Local marketing has reached a new level of importance based on the measurable results it can provide. The evolution of the Google My Business (GMB) API is part of this overall equation. Google has provided businesses more tools to manage and measure the success of their local marketing efforts — even more so with the recent API v.4 roll-out.
Many industry watchers and practitioners correctly perceived the API as a sign of how important it is for businesses to manage their location data properly. But the progression of the GMB API represents something even bigger: empowering businesses to elevate and measure the value of local search marketing. Google continues to enhance Google My Business with more functionality being released every quarter. Some GMB innovations in 2017 include:
- In January, Google released the GMB API 3.2 with Insights Reporting.
- In June, Google made Google Post available for all Google My Business users
- In October, Google announced API v.4 that supports several features such as the ability for small businesses (fewer than 10 locations) to use third-party platforms to post on Google through the API.
- Additionally, Google now lets you integrate a link to online scheduling within the knowledge graph. We have implemented online scheduling for a number of clients and track the clicks via Google Analytics UTM tracking.
Google has elevated local marketing to prime time because companies like ours can now deliver to clients far more insightful data about the type and volume of actions that users are taking as users interact with a brand.
The chart above shows you the data we can now track that contributes to the creation of customer leads. For brick-and-mortar businesses, actions like getting directions and phone calls are important. Not all of them have been trackable. But with GMB Insights reporting, they are now.
Phone calls and directions are also significant because they show how much activity takes place outside the client’s primary domain. People are using Google Maps as their starting point to call and get directions to a client’s location. And those actions are increasing substantially: 47-percent year-over-year growth in phone calls, and 59-percent year-over-year growth for “get directions” queries.
These previously untrackable metrics can now be integrated into reporting to draw broader and more useful insights. We have many more detailed reports for this client, but this data has become one of their standard KPIs, and it’s incremental to their previous reporting (a win for all parties — the brand and its partner).
The GMB API v4 enriches the level of reporting possible with more analytics reporting such as:
- The number of times the post was viewed on Google.
- The number of times the call-to-action button on a post was clicked.
As the Google GMB API continues to evolve, it’s clear that:
- Google has delivered incredible power to businesses and will continue to innovate.
- The more you play by Google’s rules, the more Google will reward you with measurable results.
It’s time for businesses to embrace the value of local marketing:
- Lay the groundwork by establishing location data management KPIs so that you know what to measure. Define the volume your call center is receiving on a monthly basis and determine what percentage of your call volume is coming from Google My Business.
- Manage location data like a precious asset. Google has given you the means to keep your data up to date and accurate. Exercise your power wisely. On a monthly basis (at a minimum), review the status of your physical locations against how they are listed on your location pages. Are they accurate and up to date? Make sure you are sharing your location data with all the publishers and aggregators that share your data wherever consumers engage with the local search ecosystem (Bing, Apple Maps, Facebook, Foursquare, Neustar, infoUSA, Factual, etc.).
- Implement Google analytics UTM tracking for all traffic coming from GMB so that you can measure GMB’s impact on your web site.
- Integrate GMB and local search KPIs into your digital marketing dashboard.
Google continues to provide tools that make local marketing more measurable and valuable. Are you maximizing the local marketing opportunity?
As CEO and founder of SIM Partners, Jon Schepke collaborates with his team to pioneer the future of digital marketing for national brands at a local level. The company’s Velocity technology is a SaaS-based local marketing automation platform that helps enterprise brands with multiple locations drive customer acquisition everywhere.