Sometime last week Google introduced a fascinating new feature into one of the Local Business Center accounts I manage for a client. I haven’t seen anything written about this among the Local blogger community, or on the Google blogs, so this appears to be a bit of a stealth feature that Google is testing quietly.
The following links showed up in this GLBC account (and notably not in any others I use) around the middle of last week:
Clicking on one of the “View Report” links leads to a detailed set of statistics. To keep the identify of my client private, I’ve sanitized the report and broken it into several pieces. The first, and possibly most interesting, piece is the Activity report, which shows “Impressions” and “Actions” for this particular listing graphed over time:
You can float over the data points in the chart and get a small information “bubble” displayed on the chart showing you the date and the data value for the point. You can adjust the time scale — either using the pre-defined past 7-day or past 30-day window, or using your own custom date range.
Google on-page help defines impressions as follows: “We add 1 to your total count of impressions each time your business listing is shown as a local search result on Google or Google Maps”. So impressions count both 1, 3, and 10-packs shown as part of Universal Search Results, as well as searches performed on maps.google.com.
- Clicks for More Info
- Clicks for Driving Directions
- Clicks through to the Web Site
Overall, Google is providing several major improvements to the very simple clicks and impressions data it has provided in the past: historical trending, and a breakout of the kind of clicks/actions taken by users. I’m particularly pleased with the historical trending, as this should allow one to carefully monitor the performance of listings over time based on optimization efforts, seasonality changes, market changes, etc.
We can also begin to understand actions taken from click-throughs at a much finer level of granularity. Clearly clicks through to the web site are very desirable, but we can also begin to understand our geographic market by looking at the volume and distribution of requests for driving directions.
Indeed, Google is providing a wealth of useful information in the bottom section of the report, labeled “Where driving directions requests come from”, but we’ll get back to that in a moment.
Visually, the next two sections of the report (again, I’ve broken this up for formatting and discussion, but all of these sections appear on a single integrated web page for each location in the GLBC), appearing just below the Activity and Totals section, contain information about keywords driving impressions and the driving directions section. These sections are shown below:
In language similar to the top queries report found in Google Webmaster Tools, Google defines “Top search queries” as: “The top Google search queries for which your business listing appeared, along with the number of times users saw your business listing in the search results for those queries.”. In the screen shot above, I’ve sanitized the search queries, but envision this as a list of 10 keyword phrases. Next to each phrase is the number of impressions that phrase drew in local queries (i.e., impressions, as defined above), along with a horizontal bar proportional to this value. This, of course, is quite valuable keyword intelligence.
Finally, below that, is yet more business intelligence in the section titled “Where driving directions requests come from”. Here, you can see what appear to be a count, aggregated by zip code, of the location of users requesting directions. In a nice bit of Google Maps eye candy, the city/zip phrase in the ranked list turns out to be a link that, when clicked on, causes the map to pan and display the region containing the zip code. Further, when you float your mouse over the map marker with the count number displayed for that zip code on the map, Google visually highlights the zip code. Altogether, this is a stunning little bit of wizardry that would actually seem pretty useful for visualizing your geographic market.
In addition to the statistical data, the report page includes a nice pane displaying most all of your data – much like the main data entry page in the “Add new listing” (or “Edit”) panel of the GLBC. I’ve omitted this pane as, with one exception, there’s nothing new here and since it has so much of my client’s identifiable data it was difficult to sanitize. However, there was one intriguing tidbit worth pointing out. Above the info pane on the right, the following indicator appeared on my listings:
Note the “86% complete” indicator. I’m a little unsure how this is being calculated. For this particular listing, the only GLBC data we haven’t provided is a “Mobile phone”, “Fax” and “TTY/TDD” phone number. We’ve included everything else, including photos, videos, hours of operation, categories, and “Additional Details” (i.e., custom attributes). I’m pretty curious whether Google is asserting that the lack of the 3 phone numbers above is what constitutes my “14% missing data”, or if there’s something else I’m missing (unrealized opportunities?!?!). Guess I can test this and report back.
Well, there’s lots more analysis and discussion of the various data elements of the report, but in the interest of getting this out, and getting a bit more insight into the mystery of “how widespread is the ‘preview’ of this feature?”, I’m going to go ahead and close out for today. I’d love to get peoples’ comments and questions, and if my client’s account is, indeed, a rarity at the moment, I’d be glad to provide more observations and feedback on what I’m seeing.