How to Unlock the Power of Google My Business Search Queries

Google My Business Insights’ Search Queries is a fantastic tool that helps you understand how visitors are finding your GMB profile. Here, contributor Ben Fisher explains how to use them to inform your on-site content and ads strategies.

Google My Business Insights presents a fantastic opportunity to learn the behavior of people who are searching for a business, and it can help you make changes to your strategy based on quantifiable (albeit sometimes off) data. Google’s official definition of Insights is that it “focuses on how customers find your listing on Search and Maps, and what they do after they find it.”

The data provided in GMB Insights can confirm strategy and encourage you to continue moving towards your goals. Insights can also show you where you need areas of improvement in your strategy.

What are Google My Business Queries?

Remember back in the days of Google Places? In 2011, there was a treasure trove of data that one could see about how their local business was performing.

Keyword Queries

Source: Wright IMC

As explained in the Google My Business help center document,

“Search queries show you the queries used to find your business on Google. In the Insights tab, you can track common terms and search trends for your business. These queries should help you create better Posts with Google and even Ads to engage your customers.”

To put it simply, search queries focus on the terms that your customers used to find your business on Local Search and Maps.

These are the search queries that users enter into the search bars on desktop and mobile/maps, where your GMB Profile has been displayed to a user. They do not necessarily correlate with how many users visit your website, make calls, request directions, etc.

Google My Business Search Queries launched in the web-based version of GMB in July of 2018, but they didn’t become available for everyone until the end of August. The GMB queries data is different to what what you’ll see in Google Search Console, since the latter tracks both organic search traffic and local. Here’s a great article from Joy Hawkins that explains this.

Currently, you can see queries in one-week, one-month and one-quarter increments. While they’re not currently available in the GMB Mobile App or in the API, there is a ton of useful data in the GMB dashboard that can give you great insight into how people are seeing your listing, what keywords they are finding you through and the volume associated with those keywords.

What’s the value of Google My Business Search Queries?

Any time you can get a sneak peek into the data Google has about your business, you should take note. By looking at the queries you can adjust your strategy.

After talking to people at GMB, I realized that the on-site content does indeed affect how your GMB listing will rank in local. In the examples below I am going to show you below you can see that this is entirely true.

As a side note, when we see a majority of search queries using the “near me” term we can assume that these came from mobile searches.

Lets take a look at a few GMB profiles:

Luxury Real Estate Agent


Keyword Queries 2

Most queries are for “Palos Verdes Homes” (present on the website). Another is “best realtors near me” (local intent search), one’s for  “hiking and trails near me” (present on the homepage), and one’s for “gardening club near me” (present on the blog).

Steady Demand

Keyword Queries 3

Interestingly my company is displaying for “Google Maps” and “Google” (both are present on the site), “inner workings” (not on the site), “lafayette” (also on the site), and displayed alongside another company, (which I cannot replicate).

Lawyer in Toledo, OH

Keyword Queries 4

This client is showing queries that are all applicable to the company. All the search terms are present on the website and they are getting many good local intent queries like “lawyers in toledo”, “work lawyer”, “lawyers near me”, and “custody attorneys near me”.

Veterinarian in New Market

Keyword Queries 5

In this example, the client is displaying for terms that are all relevant to their business: “veterinarian”, “newmarket vet”, “vet near me”, “animal hospital”, “exotic vets”, and “bunny boarding near me”. This one’s interesting, as they talk about “rabbits”, not “bunny” on the site. There’s a semantic correlation between “bunnies” and “rabbits” that Google sees, so this makes sense.


I could go on, but the results seem to be the same no matter what profile I look at. While there are some terms that make no sense at all, the majority of terms are spot on!

I also believe the real reason Google has implemented Search Queries comes down to the people who keeping coming back to the GMB Dashboard. This way Google helps a listing owner discover the value for themselves and… ads! (There, I said it.)

If you have visibility into how people are searching for you then you can take action to create ads that target those users who are actively searching for a business like yourself.

Also note that this excerpt is directly under the general description on the page that talks about queries.

Now that you know what queries your customers are using, get started with Google Posts or Google Ads to capitalize on what you know!

The takeaway from all of this is that your website content still matters, as it can influence how people are discovering you. As an agency, you should test adding content to your clients’ sites to see if this impacts their visibility in GMB and in GSC. If you see something is working, then continue to test and see what data is revealed.

Or you can just go and buy ads 😛

Ben Fisher is a Google My Business Gold Product Expert, and an experienced veteran in SEO and social since 1994. He is also a contributor to the MOZ Local Search Ranking Factors Study. He’s the co-founder of Steady Demand, which works with agencies and businesses to maximize outsourced Local SEO and Social Media. He can be reached on Twitter at @TheSocialDude or @SteadyDemand.

The post How to Unlock the Power of Google My Business Search Queries appeared first on BrightLocal.

Service Area Businesses: GMB ‘Service Area’ Update and SERP Clicks Analyzed

Big news for Service Area Businesses (SABs) this week, as Google has confirmed and rolled out a change to the way you set your service area in Google My Business (GMB).

Whereas previously you could define the radius around your business address (e.g. ‘Serving customers within 40 miles’) in GMB, you now have to define your service area by region, city, or ZIP code instead.

As this is no longer tied to your business address, you now have the option to not display this in your GMB if you don’t serve customers at your business address. This will be a welcome relief for SABs having to turn customers away from their front doors!

In addition to this news, GMB Gold Product Expert Ben Fisher published a few notes on this change in this excellent Local Search Forum thread:

  1. SABs will now be able to create a listing without designating an address (verification may still be required in most instances).
  2. Increased focus on place-based service areas to provide human-readable descriptions
  3. Existing SAB’s will be able to remove their address.
  4. Removing your address and not designating a Service Area will default to the country.
  5. Existing radius areas will eventually translate to places (cities, zips, etc.)
  6. If postcard verification is needed, the address will not show on maps.
  7. The core reason for this is to better match the consumer to SAB’s.
  8. If you designate multiple service areas, Google will rank them equally.
  9. Drastic changes to your service area could require re-verification (e.g. changing from AZ to NY)

Source: Local Search Forum

It will be particularly interesting to see how much this affects how Google’s Local Services Ads (LSAs), which appear at the very top of SERPs for searches for service areas businesses in certain parts of the USA.

Where Do People Click on SERPs for Service Area Businesses?

On that note, as part of our recent study into the impact of LSAs on SERP clicks, we broke down where and why users click on particular SERP links when searching for a SAB.

Even though the study was ostensibly about LSAs, we noticed some really interesting trends on clicks on standard SAB SERPs (for searches like ‘plumbers san francisco’).

Breakdown of clicks on SERPs for Service Area Businesses

As you can see, more than 50% of all clicks on SAB SERPs (without LSAs present) go to organic search results, and an impressive 32.26% go to the Local Pack. Although PPC ads appearing at the top of the page receive a credible amount of clicks (14.11%), the same can’t be said for PPC ads at the bottom of the page, which receive a paltry 0.44%.

Click here for a full visual representation of these clicks on the page, complete with a side-by-side comparison of clicks on SERPs when LSAs are present.

That’s the ‘what’ covered; now it’s time to look at the ‘why’, which reveals some really interesting motivations behind clicks that can help your refine your local SEO strategy.

Why Do Consumers Click Where They Do on SERPs for Service Area Businesses?

Reasons for Clicks by SERP Type

This data reveals a few key things that should help anyone working with a Service Area Business to focus on areas that will really make a difference to clickthroughs.

Most people click on directory links

Firstly, nearly a third of people who clicked on an organic result did so because they knew it was a link to a directory. Although these links tended to appear the highest in organic rankings, you’ll notice that only 8% of people clicked an organic link because of its position on the page.

This strongly suggests that those in the local SAB research phase are highly likely to be looking for a list of the ‘best’ or ‘top’ businesses, rather than refining their search based on what appears in the SERP.

This means it’s absolutely crucial for your SABs to be included in directories to stand a chance to appear in one of these directory lists when a local search is performed. (We just happen to be a dab hand at citation building if this is something you’re looking for assistance submitting to online directories.)

Reviews are king in the Local Pack

When it comes to the Local Pack just beneath the map, an astonishing 50% of people said that their clicks on these business listings were primarily motivated by the review rating appearing in the Local Pack listing. Not only that, but the number of reviews was cited as the second most important reason.

This highlights how critical your online reputation is to clicks through your listing. You might be doing everything else you can to appear in the Local Pack for relevant search terms, but if your competitors are beating you on strength of reputation, you’re likely to be losing out on clicks.

We’ve researched and written extensively on online reviews, so if you need a business case to get serious about reviews, the following studies should help reinforce it.

If you’re looking for help generating, monitoring and responding to reviews, guess what, we’ve got that covered, too! Check out our recently launched tool, Reputation Manager.

The Local Services Ads Click Study

If you’re working with Service Area Businesses in the US and haven’t already taken a look, I’d strongly recommend you check out the recent Local Services Ads Study. With expert commentary, you’ll come away with a full understanding of what goes on in SERPs when someone searches for an SAB.

We’d Love to Hear Your Thoughts

How do you feel about the update to Service Area in GMB? Is it a positive or negative change? And what do you take away from these findings about SERPs? Let us know in the comments below.

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