One misconception I really came across relates to using Google Search Console data to assess a firm’s local pack visibility. Put simply, some folks are misunderstanding local impression share based on Search Console data. Here’s how it happens.
First, the local SEO wisely implements URL parameter tracking on the firm’s location pages that are being used in Google My Business. Second, when analyzing performance data in the new Search Console, they’re filtering by the location page with the parameter. This allows them to isolate Search Console data specifically for the Google My Business office location page.
Where the location Google My Business page has an average position of less than two, a mistaken conclusion is drawn that this represents maximum impression share. Put simply, they mistakenly assume that since they’re averaging in around the top spot, this data must represent approximately how many searches there are for a given query. This is a huge mistake.
There are a variety of ways to demonstrate this mistake. The most obvious is simply to bid on the target queries and compare the impression data. Here’s another way: compare the Google My Business listing impression data with a non-Google My Business page that ranks for the same query.
In this example, we’ve filtered the data for a single keyword and are comparing the regular office page (which averages around position 24) with the Google My Business office page (which averages around position 1.7). Notice that for this single keyword, the location page has around 95,000 impressions, while the Google My Business page has only around 38,000.
What does this tell us? Most likely, Google isn’t showing the Google My Business listing for almost half of the time that they’re showing the regular location page for this query.
Needless to say, this example and method shouldn’t be used to get exact impression share numbers. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the most obvious is that even the non=Google My Business location page probably doesn’t appear 100% of the time. However, it does provide insight to how big of a gap there is between the impression share of the GMB page and the regular office location page for the same query.
Mistaking a GMB page’s average position of ~ 1 as an indicator that it’s maximizing impression share can lead you to mistakenly believe that there’s no more room for improvement for a particular query.
If your firm’s local SEO consultant is using Search Console data this way to persuade you that you’ve already reached maximum impression share for a particular query, feel free to send them this post. They’ll quickly realize the error of their ways.
This example also demonstrate how valuable it can be to implement URL tracking parameters in Google My Business listings. This is just one way that these parameters give much more granular insight into local pack rankings that wouldn’t otherwise be available. You can also use parameters to benchmark against Google My Business insights data.
Until your impression data from AdWords, Google My Business tracked URLs, and regular URLs are all substantially the same, there’s opportunity for improvement. And even when they do match, you still have to make sure that you’re around 100% impression share in AdWords. Needless to say, if you make this mistake, you’re leaving a lot of clicks, calls, and clients on the table.