Google My Business Insights Explained – A Quick Guide

Google My Business Insights Explained – A Quick Guide

Are you a data-driven marketer?

As a small business owner or marketer for a local business, harnessing data can be a daunting prospect. It’s not just a question of where to look to access the most useful data but how to interpret it and put the findings of your analysis into action.

Google My Business offers an easy place to start, with accessible analytics that give useful insights on your search presence. If you’ve carried out a Google My Business audit recently, you’ll likely have a plan of action which maps out the changes you need to make, additional activities you need to perform and, hopefully, aims and objectives to take your Google My Business presence forward.

Google routinely makes additions to Google My Business and occasionally makes new Google My Business Insights available, too. We’ll keep this resource updated as new Insights and data points roll out.

We’d also thoroughly recommend reading our comprehensive Google My Business Insights Study once you’re done with this piece, as it gives you a detailed look at how your business’ Insights performance is comparing with others in your industry.

Why do I need all this data?

According to an Econsultancy survey, many marketers feel ‘data-driven marketing which focuses on the individual’ is the most exciting opportunity of 2019. As a local business owner or someone responsible for local search marketing, you too can leverage this trend and make Google My Business Insights work for you and your customers.

If you feel like you don’t know where to start or how to effectively harness your data, a round table discussion that took place off the back of the survey discovered that many marketers feel the same. Many say that organizing data is increasingly difficult. They identified three ways to use data more effectively;

1. Keep data up to date – data must be current and stored in an appropriate format

2. Integrate – combining data across various channels such as search and social media is important as integrated data provides much more useful insight.

3. Improve – the point of data is not just to measure previous performance. Data in hand can be used to improve marketing effectiveness and drive future improvements.

With that in mind, let’s look at how you can use your Google My Business Insights data to help you work more effectively. If you’re ready to use Google My Business Insights to inform your own performance improvements, read on for our quick guide to this often-overlooked tool.

Google My Business Insights, Search Console, and Google Analytics

Google offers business owners and marketers several different data tools; Google My Business Insights, Search Console and Google Analytics. These three properties are individual tools in their own right. While some integrations exist and all provide useful information to help you build a full picture of your business online, they do differ.

What are Google My Business Insights?

Google says,

Many customers find businesses through Google Search and Maps. Google My Business Insights focuses on how customers find your listing on Search and Maps, and what they do after they find it.”

You can think of Google My Business Insights as your window on local search. It contains information relating to your local search performance such as the number of views your listing has received, how search users find you, and the types of interaction they have with your listing such as clicking through to your website, calling you or requesting directions.

What is Google Search Console?

Google’s official description of Search Console is that it offers a series of “…tools and reports to help you measure your site’s Search traffic and performance, fix issues and make your site shine in Google Search results.”

Search Console is more advanced than GMB Insights. Here, webmasters can submit a sitemap and individual URLs to the search engine to assist with crawling and Google visibility, and delve deeper into search analytics metrics such as impressions, clicks, and search queries.

Registering your business website for Search Console is important even if you do use Google My Business Insights, as Google uses this tool to alert webmasters when it identifies issues with a site. Through Search Console you can see the affected URLs and inform Google when you have fixed the problem.

If you’re struggling to differentiate between Google Search Console and GMB Insights, it may help to think of Search Console as your health check and maintenance tool. Use it to check on things like mobile usability and keep abreast of potential problems.

What is Google Analytics?

Part of the Google Marketing Platform, Google Analytics is the most advanced and comprehensive of the trio. It allows users to build a complete picture.

About the tool, Google says,

Analytics helps you understand how people use your sites and apps, so you can take action to improve their experience.”

It has sophisticated modeling capabilities, a variety of reporting options including behaviour, conversion and user-flow, and data visualization capabilities as well as intelligence and anomaly detection and expansive integration options (including with Search Console). Google Analytics is available in both small business and enterprise versions.


Getting started with Google My Business Insights

Now we’ve established how Google My Business Insights compare with other analytics tools, it’s time to dive into the data.

Accessing Insights is quick and easy. Simply sign in to your Google My Business profile as usual. The Home tab should load and to the right of the screen, you’ll see the ‘Performance’ box. This shows data from the last 28 days on Search and Maps.

You can also click on Insights from the left-hand side menu.

GMB Insights

The Insights data is split across a number of different features, each of which will help you to build a better understanding of your listing.

How customers search for your business

Knowing how users search for your business isn’t just a point of interest, it can also help you to make better marketing decisions. At the top of the Performance box, you’ll see three sets of numbers Views, Searches, and Activity.

When you click on Searches, a panel will drop down and show you data related to Direct and Discovery searches.

GMB Insights Direct and Discovery

A Direct Search is when someone heads to Google and types in either your business name or your business address. You can draw a clear conclusion from this figure – these are people who already know about your business and have inputted their search with the specific intention of finding your listing or finding information related to your business, such as consumer reviews. Regardless of intention, these are people aware of you.

By contrast, a Discovery Search occurs when search users have typed in something generic such as ‘plumber near me’ or ‘convenience store open now’ and your business listing has appeared in the local search results.

These search users may or may not already be familiar with your business but they haven’t set out to find you specifically. These searches are general in nature and typically relate to a specific need and the desire to find a product or service that fulfils that need.

If this figure is smaller than your Direct figure, it’s a sign that you need to revisit your approach to local SEO. Having a higher Discovery search number means that you’re visible to new customers rather than relying solely on people who already know about you for web traffic and sales.

Click on Insights in the left-hand menu to access this data in graph form.

GMB Insights how customers search for your business

Queries used to find your business

The queries used to find your business information is a very useful content optimization resource. This, as the name suggests, shows which keywords and search terms Google users are inputting to find your business.

GMB Insights queries used to find your business

This data, available from the Insights menu, lists the top search queries – you can use this to confirm you’re using the right keywords across your blogs, web page, and Google My Business Posts.

Here, Google Search Console and Google Analytics can also be called into action. Both of these tools will also give you search query data, meaning you can compare how your GMB performance compares to the wider online presence of your website.

Where customers view your business on Google

This section of Google My Business insights shows you where your impressions on Google have their origin, in standard Google Search or from within Google Maps (desktop site or app).

You’ll see two numbers here, Listing on Search and Listing on Maps, with options to view for the week, month, or quarter.

GMB Insights where customers view your business on Google

While this may not seem helpful at first glance, in reality it can clue you in on how well your mobile optimization is going, particularly if you’re working with a high-footfall business that should expect lots of Maps traffic, such as a restaurant or hotel.

According to a 2018 study by The Manifest, Google Maps is 6 x more popular than other navigation apps, with 67% of smartphone users opting for Google Maps over competitors.

A higher percentage of Google Maps views in GMB Insights would suggest that more search users are seeing your business listing on a mobile device. You could easily cross-reference this with referral data in Google Analytics to confirm this.

Customer actions

GMB Insights Customer Actions

If you’re unsure where you should be focusing your GMB efforts, the Customer actions data should help you determine what to do next. This part of Google My Business Insights shows you what type of action a search user commonly takes on your listing. This includes things like visiting your website, requesting directions, and calling you.

You can use this insight to inform additional work on your GMB profile. A slew of direction requests shows that there is an intent to visit your location. This could lead you to create a Post sharing nearby parking facilities or bus stops. You may also want to edit the contact page on your website with directions, parking, and public transport access to help those planning a visit. On GMB, you could also upload additional images of your location showing the approach from different directions.

Depending on the action, additional information may also be available. If search users have requested directions, for example, you’ll see a map showing where those direction requests came from.

Directions requests

When direction requests have been performed, you’ll see a directions heatmap which outlines the location of those search users.

This heatmap is a great resource for local businesses, as it gives a very good indication of where your potential customers are traveling from. This can help you better understand in which neighborhoods to focus your marketing efforts.

Use the zip code and location data presented in the directions heatmap to finely hone your advertising and marketing targeting. You could, for example, use the zip codes to focus your Google Ads targeting, or use this data to geo-target social media campaigns.

GMB Insights Map Requests

Phone calls

If a search user has clicked on your Google My Business listing to call your business, you’ll be able to monitor that data from this section of the Insights tab.

You can use this data to see which day of the week and time of the day generates the most calls from GMB – this information could again be used to fine tune ad performance or help you decide when to schedule a new Post.

Photo views

GMB Insights Photo views

Photos are crucial to GMB performance and can play a role in how much traffic filters through to your website from your Google My Business profile.

According to Google,

Businesses with photos receive 42% more requests for driving directions to their location from users on Google, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t have photos.”

This part of the Insights tab will help you see how your images stack up against your rivals. Not only can you see how many times your own photos have been viewed, you’ll also get a competitor benchmark, comparing your views to businesses similar to you.

If your images receive more views, you can confidently continue to post in the same vein. Fewer views mean you’ll need to rethink your approach to images and may need to do a little competitor research of your own to see where you may be going wrong.

Photo quantity

There is no doubt that strong images propel search users to take an action. Our own research from 2011 found that good images are important to 60% of local search users and can help them make a decision about your business. You can also use our Google My Business Insights Study to understand how your photo quantity compares to the average business in your industry.

The photo quantity Insight enables you to see how many images appear on your business listing compared to your competitors. If you have fewer images, take this as an indication that you need to upload more pictures. You can find our complete guide to looking good online with Google My Business photos here.

Google My Business Post Insights

When you write a blog post or update your social media, you’ll probably be in the habit of checking post views and likes.

In a similar vein, Google My Business Insights will give you some data relating to your Posts on GMB – just click on Posts in the navigation and you’ll be able to see how many new views your Posts have received in the week prior.

Google My Business Gold Product expert Ben Fisher advises that you don’t look at this stat in isolation, though, as it doesn’t always give you the full picture.

He says,

From what we can tell, a Post impression is registered when a Post is fully displayed on the screen on mobile or desktop. What I mean by this is it’s not registered when the Posts section is, say, displayed on the Knowledge Panel but when the user actually clicks on the Post itself or scrolls through previous Posts.”


Google My Business Insights provides you with plenty of useful data which is both easy to locate and easy to interpret.

It’s an especially user-friendly introduction to analytics and data-driven decision-making if you’re new to this side of things. There are some areas, however, where GMB Insights data isn’t as detailed or granular as you may need it to be.

If you’re serious about local SEO you’ll need to go deeper. Perform a full audit of Google My Business to begin this process and investigate additional tools such as Google Analytics.

Jamie Pitman
About the author
Jamie Pitman
Jamie heads up BrightLocal's content team, ensuring we produce insightful articles, research and resources that enable businesses and SEOs to get even better results in local search.

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