I have long found that the views metric inside Google My Business Insights (“Where customers view your business on Google”) is one of the most misunderstood metrics in the local search industry. It also seems to be the one that I see quoted and referenced the most on the Local Search Forum and at local search conferences.
I’m hoping to shed some light on the way views are calculated and why marketers should ignore them.
- Views are the most volatile and inaccurate metric inside Google My Business Insights. We constantly see reports of people noticing huge spikes or declines in their views. In this thread from November 2019, a user reported massive increases in views:
Whereas in this thread users are reporting massive declines:
Due to the frequency at which we see this happens, views are not a good metric to rely on for any type of reporting.
- Views are not a representation whatsoever of how many users interacted with your listing, searched for it, or even saw it in the search results. I’ll explain. By browsing on Google Maps, I just triggered a view for every business that has a map label. I had absolutely no interest in S & J Plumbing but I just contributed to their views inside Google My Business (GMB) Insights.
Similarly, when I search for my favorite sushi restaurant, I just gave their competitors listed at the bottom of the Knowledge Panel a view. I can safely say that I didn’t pay any attention to any of them or notice them with the exception of writing this article.
- Google My Business Insights include data from Google Ads. The views metric is often one I see used as a way to help illustrate the impact of SEO work but that can be misleading if the business is running Google Ads with Location Extensions enabled.
If you’re looking for a better metric to use, these are the 3 that I would actually pay attention to:
- Queries – Because they are reported by unique users, they can actually give you useful data around what phrases users are typing into Google to find your listings.
- Actions – although the number of phone calls listed here is only about 40-60% of the real phone calls the business would have got from their Google My Business listing, the trendline is still accurate and useful to track.
- Discovery Searches – This is what most people should be looking at instead of views since it’s a representation of searches that were done on Google that triggered the business listing in the search results. We like tracking these in Map Labs so we can see trends over time as shown below.
Do you have any questions about the views metric that I didn’t address? Feel free to leave it in the comments section.