How to Interpret Google My Business (GMB) Insights - Sterling Sky Inc

How to Interpret Google My Business (GMB) Insights

Updated: July 8, 2019 to reflect Google My Business updating their help center article which clarifies the graphs are reporting on sessions and not unique visitors.  Also added a section on Search Queries.

Google My Business has just reformatted their Insights and a few things have changed. Here is what you need to know.

How Customers Search for your Business

This chart is only reporting on impressions (not clicks).

Impressions - GMB

  • Direct = People that are searching for your business by name or location.  I would say you can attribute these impressions to other forms of marketing since the person has already heard about you. A lot of these impressions are most likely existing customers as well.  These are searches that most likely returning a knowledge panel of your business. I got confirmation from Google that impressions will count in this section when the search results only list a single business listing (so this could be misleading in cases where you see a one-box for a non-branded query).
  • Discovery = People that are searching generic categories and see your listing (auto insurance, dentist near me, italian restaurant etc).  These are impressions you can most likely attribute to your SEO efforts.

 

Where Customers View your Business on Google


This graph is a bit confusing if you don’t understand that when both boxes are checked, the graph is cumulative (the top of the graph includes the total of both numbers).  So for those of you scratching your head wondering why the heck the graph is up near 60 for July 25th in this picture when you hover over it, it’s saying 17, you’re not alone. Here is how you actually see the numbers – the total searches on Maps was 41. The total searches on Search is 17. Therefore the total for the two is 58, which is what the graph is showing. Yes, very confusing. To avoid confusion just look at the graphs separately (only click one box – either Search or Maps).

Searches on the Local Finder are included in “Search” since they happen on Google.com and not Maps.Google.com.

Views in Google My Business Insights are like impressions.  They are not clicks on your listing.  They are also not reporting on unique visitors.  They are counted per view so if a user saw the listing on Search and then clicked to Maps, it would count as 2 views.

Why don’t the Total Views match the Total Searches in the pie graph under “How Customers Search for your Business”?

This is a common question I’ve been seeing a lot so I asked Google about it and their response was:  My thought here is that it’s total views (someone pulls up Maps, sees the local businesses along the side, even though they were searching for something else, scrolls through their local area and sees multiple listings, etc) versus actual searches where users are searching for your business name or the category and they pull up your business. This would explain the pretty large discrepancy as well

Customer Actions

Driving Directions

Nothing really new here. It shows where your driving directions came from if you have enough of them. And Google recently started showing details about the areas where your direction requests come from including a nice heat map.  If driving directions seem high, it’s probably because you are in a building and Google is counting driving directions that were actually to other businesses at the same address.

Phone Calls

Don’t be surprised if the numbers on this graph don’t match the numbers under “customer actions”. This graph shows 4 weeks whereas the actions section shows 30 days.

As Tim Capper illustrated, you can still copy and paste the values into a spreadsheet if it’s easier to interpret the data that way.

Chat To You

The GMB Messaging feature is the newest feature that generates insights data. You first need to setup the GMB Messaging feature before Google can collect these insights.

Photo Insights

As of recently Google is pulling in some useful insights related to photos.  My church (in a very small town) gets an average of 20-40 photo views a day. When I asked Google for an explanation for this, they said that “view photos” is counting both impressions (the photo appears in the 3-pack or knowledge panel) and if a user clicks to go to the photos. So these really are not clicks but rather impressions (and could be very misleading).

Photo Views

This section will compare the number of times your business photos have been viewed, compared to photos from other businesses.

Photo Quantity

This section compares the number of photos that appear on your business, compared to photos from other businesses. It breaks them out by “Customer Photos” and “Owner Photos”

Popular Times

Popular Times data gets pulled into the Insights section of GMB for businesses that have a decent amount of foot traffic. If you have “Popular Times” displaying in your knowledge panel then you will likely see the data in Insights as well.

Search Queries

This section focuses on the search terms people typed into Google to find your business.  The numbers under Search Queries might appear smaller than other metrics you see in Insights for the following reasons:

  1. Unlike all the other data inside Google My Business Insights, Search Queries are showing the number of unique users.
  2. It only includes queries that meet Google’s privacy threshold.

Does Insights Data Include Data From Google Ads?

Yes. If a business has an Google Ads account that has Location Extensions added, the users will be taken to to the Google My Business listing when they click on the extension.

When a user clicks on the ad in the 3–pack the person would get taken to the GMB listing (not the website).  Clicking on the listing would count as a search in Google My Business Insights. If the listing shows up as an ad and then also as a listing organically in the 3-pack, it would count as 2 searches (impressions) in GMB Insights.

There is currently no way to track Google Ads data separately from regular organic data in the GMB Insights section so my recommendation would be to add a call tracking number in the Google Ads Location Extension field in the Google My Business dashboard so you can accurately track the calls from ads.

Does Google My Business Insights Data Include Voice Searches?

If someone searches for a plumber near them on their Google Home or using the Google Assistant, is this counted in Google My Business Insights?  The current answer is no.  The data only includes visual searches.

53 replies on "How to Interpret Google My Business (GMB) Insights"

  1. I don’t understand why Google has such a hard time delivering a simple and useful dashboard for GMB. It could so easily be a crude simple version of Google Analytics but instead they seem make it more complex and difficult to get to meaningful information. I liked the Insight as they were a week ago in terms of stats. I have accepted that they will never give use search terms again, but I wish they would give us beck the clicks for directions, call and to website.

  2. The change gnomes are at it again. I hope they continue to support we G+ faithful. I still post on the top 3 but I consider the other 2 social and G+ tied to Google Search. Google hash-tags are the only ones I feel are viable.

  3. Can you please explain how the impressions of “How Customers Search for your Business” are different that the total views of “Where Customers View your Business on Google”? How are there more views (624) than impressions (324)? In this case it that implying that there were 324 keyword phrases searched, and most people flipped between search and maps? A similar concept to sessions and pageviews on a website?

    What about when there are more ‘Impressions” (direct/discovery) than total views? How is it possible that someone viewed a business that gets counted in direct/discovery metric, but not in search/maps. Why would it not also be in the data set for search/maps?

    thanks for breaking this down!

    1. Meghan,

      I asked Google about this and they replied back with: My thought here is that it’s total views (someone pulls up Maps, sees the local businesses along the side, even though they were searching for something else, scrolls through their local area and sees multiple listings, etc) versus actual searches where users are searching for your business name or the category and they pull up your business. This would explain the pretty large discrepancy as well.

      1. Hi Joy, I understand if views are higher, but what about the opposite. I have some clients that have much higher searches than views and I have clients with much higher views than searches. Do you know how this could happen and what the numbers really mean then? Any help appreciated

          1. This is addressed in the article under “Why don’t the Total Views match the Total Searches in the pie graph under “How Customers Search for your Business”?”

  4. Thanks for such a great info.
    What is the minimum duration of a call which google shows as a call in insight? Also what if someone just clicked on the call button and abort from dialer ? Does google count this action as a call?

    1. Google has no way to track the duration of the call or if the person even initiated a call. All they can track is if someone clicked on the “call” button. The numbers you see in GMB equate to the number of click-to-calls. It definitely isn’t a good reflection of the actual number of calls your business got from Google My Business. I did a test on this back in October for my Local SEO training and found that GMB Insights only track about 30-50% of the real number of calls a business gets (http://localu.org/blog/october17-experts-guide-updates/)

  5. Regarding GMB pages connected to AdWords: “Clicking on the listing would count as a search in Google My Business Insights. If the listing shows up as an ad and then also as a listing organically in the 3-pack, it would count as 2 searches (impressions) in GMB Insights. ”

    Do you know if GMB Insights will properly associate these impressions with Direct vs. Discovery?

    1. If the listing shows up twice (ad and organic), I’m pretty sure it would count as 2 impressions but I’m not 100% sure on that. They would be direct if the search was something branded that returned their knowledge graph and would be discovery if it was something that triggered a 3-pack.

  6. As always an outstanding post, I never moan about the GMB data, what’s the point? Just as long as we know how to explain it to our clients that’s all that counts…and that clients understand what the hell we are talking about ;O)

    Thank you Joy!

  7. Love reading you Joy. I noticed in AdWords today that you can segment you location extension to see “local actions” such as directions, website clicks, orders, menu views, and other engagements. Businesses could eventually take GMB Insights and deduct AdWords data if they want to measure real organic/local traffic.

  8. Can I change the date range for the google my business insights or is it only what they give me? I can’t see anywhere to change it.

    1. Carley,

      In the GMB dashboard you can only use the pre-selected date ranges. You can download a custom date range by using Bulk Insights or use a 3rd party tool to get that ability.

  9. Hi Joy,

    My GMB went crazy last month (june) and I can’t find an explanation. I’ll let ou know the average stats for 2018 (jan – may) and then I’ll show you the numbers for june:

    Average searches (jan – may): about 250
    Searches in June: over 3.000

    Average views (jan – may): around 900
    Views in June: over 4.000

    Average customer’s actions (jan – may): 18
    Customer’s actions in June: 49

    I have noticed that, on photo views chart, “companies like yours” had a lot more views and a bunch of new photos from clients. Could that be the explanation? If it is, how can those numbers, which refer to business like mine, boost my own results?

    Thank you so much in advance!

    1. Hey Catarina,

      It’s likely that your listing started showing for some new queries or the ranking increased. Google should be rolling out keywords to Insights soon so hopefully that will give you some ideas.

  10. Hi Joy,

    Do you happen to know of the way that Google collects the clicks and impressions for Google Posts? I would like to clarify for a client: (1) are impressions any time the Posts appear in the general search results, or is it when the user scrolls to see the Posts and (2) are clicks any time the user clicks on the Posts itself, or when the user clicks on the action button? Any insight you can provide would be very helpful.

    Thanks!

    1. Hey Heather,

      I heard back from Google. Here are the answers.

      A post impression is generally counted when the post appears on the screen. For example, in the posts tab on the listing, we don’t automatically count a view for all posts ever created because the post tab is opened. Rather, we count a view on that post when it scrolls into view.

      We report clicks on the action button.

  11. Hi,
    My insights queries are showing incorrect and damaging keyword phrases. This has really upset me. I’m a registered massage therapist. I have been in the listing for ten years and now my business is failing. My ranking in GMB listing dropped in the Summer and I started making weekly posts with short articles and it boosted my ranking back up again. Then a month ago I lost my ranking again and had my web designer make several updates to my website. My ranking did improve but my business had not improved. Please help. Thank you.

  12. When a local business search is made, and a GMB three pack snippet appears, would the businesses listed in that three pack have an impression listed in there Google Search Console? What would the rank value be? Could it be counted as position 1 for all three businesses? (if there are no other organic listings above it) could it be position 1,2 & 3 of organic search? Is it counted as an impression at all? Where in Google data and tools can we determine how well our efforts to get the client listed in the three pack are working?

    1. Hey Clay,

      The impressions are definitely counted in Search Console. The rank value would be the order you see it on the page so if they are first in the 3pack with no organic listings above them, that would count as 1. If it’s a Knowledge Panel (off to the right), it usually counts as 11. I suggest using UTM codes in Google My Business if you want to break up the traffic.

  13. Can the insights for the business change after few months for same interval of time, because my post view for last year campaign in higher than total searches now.

    1. Saleema,

      So views and searches are different. The article kind of digs into this quite a bit but they never match due to the nature in which they are calculated. Views are usually higher (much higher) than searches.

  14. What does ‘A customer found your business via Google Maps’ mean? Does it mean that a customer clicked on your listing in google maps or just the impressions? And if it’s just the impression then until which number is the impression counted because a total of 20 results appear? Are all 20 considered or top 3?

  15. Why does the ‘total views’ in the ‘Where customers view your business on Google’ section differ from ‘total searches’ in the ‘How customers search for your business’ section?

    1. Views can be something like a person simply loading Google Maps on their phone and seeing an icon on the map for the business (or not seeing it, it’s simply visible). They are like impressions on a display campaign.

  16. Hi,

    There is a graph of showing ‘Total Searches’ under ‘How customers search for your business’
    Where does these total searches come from ? Does a visitor searches on Google.com or on maps.google.com
    Thanks

    1. Hey John,

      It includes searches done on visual Google properties (so both Google search and Google Maps). It doesn’t include voice searches from the Google Assistant.

  17. Hey Joy, I’m not sure if this paragraph is correct:

    “Views in Google My Business Insights are like impressions. They are not clicks on your listing. They are also not unique, so one user looking through 50 of your photos would count as 50 views.”

    I spoke to Brad from GMB Twitter support and he told me this:

    “The Views graph shows the number of people who viewed the business on Search and Maps. This is calculated per user, so if a user saw the listing on Search and then clicked to Maps, it would be only one view.”

    1. Hey Lachlan,

      I’ve reached out to Google to get clarification on this. I’ll let you know when I hear back.

    2. Lachlan,

      I heard back from Google and what you were told is correct. I updated the article. I’m still asking for clarification on how this impacts photo views.

      1. Lachlan,

        Another update on this. Turns out the help article is wrong. I’m waiting on Google to correct it and once they do, I’ll update the article again.

    3. Google has now updated their help article (it was wrong before). I’ve updated the article again to reflect the new wording which matches what we had originally.

  18. Google has now updated their help article (it was wrong before). I’ve updated the article again to reflect the new wording which matches what we had originally.

  19. When you download Insights (excel file) a new column appears (Column E) labeled “Overall rating of this listing as of the date the report was generated” In my case, 10 locations in this report and Overall Rating for each location varies from 4.1 to 4.5. Any idea what this is, researched but havent found anything about this yet. Thanks!

  20. Perhaps I missed it, but what is the difference between “Direct” and “Branded” searches? Also, I still don’t understand the difference between views on Search and on Maps. Do people really go to maps.google.com to search for businesses? Or do they get to the map view via a Google search and then click through to the map results, such as driving directions? Thank you!

    1. Hi Kathleen,

      Direct searches are searches for your specific location that return a single Knowledge Panel. Most of these impressions would be people that have already heard about you via other forms of marketing or existing customers. This section also includes impressions from search results that only list a single business listing (a one-box).Branded searches are searches for brands you sell (even if it’s a part of your business name) that returns a list of results (multiple listings).

      Maps views only happen when someone is already within Google maps. However, searches that take place in the Local Finder get lumped in with Search, not Maps. Confusing, eh?

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