Understanding Google My Business Insights

Google My Business, (previously known as Google Business Listings) is a free directory-like service that allows business owners to list their business, and have it show up on Google Maps, and in local search results for searches.

Over the years, the amount of real estate that’s been taken up by ads and local business listings on the search results page has noticeably increased, and with some much competition for attention, it’s a potential advantage that you can’t be without.

Chances are that you already have GMB listing though, and if you do, then its important to remember that it needs to be kept up to date with current address and contact details, opening hours, and any other relevant information. But that’s not what this piece is about…

GMB Insights

Part of the GMB functionality is their “Insights” interface, which effectively acts as a sort of Analytics for your Google My Business listing. Keeping an eye on this data can help you evaluate your listings performance, and even inform other marketing decisions you might need to make for your business.

When you sign into your GMB profile, you’ll see performance data for the last 28 days at the top right of the screen. This shows you how many people have looked at your business listing in that time, how many people saw if as a result of a search that they performed, and how much activity (anything from leaving a review or a comment to checking for directions, or just clicking through to your website) happened from your listing.

Clicking on each of these items will open them up to provide more information.


Searches are broken down into “Direct,” “Discovery,” and “Branded.” Basically, a direct search happens when somebody types your actual business name into Google. They already know about you, and they’re looking for you specifically, for whatever reason.

Discovery searches on the other hand, happen when users search for a generic term, (like in the example above, “bakeries Johannesburg”) and your listing appeared in the local search results that they were served, and Branded searches are where a user has searched for a brand associated with your business.

If you have less discovery searches than direct searches, you should be considering increasing your efforts at local SEO optimisation, so that you’re more visible to potential new customers, and not just to people who already know about you.

Under the Insights menu item, you’ll also find a sampling of the searches that people made which caused your listing to show, and this can be coupled with Search Console and Analytics data to see how your listing performs compared to the potentially wider online presence of your site itself.

Where Customers View Your Business

This section breaks down user interactions depending on whether they happened inside the search results page (which is usually more likely) or directly on the Google Maps interface. Although this isn’t a particularly critical metric, it can give you some insight into the effectiveness of your mobile optimisation, particularly if you’re in a high footfall or passing trade industry, like restaurants or hotels.

With 67% of smart phone users using Google maps, a high Maps interaction could suggest high mobile device visibility, which you can correlate with your Analytics referral data for the site.

Customer Actions

As mentioned earlier, these include things like clicking through to your site, calling you directly from the listing, requesting directions, and similar actions available to somebody who is viewing your listing.

You can use these to inform some internal strategies, for example, if lots of people are looking for directions, you might want to include directions on your website contact page, or mention nearby facilities, parking etc.

Direction requests can also give you an idea of where your customers are coming from, which can help you focus your geographic targeting for ads for example.

A Final Thought

Although GMB Insights provides some useful data and can help find places where you are doing well or need improvement, there are some limitations as well, including the amount of time data is kept for, (90 days at most, and some dimensions only have 1 months data), making it difficult to maintain a consistent picture over time, unless you are keeping meticulous records.

In addition, multi-location businesses are forced to download data for each location, which ends up as a spreadsheet, rather than the convenient graphics and graphs etc.

While this is a good starting point and overview, especially for local search, if you’re really serious about your data, you’ll need to be complementing this with proper Search Console and Analytics data analysis to get more detailed information.