Local SEO A-Z #5: Local SEO metrics that matter
Local SEO is becoming increasingly more competitive. Previously, Google displayed seven businesses in the “Local Pack” but this is now reduced to only three listings. This aimed to improve user experience, especially on mobile. However, it means that businesses with multiple local presences simply can’t afford to not implement a fine-tuned local SEO strategy if they want to rise to the top.
Today we are exploring the KPIs businesses should keep an eye on to track the impact of their local SEO efforts.
As we have learnt in the last blog you can target local SEO either through local specific landing pages or Google My Business. To monitor progress generated by your efforts here are the KPIs for both.
KPIs for local specific landing page strategy
- Impressions, average positions, CTR and clicks: Now that you have created these location landing pages, it is important that they are generating impressions on the search pages at promising average positions that will attract clicks at high click-through rates. The best tool to monitor this data is the Google Search Console’s search analytics data. What is clever about the search analytics data is that you can filter queries by landing pages. This way you would know exactly what queries is Google finding the pages relevant for. If you do not spot keywords that you desire to rank for or vice versa you see a lot of dross, then it is an opportunity for you to rewrite some of the content on these landing pages.
Like other pages on the website, the goal for local landing pages should be to increase the number of impressions of non-branded queries whilst simultaneously seeing a drop in average positions.
- Monitor user behaviour (page views, session duration, bounce rates) and conversions from the local landing pages: Once these landing pages have begun generating impressions due to improved average positions, you should see local web traffic coming to your site. The key objective from this point is to monitor how relevant your website is appearing to this local traffic and whether visitors are filling the enquiry forms or carrying out transactions at a better rate than other pages. It is also important to monitor whether people coming to your site through a local page tend to cover the website more widely (i.e. have higher page views) or do they tend to bounce less or more. Using the Google Analytics comparison tool is a great way to detect this.
Metrics for your Google My Business (GMB) strategy
Now to appear in rankings for local searches you can simply list your locations on Google My Business and gain valuable insights into the local search behaviour of your target audience. Here are some of the crucial metrics to monitor performance.
Google Analytics metrics within your Google My Business dashboard
This may come as a surprise to many but you can access some of your Google Analytics data for your website directly from your Google My Business dashboard. The top metrics that you can monitor on your website are new visits, page views and unique visitors. This should be able to give you insight into whether your local listings are effective enough to create traffic to your website which can later convert.
Specific KPIs that you can (and should) monitor from Google My Business dashboard
The Google My Business Insights tool has gone through significant upgrades over the years and now relays very valuable data and insights, which are not available on any other Google tool, into your target audience local search behaviour. Below are the KPIs that you should monitor actively.
How are people finding your business or services
In simple terms, this is your split of branded and non-branded traffic from the Google local knowledge pack. To help businesses GMB breaks down this information in an easy to digest graph.
As seen in the picture above, the search behaviour is classified as direct (branded) and discovery (non-branded). Ideally, you would want the share of your discovery to be bigger. If not, then it is an indication to optimise your local listing in the GMB dashboard through better category optimisation, better description etc. Also, perhaps to focus on off-page optimisation factors such as links and citations.
What is interesting is that GMB is now also giving insights on how to improve your clicks. As seen above, recent photos now play a role in generating more clicks. Perhaps this is the reason why Google has updated the photo management system to become simpler.
Which Google products are people using to find you or your services
When it comes to local searches, people can either search for your business or services in the regular search bar or directly in Google Maps. Your GMB dashboard can provide a breakdown of this search behaviour in an easy to use interactive graph.
A typical way of using this data would be to monitor the listing on search graph. If over time you are seeing the numbers decline, then it can indicate that your competition has over taken you when it comes to being listed in the Google local pack of the universal search page; and it’s time for you to invest more in local SEO.
Where are people typing for the driving directions
This report in the GMB insights shows the locations from where the people are requesting driving directions to your business. You can use this report to detect the most popular places from which people ask Google Maps for driving directions to your address, and using this you can create tailor made campaigns for these locations.
A typical local listing on the search page gives three options to a user. A user can either visit the website, get directions or call the business. The GMB graph showing proportions of such customer actions is useful in optimising some of your operations.
Such insight is great for offline activities, too. For example, if a larger proportion of people across all your locations tend to request directions, then perhaps you can focus on informing your customers on parking options available around the locations. Alternatively, if people are clicking more on the call you button and you have historically been struggling with your conversions, then perhaps it’s time to invest in training your call handling team or streamline some of your booking methods.
GMB also provides phone call and request for direction data by days in the week so you can make a note of the days you should allocate maximum resources. Helping with your own resource planning.
As stated above, businesses with recent photos tend to get clicked on more often. Therefore keeping an eye on photo based stats is crucial. The photo views graph shows the number of times your business photos have been viewed compared to your competitors which is a great insight to have to hand to help improve your photo management.
Lastly, GMB also provides information on the number of photos Google displays in the local knowledge panel compared to your competitors. This is a fairly good statement on your photo management. If you are scoring poorly against your competitor then perhaps its time to up your photo management game.
It is well known that search is ever more local now. Multiplied with the exponentially rising number of mobile searches it is easy to conclude that local SEO will remain a key area for businesses to focus on.
Keeping in mind this ever-changing paradigm in search, it is no longer possible to shoot in the dark. This is where keeping an eye on the above listed KPIs and using the information to tweak the local search strategies will go a long way in winning the local SEO race to the top 3 local results.
If you are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of data to analyse to ace in local SEO, then one of our local SEO experts are more than happy to talk with you.