Local SEO Reporting Ideas

Published September 7, 2017
Sometimes a website’s audience is global and we want to cast the widest net possible to attract visitors online. But sometimes what really matters in terms of data is a little closer to home. For example, a business based in Florida might find it cool that its website gets visitors from Bali, but it’s probably not going to result in an in-store customer or service call.
When a web user’s proximity to a physical location defines whether or not they can be a viable customer, local SEO is going to be a critical component of an overall marketing campaign. In this article we’ll provide a few ideas on how to report on your efforts as they pertain to a website’s local performance.


Local SEO Reporting


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.


Google My Business Insights


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.


Google My Business Download Insights


Audience Location

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.


Google My Business Geographic Segment


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.


Google My Business Advance Metro Regions


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.


Google My Business Reviews


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.


When the client first came to you, you talked up the value of Google Analytics. You emphasized the importance of seeing where your traffic was coming from. You went on and on about how Google Analytics can show traffic sources to pinpoint whether people came from search, social media or a specific site referral, and how valuable this data was. You sold them on it, so much so that your client looked forward to receiving that first report, the magical day when they would finally understand where visitors were coming from.
But then the report came, and it looked like this:



It showed that 10% of your client’s traffic came from “(direct)/(none)”. What does this label mean? How do you explain Direct traffic to your client? Better yet, how do you explain “none”?
Let’s take a closer look at understanding Direct traffic in Google Analytics and how we can address it with clients.
Digital marketers spend a lot of time focused on PPC and SEO campaigns in order to drive desirable traffic to a website. The phrases we’re ranking for and bidding on get meticulous attention, so much so that we often forget about some of the other ways that visitors find us.

We put a tremendous amount of the effort we put into reviewing organic search data and PPC campaign performance in analytics. But how closely do we monitor referral reports?

If that’s not a channel you review regularly, you may be missing out on seeing traffic that is coming directly from links you’ve obtained around the web, local business listings, news mentions, and more. Many times, links are only considered as a means to an end, a metric that Google uses in determining how to rank sites in the SERPs (search engine results pages). But the fact is, many of a site’s links may be directly contributing to its traffic.

In this article, we’ll review how to look at referral reports in Google Analytics, and some of the many ways to use that data to better inform your web marketing decisions.


Remember how your mom told you not to stand too close to the television because it might hurt your eyes?

The same rules can apply to data. If you’re too close, you may miss the patterns and trends that are crucial to understanding your website’s performance. You can’t judge a site’s performance looking at data in the bubble of a single day, you must consider any day’s traffic compared to the days before and after.

Google Analytics makes it fairly easy to analyze trends over long periods of time. But it also allows you to stand right in front of that TV, to look at more granular levels of time, right down to the hour.
There’s a better way to get that close to the data, without burning your retinas. We’ll cover how to analyze traffic effectively in today’s post.