A neighborhood search engine optimization goldmine for retailers
- Check your free local listing dashboard
- Now that you have the data, find out what it means
- Tips for retailers to get the most from Google Merchant Center information
Much of the data that informs you about your SEO strategy can no longer be seen. You just need to know where to look. For retailers with multiple locations, the Google Merchant Center can be a data treasure to help them achieve this competitive advantage.
Last November, just in time for the holidays, Google began displaying free local product listings at the bottom of the Google My Business pages.
They’re the free version of Google’s local inventory displays, and they look like this:
This program is open to all brick and mortar businesses with a Google Merchant Center account in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States Overview of local inventory displays from Google for further updates.
All you have to do is opt for the Surfaces Via Google program in GMC. Here you can sign up.
While the reports available to participating companies are minimal, there is enough data for local companies to use this program as a secret weapon to improve their digital performance.
I call it secret because I’m pretty much sure none of your competitors are using this data (until, of course, they see this article).
Here’s how to leverage this wealth of local SEO data.
Check your free local listing dashboard
In Google Merchant Center, go to Performance> Free Local Listings. There you can display clicks, impressions and click rates over different time periods.
You can also view similar information for the non-local “free listings” that usually appear on the Google Shopping tab. However, these do not contain any “local” information.
Click the “Free Local Deals: Transport” link. This data is broken down by product, brand and category.
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The product report usually contains most of the data, but any of these reports can give you pointers that will help you optimize.
As far as I know, free local product lists are only appended to Google My Business Knowledge Panels in the SERPs or in the local Finder / Google Maps as shown here:
This means that these entries will mainly be shown for trademark inquiries (in fact, the majority of GMB knowledge panels will mainly be shown for brand inquiries).
Read on below
Hence, Google Merchant Center data offers unique insights into what people familiar with your brand are looking for.
While they don’t break the data down by location (when are we going to get that, Google?), You can use your own analytics to find out.
A quick word of warning …
“If you use a third party to measure local inventory ads or free local product listings, the information obtained from users interacting with your ads or lists on Google cannot be used by you or by any other party to create targeting segments Used for remarketing purposes or to run fingerprints from browsers or devices. “
It doesn’t sound like using the data Google gives you to populate pages without targeting those users is a problem. However, as with all search optimization tactics, make sure you meet the requirements before trying some of these ideas.
Now that you have the data, find out what it means
In the example above, this dashboard by brand shows that Samsung branded products received ~ 91,000 clicks from the GMB product widget over the period.
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In your analysis, you can create a report for unpaid listings on the Samsung PDPs that came from Google.
Then filter this report based on the user’s location.
It’s not perfect, but it can give you a general idea of which cities Samsung has been in the most demand for. You can do the same with the By Product information.
The data by category isn’t that helpful as you can’t break it down by product and / or brand. However, it can give you a general idea of which broad categories perform best in which regions.
This can be helpful when we put this data into action.
(Full Disclosure: I’m still trying to convince our TechOps team that it’s worth scraping the GMB widgets and linking them to the GMC data and analysis to create a regularly updated view of performance .)
Now that you know which GMB products are clicked on from different locations, you can follow this up further and view the conversion rates by brand, product and location to get an impression of the top performers.
Read on below
The more products you carry, the less data you will have for each product as Google seems to switch them frequently.
By the way, Google gives us some valuable information about this rotation.
There has to be a method (may I say an algorithm?) That Google uses to determine which products should be displayed on each GMB page and when.
Given the amount of data Google has access to, Google probably understands your customers better than you do – at least in terms of what makes them click.
Monitoring these patterns is probably one of the best pieces of information you can find for information about how to sell products and brands on your own website.
Tips for retailers to get the most from Google Merchant Center information
Add clicked / converting products and brands above to your location pagesand these vary depending on the location. If that’s too much work, start with the same top performers on all site pages.
We rarely see local e-tailers doing something really unique for website visitors in certain locations. Use this information for power recommendations across the site for these geographic users.
Read on below
Use this data to start a GMB Posts campaign promote popular products. Since GMB posts often appear at the bottom of the Google My Business Knowledge Panels, they may work as well as the product widgets and you have more control over the messaging.
Extra Credit: This is not specific to GMB products, but as it is a local search optimization, Observe the next click and search behavior by users entering through location pages.
Improve conversion by adding an advertisement to the top of each location page for what they are looking for / clicking the most. (Hat tip to Noah Lerner for sharing this tip.)
Photo credit: All screenshots by the author, April 2021