Google My Business has taken the country and world by storm.  My clients and other local businesses are taking advantage of GMB to get better exposure in Google.  Google is offering more and more functionality and interaction to GMB and is rewarding businesses that use it.  We have seen many clients increase calls from GMB placement alone.

The Challenge of Traffic Measurement

SEO Local Ranking DropThe problem that can come from this is that this GMB activity is intercepting traffic that may have gone to your website in the past. Much of this traffic never makes it to your website. If you think of Google’s perspective, they would rather have you stay on Google than to send you off to your website.  If you are still getting the business, what do you care? However, it is confusing for the business owners who may see traffic fall off but calls increase. They are still getting new customers and clients from search, but their traffic may be down. Some industries are impacted much more than others. If you are a business where you imagine someone searching and just calling you from your GMB listing as the primary way to hire you, you may see considerable traffic drop, while at the same time see calls and revenue increasing.

The bottom line is the bottom line so all of this is fine, but we do like to measure what is succeeding and I haven’t seen a great tool to translate this shift in traffic and activity. Hopefully Google will provide us with something that will connect GMB Insights to Google analytics in 2019.  Insights is the data in the back end of your GMB dashboard that shares clicks, exposure, calls, and direction requests for certain time periods. The trouble with it is it doesn’t provide any historic comparison. If your website traffic is flat in Janauary compared to last year but your calls are up considerably, it is hard to patch together where it is coming from, even when seeing all of the calls coming directly from your GMB page, because you don’t know what that number was last year.  If you are doing call tracking, that can help, but many businesses don’t, or don’t track in enough detail to know year over year differences in the source of the calls.

Warning of Traffic Drops

Google Analytics charts and dataThis post is mostly as a warning to business owners to try to capture as much data as possible in this “bridge era” where we can’t necessarily connect all of the dots. Don’t rely only on Analytics traffic for success. Your GMB placement is highly reliant on your SEO strength for your site and both sources should be considered when looking at overall progress. Sometimes my clients that are only looking from the very high level of total calls are actually better off than those that dig into the analytics at this time because some have blinders on to other sources of traffic like GMB. That time is over, especially for call focused businesses. With messaging from GMB growing, the form conversion on the site may be moving over to GMB as well. Make sure you have as wholistic of an approach as possible to your plan and to your measurement.  It is an interesting time and I’m sure many tools will come out in 2019 to bridge the gap.  We need Google to share this information though, to make it work.