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Tracking Local Search Results

You’ve seen this before, right?

Google Local 10-Pack shows local businesses above normal web results

This is a fine example of Google blending in their local results from Google Maps into their normal web results. You’ll see it when you type in a search using geographically-specific keywords, like a city name, zip code, or neighborhood along with product or service-related keywords. For example, try Boston hotels or florists in Chicago – see what I mean?

This is great for local businesses – it’s a “free” ticket to the top of the search results. But how do you know if people are clicking on your local listing, or how many, or what keywords they are using to trigger your local listing?  Unfortunately, Google doesn’t make it easy to track those clicks (what fun would that be anyway?)

You see, if you click one of the 10 local businesses to the right of the map, it takes you straight to that business’ website, with the utm_source=google and the utm_medium=organic. That’s right, no indication that the click came from the local 10-pack. That left me wanting for a way to segment and track just those visits that came from the local listings, which I’m happy to share with you.

It should be obvious that you have to have claimed or submitted your business listing in Google Maps first. For those that haven’t, read these Google Maps horror stories about businesses that haven’t claimed their listings. Go ahead, I’ll wait. OK – now go to the Google Local Business Center (LBC) and claim or submit your business listing.

Now, assuming that you have your business listing created, let’s tweak it a bit for our tracking purposes. From the LBC, find the account you want to edit and click on, you guessed it, “edit.” Where you list your website address, instead of just entering your plain-Jane homepage URL, let’s dress it up with some tracking code. For example, instead of http://www.yourbusiness.com try this:

http://www.yourbusiness.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=local

That’s it. Save your changes and wait 1-2 weeks for Google to update their listings.

If this sounds too easy and you’re just waiting for the catch, here it is (it’s a small catch). The tracking code makes for an “ugly” URL, but it only shows up in one place. If you do a search in Google Maps for a business and click on the marker for that business, it will open up the small info box on the map, as shown below:

You can see in the above example that the displayed URL doesn’t show our tracking code, but the actual link does include the code. This is how it should be – good clean URL for the user, and tracking code for the analysts. The only place where this breaks down is if you click on the “more info” link just below the business name in the info box, as seen below:

A small price to pay for being able to track the clicks that come from your local business listings.

Jim Gianoglio

About Jim Gianoglio

Jim Gianoglio is a Senior Digital Analyst at LunaMetrics. He works with implementation and analysis of Google Analytics, and spearheads the LunaMetrics Google Analytics seminars across the country. Want to see him in action? He'll be leading some of our upcomingGoogle Analytics trainings. Before succumbing to the siren song of analytics, he led the SEO campaigns of Fortune 500 companies in the insurance, retail and CPG industries. Things you didn’t know about Jim: he has biked from Pittsburgh to Washington DC, photographs weddings, and roasts his own coffee beans.

http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2008/11/10/tracking-local-search-results/

6 Responses to “Tracking Local Search Results”

Thanks. Love the tip as I’ve been wondering about how to do that for some time. A question though – do the results show up neatly in Google Analytics or do you have to do some filtering to see traffic coming from Google Maps? Surely it is only a matter of time before Google split out the Maps results in Analytics themselves.

Jim says:

Hi Ben – good question.

Google Analytics already differentiates between visits from http://www.google.com and maps.google.com. It shows visits from Google Maps (http://maps.google.com) as referral visits from maps.google.com (as opposed to visits from http://www.google.com, which appear as organic search visits from Google).

The problem is when the maps/local results (local 10-pack) are included in the normal web search results at http://www.google.com. Clicks on those local results show up in GA as organic search visits from Google – not very helpful.

As long as you code your URL in the Google Local Business Center to include the campaign tracking parameter (utm_campaign=local), then it’s easy to look at just those visits in your GA by going to Traffic Sources > Campaigns. Also, the new Advanced Segments feature in GA makes it even easier to view the different metrics and dimensions of just that group of visitors.

Hi Jim, good tip! I always realize that there are still another points to track. Aside from standard campaign trackings I used to do that for Google Product Search (Google Base) referers and also for email-footer referers …

jaamit says:

I tried doing this a few weeks ago and the listing seems to have disappeared completely from Google Local! WTF? Any ideas whether that is related to me adding the tracking URL? Have removed it now, will wait and see if it comes back.

Think I’ll use this method of tracking instead: http://www.searchcowboys.com/seo/256

Ugur Onur says:

thanks for information. it’s very useful

Hey Jaamit, the article you are referring to is nowadays to be found at martijnbeijk.com/how-to-track-universal-search-traffic-with-google-analytics/