Website Visits From Google’s Local Pack
If you’re a Local SEO consultant or a local business owner doing your own SEO, it’s important to understand whether your efforts are paying off. For a consultant, being able to demonstrate the number of website visits generated by appearances in Google’s local pack and maps can not only help you understand what things are working but can help you illustrate the value you’re adding, thereby improving client retention rates. Fortunately, these things can be measured in Google Analytics. If you don’t have Google Analytics installed or don’t even know what it is, then you probably need help. The screenshot below shows website links in the local pack and also the localised organic rankings, either of which could generate the click.
How to Create Campaign Tracking Code
The first step is to add campaign tracking code to the link to your website in your Google My Business dashboard. If you haven’t set up your Google My Business account for your business, then you probably need help because that’s a basic omission. Google provides a free tool called URL builder which helps you through the step-by-step process and avoid crucial typing mistakes when compiling your tracking code. Here’s a link to Google’s help page about setting up custom campaigns. Here’s what the URL builder tool looks like.
Add Campaign Tracking Code to Your Google My Business Listing
Once you have your campaign tracking code, visit your GMB (Google My Business) dashboard and copy and paste the URL you’ve created into the field for your website address. You can see our GMB dashboard and the URL below.
How the Website Links Appear in the Local Pack and Knowledge Panel
In the past, the long rather unattractive tracking URL you’ve created may have shown up in various places in Google’s web search results or on Google Maps results but in 2017 this link appears in Google’s local pack as “WEBSITE” and in Google’s Knowledge Panel as “Website”. The Knowledge Panel is what SEO’s call the large display about a local business that sometimes appears on the right hand side of the main search results.
How the Website Links Appear in the Browser Address Bar
Now, if you click on the links to the website which appear in Google’s local pack, Google maps or in the Knowledge Panel, you’ll see the URL including the campaign tracking code in your browser address bar, as shown below.
Where to See the Number of Local Website Visits
So, you’ve set up the tracking code in the GMB dashboard but where can you see the traffic? Assuming you have GA (Google Analytics) installed on your website, you can just log in to your GA dashboard and navigate to the menu options shown in the screenshots below where you’ll see the visit numbers for local visits (occurring after the set up of the campaign tracking code).
Google My Business Insights
This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning GMB Insights. GMB Insights are statistics presented in a friendly and graphical format right inside your GMB dashboard. There is a series of graphs. The one below shows various actions that a user might take when interacting with your GMB listing in the local pack, maps or Knowledge Panel. When your business listing appears in local results on a smartphone, the users sees three links – one to your website, one to directions on a map and one to ‘click-to-call’ your business directly from the search results. As such, these stats include only the visits and actions generated by your local business listing in Google. One great advantage of being able to track these website visits also in Google Analytics is that your local visits form part of, and can be viewed alongside, all your other website visit metrics.
Technical Issue: Duplicate Content and Canonical URLs
There is a potential issue that might be caused by the creation of the campaign tracking code. Strictly speaking search engines interpret the two page URLs below (both are addresses for our home page) as different pages but with exactly the same content on them.
This can result in duplicate content problems which is detrimental to your SEO. To be absolutely sure this doesn’t cause a problem, be sure to use canonical URLs in your website’s pages. In this example, you’d only need a canonical link element in your home page but it’s best practice to include them throughout your site.
Whenever I need to repeat the above process for new clients, I don’t use Google’s URL builder to create the URL from scratch. I just copy one of the URLs I’ve already used and edit the domain name portion and the last part, replacing the ‘gmb’ with, say, ‘gmb-location-1’, ‘gmb-location-2’ and so on for all the locations that exist for the business..
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