Local business optimisation will enhance mobile search

Jimmy McCann

Head of Digital Strategy

Technical SEO

Google Local Business Center has just released a brand new reporting feature. The new interface gives you a Google Analytics style dashboard with some very meaningful statistics that can be used to improve the traffic and conversions you receive from your local business listing (LBL).

This is a massive step forward in local search and hopefully will ultimately lead to better quality local business results.

If you manually tagged your local business URL, it was already possible to see the traffic that came through local business listings to your site in Google Analytics. Up until recently they were the only stats you could see on this issue.

In the new release there have been 2 major developments. We can now see:

1) The number of impressions for which a the listing has shown

  • And the top search queries that the listing was shown on

2) An action someone has performed, which could be:

  • A click through to the website
  • A click through to the LBL on Google Maps

The new reporting dashboard is shown below.

local business center report

1) Impressions & Top Search Queries

Analysis of impression numbers and what keywords they came from is hugely important because it allows you to make changes to your listing and then review the results. This will allow us to enhance and test a local business listing (LBL) in the same way as you would a PPC ad.

It is important to optimise your business listing for not just impressions but relevant impressions. The top 10 search queries are also shown on the reporting dashboard.

local business optimisation

2) Actions

An action is either a click through to your site or a view of your listing on Google maps. Being able to see and work out click through rates is great for testing messages in your LBL.

N.B. Make sure your business listing is tagged so that clicks can be accounted for in Google Analytics. You can then establish click through rates by matching both analytics click data and Local Business Center impressions data.

The other point here is a major step forward. It is being able to see LBL views in Google maps.

This is where someone has seen your result and clicked through to view the listing in full but not clicked through to the site:

Local Business Listing

This is a very important metric for analysing how successful your LBL is. To some extent it will allow you to discover if changes in phone call or shop footfall numbers correlate with LBL views. Previously, this information was unobtainable.

Using these statistics we can now see what effect LBL optimisation changes make to impressions and click through rates on certain keywords.

Local Search for Mobile

I feel all these reporting changes and extra features are for the benefit of mobile search as it continues to gather pace in today’s search market.

Local results have the potential to be a big player in mobile search. I think that mobile search terms are, in general, for more urgent needs of a search user.

I doubt a retailer selling plasma TV’s would actually convert online from a mobile search on ‘Plasma TV’s’. However, a mobile search user may still use the term ‘plasma TV’s Leeds’ to find a shop close to them that sells plasma TV’s. They would then potentially visit the store in person.

Businesses like a Taxi firm, a florist and a car garage would all benefit from creating a LBL. This is because the need of the search user is more immediate and very specific. Terms such as ‘florist locality‘ or ‘taxi locality‘ are terms more likely to be used on a mobile device.

The problem at the moment is that the engines do not always return quality results for your search query.

Current Limitations of Local Search

I use this example:

I searched for ‘taxi horsforth’ using a smart phone. It produces the following results.

taxi horsforth

The results of the local business search are poor. A couple of the results relate to Airport taxi firms but one ‘Arrow’ is a genuine local private hire firm. Using a smart phone you can highlight the number in the results or in the actual LBL and call it immediately. This removes the hassle of trying to navigate a mobile browser unfriendly site.

Google has made these improvements to the Local Business Center to help search marketers analyse and improve the optimisation of their listing for relevant keywords.

In time, this should improve the listings served back to us in the local search results. Something was needed to be done to improve the poor results that have been a trademark of local business results for so long.