It is wise to establish how you are going to measure success before spending money on any marketing campaign. This applies whether it is TV, postal mailshot, email marketing, online advertising, social media marketing, or SEO. This series focuses on Local SEO so we will look at the metrics that could be measured.
Measure Success using Google My Business Insights
The metrics in Google My Business Insights include
- Number of Google Searches
- Number of Google Map Searches
- Direct v Discovery Searches
- Number of click-throughs to your website
- Number of Direction requests
- Number of Phone calls
- Number of Photo views
- Queries used to find your business
The Insights that are provided as part of Google My Business are not terribly accurate and should not be taken too literally. They are, however, reasonable at seeing trends and whether there has been an improvement over time. In the absence of anything better, they should be studied regularly such as once a month to measure success.
One issue with GMB Insights is that you only get up to 90 days of data in the dashboard. However, you can get more data via Google’s API. This means that some 3rd party tools can provide years of data which can be very useful for trends and comparisons. Some of these tools provide much more interesting insights but there are too many of them to deal with here. Please note that Google’s tools are generally free whereas 3rd party tools are usually charged for.
Brightlocal Monitoring Tools
My clients tend to be monitored using BrightLocal which has a series of reports that add value over time. One shows which businesses rank in positions 1-10 for 5 local keywords so you can see how you compare with your competitors. An advantage of these reports is that you can set the location of the searches. You can also see your competitors’ metrics and work out what you need to do to rank better.
Another 3rd party report from Local Falcon shows your rank for a specific keyword on a geographic grid. This enables you to see if a business only ranks well very close to its location, which it should. The further away from its location, a business ranks the stronger its ranking position is. This is very difficult to test and visualise without such a tool.
There are many other “Analytics” available such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and the analytics associated with each social media platform used. There are tools which can pull all of these different data sources together in one report which is perhaps the best solution. The most important thing is to actually look at the data on a regular basis even if only monthly.
Measure Success with Google Analytics
Google Analytics is perhaps the best-known free tool but it is also one of the least exploited. It will only work if you installed on a website and if it has been set up to monitor the right things. For instance, it is capable of measuring “Conversions” provided that goals have been set. I do not know the statistics but I would venture a guess that less than 10% of businesses that use Google Analytics actually set their goals within the system. That would mean that 90% of Google Analytics installations would not measure success.
Google Analytics only looks at “on page” activity (i.e. activity on a website). If a business is well set up for Local Search then most people won’t need to click through to the website to get what they want, such as a telephone number, hours of operation or driving directions. So a lot of the success of local SEO will never be picked up by Google Analytics, hence the need for other measures.
One thing that should be monitored in Google Analytics is “Bounce Rate” which is people leaving a website quickly for whatever reason. The reason needs to be investigated because it may be preventing the business from achieving its goals. Imagine having a high bounce rate and not knowing for days, weeks or months, which would be quite possible in the absence of regular monitoring.
Google Analytics also enables a high degree of segmentation based on things like how long people stayed on-site, which pages they visited etc. It is this aspect that is so rarely taken advantage of even though it is completely free to do so.
Take a hotel with a restaurant and a spa. It would make sense to have pages on its website dedicated to each part of its business. However, if the customer journeys are not being tracked by Google Analytics, there will be no information on them. The hotel will not know which visitors to its website were interested in which service it was offering. It will miss out on the opportunity to market to people who have indicated what they are interested in.
We are getting into territory that goes beyond the scope of local SEO, but the point is that it is important to measure. To summarise
- In order to measure success, goals have to be established in the first place.
- Measuring systems need to be in place to measure those goals.
- The reports need to be studied on a regular basis.
- Action needs to be taken based on the observations.
We work with your website designer to improve your ability to be found in Google and other search engines. Also, to look good wherever you may appear online. We specialise in local SEO and most of our work is off-site. But there may need to be some on-site work undertaken by your webmaster to complement what we do. If you would be interested in finding out more, please use the Contact Form on our website.