As a marketing professional or business owner, you’re probably already aware that Google My Business (GMB) is an increasingly important part of local SEO, and that its influence has only increased over the years.
According to a study carried out by Whitespark, Google My Business is the number 1 ranking factor for the local pack in Google search results.
Research that we conducted in 2020 found that 82% of the local marketing experts say that GMB optimization is a “very effective” tactic in improving local pack rankings.
As well as being aware of what a critical tool Google My Business is, you’re probably also aware that Google doesn’t give away any competitor insights.
For example, let’s imagine that you’ve just started work on local SEO for a law firm in Ohio. You want to know why a competitor is ranking ahead in Google search and what you need to prioritize to overtake them. You head over to Google and conduct a search but this is all you see:
Without an intelligent tool, it’s nearly impossible to understand what you can do to beat the competition and get into the coveted local pack. This is why we built our Google My Business Audit tool. It does all the auditing and analysis that’s normally not available to you and compiles it into one, easy-to-read report.
In this post, I’ll be revealing how you can master BrightLocal, and use Google My Business Audit to help you to:
- choose the right GMB Categories to increase search visibility,
- highlight weak spots that might be hurting your rankings,
- and identify actions you can take to outrank the competition.
Let’s get started!
1. Ensure the accuracy and health of your Google My Business listing
On the Summary page of a Google My Business Audit report, you’ll find a series of tabs that tells you how accurate your listing is and what needs updating.
The first tab is called Reviews. It shows the total number of reviews on your business’s Google My Business listing and the average star rating. There’s also a table below that shows you the five most recent reviews.
Having great customer reviews is obviously very beneficial for a business and they play a key part in GMB, too. Your average star rating is shown in the local pack and many SEO experts believe that review signals are one of the most influential local ranking factors.
So this tab is great for highlighting if your business needs more Google reviews or your average star rating is low. Our Reputation Manager tool is great for helping you to get more Google reviews as well as to manage and respond to them quickly.
The Duplicates tab flags up any duplicate GMB listings that have been detected for your business. Duplicate listings confuse customers and split your rankings, so if you find any in your own report you’ll want to remove them as soon as possible. For instructions on how to do this, visit Google My Business Help.
The next tab along is called NAP Comparison. This shows you if there are any inconsistencies with the information included in your GMB listing compared to those used to set up the report.
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Making sure NAP data is accurate and consistent is an important part of Local SEO due to the role it plays in both search engine visibility and consumer trust. It can either give you a leg up in rankings or stunt your local pack and voice search visibility. It can also either make it easy for people to find you or frustrate them and eat into brand trust.
If the information in the Google Listing row of the table isn’t accurate, it’s a good idea to update it because this is what customers will see. You’ll need to go to your GMB listing to make any changes.
The last tab in this section is Other Ranking Factors. This table looks at what research considers to be the other most important local ranking identifiers on a GMB listing.
For example, the business below doesn’t have two of the three identifiers set up. So this is something they need to address if they want to improve their rankings.
2. Understand how well your Google My Business listing is performing
As well as helping you to understand the health and accuracy of your GMB listing, Google My Business Audit is also great at telling you how well your listing is performing.
By clicking the ‘Add Insights’ button in a Google My Business Audit report, you can connect to your GMB listing and have a wealth of performance data from Google My Business Insights appear.
The information that appears is the same as you would find in your Google My Business Insights but with one key difference: Google My Business Insights only offers you six months’ worth of data, and for most businesses that’s just not enough. You want to see how you’ve performed over time to know if you’ve improved any metrics and also to spot any year-on-year trends.
With Google My Business Audit you can see 18 months of data and start to answer some of those questions that you can’t just using Google My Business Insights.
Let’s run through what data is available to you and what you can do with it.
How customers search for your business
The first piece of information that you’ll see is how customers search for your business.
A Direct Search is when someone heads to Google and types in either the business name or address. You can draw a clear conclusion from this figure – these are people who already know about your business.
A Discovery Search, on the other hand, is when someone has typed in something generic such as ‘lawyer near me’ and the business listing has appeared in the local search results.
Having a higher Discovery search number means that your business is visible to new customers rather than relying solely on who already knows about you.
If the percentage of Discovery searches is low, it could mean that the optimization of your Google listing is not as strong as it could be and you need to improve visibility by:
- completing all the fields that Google My Business offers,
- reviewing the on-page optimization of your site,
- trying out more relevant business categories or secondary categories
- and trying to get some extra reviews on Google.
Where customers view your business on Google
Here you can see how many customers have found your business via Google Search, and compare it to Google Maps.
While this data may not seem helpful at first glance, in reality, it can clue you in on where to maximize your efforts.
For example, if you saw an increase in Google Maps visits over time, this could be a good opportunity to review how your site is displayed on that platform and make it even better. So definitely one to keep an eye on.
The ‘Customer Actions’ data shows you what type of action a user commonly takes on your GMB listing, including visiting your website, requesting directions, and calling.
To see how many people took a particular action on a particular day, you can place the cursor over the appropriate segment of the graph on the day that you’re interested in.
By selecting the boxes to the right of the graph you can turn off segments to isolate particular data points. You can then use this information to inform additional ways to improve your GMB listing.
For instance, in this example, the high number of direction requests shows that there is an intent to visit the business. So they should be making sure parking details are clearly labeled in their GMB listing description and on their website.
This business could also edit the contact page on their website with directions, parking, and public transport access to help those planning a visit. Finally, they could upload images of their location to their GMB listing showing the approach from different directions.
In the next section, you can see how many people have clicked to call you via your GMB listing.
At the top of the section, ‘Total calls’ gives the total number of phone calls in the time frame that you select.
In the graph, you can choose to view trends in customer phone calls by either ‘Day of the week’ or ‘Time of day’.
You can use this data to see which day of the week and time of the day generates the most calls and make a note that staff need to be available and ready to answer the phones at these points.
As I mentioned earlier, because Google My Business Audit tracks this data over 18 months it can also come in handy for reporting. Let’s say a business specializes in taxes, they could compare the number of calls during peak tax season between February and April to show the company’s year-on-year growth.
3. Compare how well your Google My Business listing is performing for specific keywords vs your competitors
Knowing which of your competitors is ranking for individual keywords is essential if you want to try and outrank them. But when you look at the results of a Google search for that keyword, you receive very little information.
This is not the case with Google My Business Audit. In a report, each keyword that you entered when you set it up is given its own tab. In each keyword tab, there’s a table of the top ten competitors for that keyword. This is pulled from Google’s SERPs, but more importantly, you can see a lot of information that Google isn’t showing you when you do a normal search.
Each column of the table gives you information about your business’s competitors based on common ranking factors in local search, such as the primary business category they’re using in their GMB listing and the number of links, photos, reviews, and citations they have.
These tables are going to give you some great, actionable insights. For example, this business is ranking in fifth position for the keyword ‘Divorce Lawyer’.
Working our way across the table we can see they have far fewer reviews than the four businesses ranking above them. So if they want to close the gap on the competition here, they need to generate some more reviews. We’ve got a tool called Reputation Manager that can help you do that.
Based on this information, they might also want to consider changing their primary business category to Divorce Lawyer, too, as that’s what most of the top competitors are using.
4. Report success to clients and stakeholders
If you wanted to share this report with a colleague so they could be made aware of the issues, or present it to a client to help them understand the actions you’re going to take to improve their rankings, you can download and share a white-labeled version of the report to include in performance meetings and other business settings.
Here’s how to set up a white-label profile in BrightLocal that you can add to reports, including Google My Business Audit.
First, click the avatar icon at the top right-hand side to open the dropdown menu, then select ‘White-label Profiles’.
In the next screen, click ‘Add White-label Profile’.
Give your white-label profile a name, upload a logo, and add any header or footer text, such as your business’s contact details.
There’s an option to make this your ‘Primary’ white-label profile, which is really useful if you’re going to be creating several white-label profiles but want this to be your default one.
Next, choose a color scheme to match your brand and then save it by clicking the ‘Add White-label Profile’ button.
Tip: Choose the option called Minimal if none of the other colorways match your brand.
To add your white-label profile to a Google My Business report, go to the report, click ‘Settings’ in the menu panel on the left, and then ‘White-label Settings’ in the dropdown.
In the next screen, click on ‘Select white-label profile for this location’ and choose the white-label profile you created from the dropdown.
Finally, scroll down and hit the ‘Update Settings’ button to save it.
So that’s it! Four ways that Google My Business Audit can help you optimize your GMB listing and outrank the competition.
We know that our customers have plenty of innovative ways to take advantage of this great tool. If you’d like to share your own tips and hints, head to the comments and tell us how you’re using Google My Business Audit, or email us if you’ve got a particularly compelling story to share.
Want to give Google My Business Audit a whirl? Grab a 14-day free trial and see what’s possible.