Local SEO Guide is Andrew Shotland's blog on local search optimization, small business marketing & search engine optimization strategy. We are also a Pleasanton SEO company offering full service Local SEO, SEO Audits & Strategy.
I am giving this presentation this morning at SMX East’s Local Search Advantage Workshop on how to get started with optimizing to show up in iOS9’s search results. The presentation touches on Spotlight Search, Siri, Mobile Safari, Apple Maps and the APIs Apple provides to publishers: CoreSpotlight, NUserActivity & Web Markup. Pay particular attention to how Yelp is spamming Spotlight…
With all the recent shakeups in SERPs/local SEO it’s becoming increasingly important to have visibility into the performance of all your search channels, including local search. I’m a big believer in tracking clicks from a Google My Business
page to a website and I’m constantly surprised that this is not something that all local SEO’s are doing. You can create a quick tracking URL using Google’s URL builder tool by following these steps:
1) Put the URL that is your GMB landing page URL in the Website URL field
2) Figure out a naming scheme
We usually use “gmb” for the campaign name and “local” for the source and “organic” for the medium (without the quotes). This allow us to more easily roll-up GMB traffic with all other organic traffic (which it essentially is).
3) Fill out the rest of the URL builder accordingly
4) Add your tracking URL to your GMB page(s)
When you are done filling out the campaign builder click “Generate URL” and you will be given a nifty tracking URL to use on your GMB page. It should look something like this:
Now you will be able to see traffic to your website from GMB showing up in your analytics package. If you use Google Analytics it will be in the campaign section, but you can also roll it up in reports and segments using local / organic as the source / medium. A couple of pro-tips before you run off and do this for all your GMB pages:
a) Make sure you canonicalize pages that are using tracking URLs
This will help prevent Google from indexing the tracking URL as separate from the core URL and will also show the pretty URL in a branded search e.g:
b) Set your URL parameters in GSC
Here we call this double bagging. Google takes canonical directives as suggestions and if you are doing this for thousands of pages it could theoretically pose a duplicate content problem. We don’t want this to happen to you so make sure you tell GOOG that these parameters are just tracking.
I spent some time over the past couple of weeks playing around with the iOS 9 beta and dug into Apple Maps and local search on Spotlight. I put up some initial thoughts on some of the Apple Maps for iOS 9 Screenshots on AppleMapsMarketing.com for your perusal.
It seems pretty intuitive to say as your rankings increase, so too should your site’s impressions in SERPs. While this may not always be the case, it is generally true. However, often times in GSC I will see something like this:
If GSC data is to be believed, there is often a direct negative correlation between rankings and impressions. Huh?
Non-sensical Keyword Level Data
This keyword level report in GSC is a doozy:
Man, this data is all kinds of jacked up. A long tail phrase like “local residential moving company” that they rank 37.7th for is driving more impressions then “moving company” a head term that they rank 7.9th for? I mean, I guess that could be true right? Wrong:
I’m going to just come out and say it; head terms have higher search volume then long tail ones. Here at Local SEO Guide we thrive on controversy.
A quick caveat, it is totally possible that this company is ranking on the 4th page of Google “nationally” for the phrase local residential moving company and that is what is being counted as impressions. While that goes against the Keyword Planner data, I love indulging in thought experiments. If this were the case, then to me this is another reason why this report is unhelpful. For local businesses, national rankings for terms are unlikely to positively impact their revenue. In this instance the business is a single location moving company based in Detroit. If someone searches local residential moving in Los Angeles and wants to move within the city that is not a lead they can convert. So in a significant amount of cases all this does is pad the impressions and create un-actionable data. Also, in a world of increasing localization of search how are we supposed to be able to differentiate “local” & “national” if Google doesn’t do it for us?
Disparities between GA and GSC
Now, it’s not saying anything new that there are disparities between Google Search Console and Google Analytics, they just measure different things. However, it’s possible to isolate something and show just how bad that disparity is. For our clients, we use UTM campaign tracking parameters to track GMB traffic. So lets look at the data for the page with UTM parameters in GSC and compare it against the campaign tracking in GA:
According to GSC we are really awful at the local SEO thing.
Phew. Keep in mind in the GSC screenshot we are viewing the clicks to that page from a SERP, which should correlate pretty closely with sessions in GA. Now, I know there are other ways to get to a website through A GMB page other then clicking on the website button for a business in the local pack but this disparity is massive.
On a semi-related side note, if you use campaign tracking on a GMB URL then please, for the love of god, canonicalize the GMB landing page and set your URL parameters in GSC.
Ever since Google took away keyword data from analytics packages people have been clamoring for better keyword and search data. When Google rolled out the Search Analytics report people in the SEO and digital marketing spaces ate it up, almost religiously. We have been so starved for 1st party Google data for so long everyone seemed willing to take whatever bone Google threw them and treat it as truth because we wanted to believe it was. After playing around with this report for several months I am regularly unable to reconcile it with analytics & ranking data and I have to wonder, how many people are making strategic decisions based on this misleading data and what is the benefit to Google of revamping this report?