important part of local SEO, referral opportunities, reputation management and standard business practices, making it an important part of reporting.
When it comes to analytics for a local business all the numbers matter but there’s certain data that just hits closer to home. Beginning to incorporate GMB Insights, studying locally segmented traffic and aggregating reviews will provide a solid foundation to evaluate and improve your local presence online. But when local SEO is a part of your marketing plan these are only a few of the metrics worthy of reporting. A digital marketer will also want to review and report on factors like local pack rankings, referrals from locally based websites and new inbound links. A smaller service area doesn’t always mean there is less to analyze. Even in our own neighborhood niches there is an abundance of data to explore.