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3 Reasons Why You Should Ignore the Views Metric in Google My Business Insights

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3.  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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. I’m surprised to see Search Queries as your #1 useful metric in GMB reporting. I’ve found that “Search Queries” reported in GMB are totally worthless IMO, and embarrassing sometimes when I include them in a report. Typically, several of the “Top 10” are off the wall irrelevant. Further, comparing GMB Queries to those reported in Search Console there’s little correlation.

    1. Hey Jim,

      Thanks for sharing! (Joys on vacation). There are several reasons why GMB and GSC don’t match-up exactly. We have been thinking about this a lot lately 😉

      1. Hi Colan,
        Any plans on a study on this topic. Seriously, some of the Queries I see on client’s GMB Insights are not even close to what I’m seeing in GSC. It’s almost like Google is throwing random s**t out there.

        1. Hey Jim,

          It’s like you read my mind. This is going to be one of the things I’ll be looking at in my Mozcon presentation!

  2. The number of calls is the metric I trust the least. It just counts how many times the button was clicked but it doesn’t mean an actual call happened. I have had 17 calls reported for a certain period while I actually got 3.

    1. Hi Radina,

      This is one of the reasons we recommend that businesses use a call tracking number for their GMB listing.

  3. Great info, AGAIN Joy. Being able to see the phrases folks are actually using to find the page is definately helpful. But like other commenters here I do also see the (huge) flaws in GMB stats in general.

  4. Hello Joy!
    Thanks for the great article.
    However, something’s been intriguing me: any clue on why do they only give us numbers of about 40-60% of the real phone calls to each location? Does this miscalculation extends to the other metrics as driving directions?

    Regards from Brazil!

    1. Hi Victor,

      The main reason is because GMB Insights only captures click-to-calls from mobile devices. So the data is missing out on anyone that discovers the business via desktop and types in the phone number on their phone manually.

  5. Hi,

    I find it useful because looking only at searches is misleading. We’ve all seen those large search increases over the last 1.5 year: more Brand and Non-Brand searches since Summer 2018, and large increase in Non-Brand last Fall.

    At the same time, Search views remained flat and Map views increased significantly. At the end I’m happy to see more brand searches, probably the prioritization of local search results, but the increase in non-brand searches is mostly coming from Maps, and as Joy explained that non-brand traffic might not be relevant.


  6. I noticed those numbers going crazy in a short time also in the GMB dashboard. It seems like images added by customers are given even more credit that the businesses own photos too. I have come to the conclusion that the more “real” the photos appear they will be shown more often. You are right though, when more searches are being done for competing businesses your image views will increase also. Lets just hope they get a click every once in a while too!

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