When it comes to tracking digital marketing campaigns, I’m a huge fan of Google Analytics. It’s free, easy to install, and fairly easy to use once you get familiar with all the reports. But Google Analytics is not enough to track local search engine optimization (SEO) performance.
Have you ever tried to track local SEO performance? It’s no easy task. That’s because with local SEO your prospects may not go directly to your website. Often, they may click on your Google My Business profile and then call you, for example. And since they don’t go straight to your website, Google Analytics simply does not give you the full picture.
It’s like setting up a surveillance camera on just one door when there are multiple entrances to your building. Actually it’s worse than that. It’s like setting up a surveillance camera on the one door very few people would ever use instead of the main entrance. That’s a much closer representation of how useful Google Analytics is for you when tracking local SEO.
So how do you track local SEO?
First Identify What Is Important
The first step is to identify what you actually care about. It’s important to think this through before you dive into the tools available because it’s easy to get lost looking at meaningless graphs and charts.
What is important for your business?
Is it phone calls? Or, is it visits to your brick and mortar store, office, or clinic? Or, maybe you really just want people to click through to your website. For many businesses you’ll want to track all 3. So let’s walk through each to see how you can track what is truly important.
1. Tracking Phone Calls
Right now, I’m talking about tracking phone calls directly from your Google My Business profile, not your website. So dynamic number insertion (DNI) is not going to work. Plus, we can’t use a tracking number because that will hurt local SEO rankings due to inconsistent NAP (name, address, phone number).
Uh oh… that doesn’t leave us many options.
Of course one option is to simply ask incoming callers where they found you. Not perfect, but it gives you something to work with. You can make this more accurate by promoting a unique offer on your Google My Business page so when prospects ask about that offer you know right away where they came from.
Another option is to use your Insights reports within the Google My Business admin area. Log in to your profile, click on View Insights and then scroll down to the Phone Calls section. That graph will display “calls” which according to Google are “the number of clicks on your business’s phone number from a local search result in Google Maps, Search, and Maps for Mobile, grouped by day of the week and time of day.”
Not even close to perfect, but if a lot of your prospects are searching on mobile phones then this should be pretty accurate.
2. Visits To Your Physical Location
Now we’re talking about tracking how many visitors came to your physical location (store, office, clinic, etc.) as a result of searching and finding your Google My Business business page.
One idea is to use the same tactic listed above to track calls. Promote a unique offer in your Google My Business page so when prospects ask for that offer in your physical location you know where they came from.
Another option is to use another Insights report within Google My Business. Instead of looking at Phone Calls, we’ll now look at Driving Directions Requests. In this report you’ll see how many people clicked for directions to your location.
Of course, clicking for directions doesn’t mean the person ended up visiting your location, but this is the data we have to work with. The most important thing to remember is to look at trends in this data. If requests for driving directions is increasing, then your local SEO efforts are having a positive affect.
3. Visits to Your Website
Finally, you may also want to see how many people view your Google My Business page and then end up clicking through to your website. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, then you’ll see this traffic in your referral reports with the referring website plus.google.com.
You can also see these clicks in the Insights reports within Google My Business. Go to the section labeled “Clicks” and click on the down arrow to see the breakdown of clicks to your website.
There’s one more report I haven’t mentioned and it’s actually one of the most important indicator for your local SEO performance.
Finally… Views of Your Business
Views of your Google My Business page probably sound like the least important metric when compared to everything listed above. Phone calls, visits to your store and visits to your website are much more valuable actions to track, but as I explained this data is not very accurate.
Views just so happen to be very accurate.
It’s pretty easy for Google to track how many times Google shows your Google My Business business page. That means tracking your views over time is an excellent measure of your local SEO performance. If you see views trending upward, then your local SEO is improving. If views are falling, then you need to change course and work on improving your local SEO.
Want More Local SEO Advice?
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Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 12pm Eastern time
When you attend, you’ll get all of our best tips and strategies to get your business ranking on the first page of Google’s local search results.
Main Street ROI is a digital marketing agency based in New York City.
Our mission is to help small businesses thrive. With our services and training, we help small businesses succeed with marketing regardless of their budgets.
Since 2010, we’ve helped thousands of small businesses create profitable digital marketing campaigns.
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