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 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?
I just heard that Ted Levine passed away. Ted was probably the first true entrepreneur I ever worked with. While I am saddened to hear he’s gone, the news has brought up a lot of great memories.
Ted created Development Counsellors International, the world’s first economic development marketing company. I don’t rememberl the exact origin of the company but I do recall the spark was when Ted, who I believe was a PR guy for the government of Puerto Rico, realized that when it came to working with governments, it was better to be in the private sector. The story had some kind of Seinfeld-esque escapades that had something to do with mimeographs or at least he had a mimeograph so we’re talking MadMen time. Anyhow, what I remember most is that he saw the opportunity that no one else saw, and he went for it.
My first meeting with Ted – I was in my 20s – he sat me down at his desk which was overflowing with piles of Economic Development trade magazines, many with his business card paper-clipped to it for mailing to clients. He was giving me the big Vince Lombardi motivational talk which pretty much amounted to “We’ve got something really great going on here. If you can figure something great to do here that would be great.” Everything was usually pretty great with Ted.
I have a lot of great Ted stories – the time he convinced me to wear fake glasses to meet a client so I would look “more mature”, the time he absent-mindedly stuck a flair-tipped pen in his ear while talking to some clients and left a fashionable black ring, or the time he got up from a table to shake hands with the governor of Nevada not realizing he had a tomato-sauce-stained napkin hanging from his pants. Ted didn’t really seem concerned with other people’s opinion of him. There was something “authentic” about him that clients inherently trusted. I think he taught me that being yourself was the best business strategy of all.
As his son Andy says on his tribute to Ted on DCI’s site, “Ted was the most optimistic guy I ever met.” I agree. He once told me that when he first started out he did a lot of cold-call telesales and got hung up on a lot. But that never discouraged him. He had figured out that if he made enough calls he would eventually make a sale. After he had made a few sales, he did the math and figured out on average how many calls it would take to make a sale. He concluded that every time someone said “no” to him he would make $0.25. After that he came to love to hear prospects tell him “no”. Each time he knew he was one step closer to “yes”.
In my business career I have had a lot of bosses. I never thought I ever had a really great mentor, until just now. Thanks Ted!
Best wishes to Pat, Andy, the rest of the Levine family and all the DCIers out there.