Got a local business? The Google Local Business Center (LBC) has just launched a new free tool that lets you easily get helpful information that includes:
- Impressions: The number of times your business listing appeared as a result on a Google.com or Google Maps search in a given period.
- Actions: The number of times someone took action. For example, the number of times they clicked through to your website or requested driving directions to your business.
- Top Search Queries or Keywords: Which specific queries (keywords or phrases) led customers to your listing. For example, did they find your cafe by searching for "tea" or "coffee?"
- Zip codes where driving directions come from: Which Zip Codes customers are coming from when they request directions to your location.
I've often urged small business owners to take this simple (and free) step: Create or confirm (Google uses the word "claim") your local business profile and map listing via the Google LBC. Millions of people search Google Maps daily and a having a free listing there makes it easier for them to find you. Now there's even more reason to do it with Google dangling these new carrots to spur local business into action.
What Google doesn't say publicly is that they've already created rudimentary profile listings for millions of small and local businesses. But the vast majority of local business owners haven't bothered to verify, customize and update those listings. That's a giant hole in Google's giant Internet fishing net. The system works best when listings are accurate, up-to-date and as detailed as possible about your products, services, hours, location, etc. To get started, first find and claim your listing at Google LBC. Once you are registered, Google will now give you a special LBC Dashboard that lets you track what's happening.
So what does that really mean for your business? Here are a few things you could do with the information:
- Identify trends, such as days of the week when online search interest in your business seems to spike, or seasonality in the types of searches that lead potential customers to your listing.
- Determine how changes to your listings - such as adding a video or refining the category - influence traffic to that listing.
- Measure the impact of changes to content on your site or adjustments to your marketing campaigns, such as a new post to your blog, or a new advertising campaign.
So, for example, a restaurant could host an event and then watch to see if queries for its business name increase in the following days. Or it could measure the results of an advertising campaign targeted at a nearby town by watching to see if more people are searching for directions to the restaurant from that Zip Code after the ad runs. It could also experiment with the information in its Google listing to uncover which configurations produce more hits for certain keywords. With these kinds of information you can make informed decisions about the most effective ways to promote you business and attract new customers.
Says a Google spokesperson, "When you log into the LBC today, you'll find that we've already populated the dashboards for claimed listings with data from the last 30 days. After that, new information will be added daily, so you can check in often to see how things are going...
"We're really excited to open up this data to local business owners. Before now, they could track usage metrics on their website using a tool like Google Analytics, but data about how customers found them in other ways never got back to them. That all changes today, and we think business owners will really get a lot out of this new information."