How to Integrate GSC and GMB Search Strategy for the Best Local Visibility

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Did you know that the search query performance results are different between Google Search Console (GSC) and Google My Business (GMB) for the same brand? Technically, they are both organic search results, so we wanted to explore this issue a bit more.

The discrepancy is mainly caused by two factors:

The Freshness of Data

GMB is only showing the most recent monthly or quarterly aggregated data, whereas GSC is showing data that is only a few hours behind live data. This has been the major contributor to data mismatch between GSC and GMB.

Since late 2020, however, Google has been making significant updates to the GMB insights data by creating the new profile performance report. See an example below:

Compared to the previous version, the most significant improvement is in the freshness of data. Currently the main metrics are updated daily, and other metrics are updated monthly. And you’ll be able to review the performance by selecting custom time frames. Data will be available for up to 6 months.  Find Google’s detailed list of changes here.

Google Rewards Local Businesses More on GMB

The second cause of the difference is due to the difference in the “intention” of the platforms. When comparing the search queries, we noticed that Google rewards local businesses more on GMB listings, especially local businesses with strong local intent signals.

For example, looking at our data for Location3.com:

As you can see from the result, the primary top search queries are dominated by brand terms. This makes sense. On the national level, your brand name should be your most competitive term.  On the GMB listing result, however, most of the terms are generic with a geographic intent. There is almost a built-in advantage for being local on GMB listings. And this allows small brands to have a voice for organic results.

What does this mean?

There are two important takeaways for us from this data:

Integrate Google Search Console and Google My Business

Google Search Console is like your national broadcasting channel. You should always have a national strategy on your key terms. GMB is more of a local division. Depending on the presence of the competition, there might be unsaturated opportunities for GMB listings.

Google My Business is an extension of your business

When optimizing search queries for Google Search Console, most businesses place a lot of emphasis on landing pages. However, we often don’t place enough emphasis on the Google My Business profile. Google places significant weight on the relevance of the content on local profiles. And that is where most companies don’t take advantage of – and leave – opportunities on the table.

Depending on your business, there are many ways to optimize your GMB listing page. Just as Google rewards relevant search results that are helpful to users, Google also rewards helpful local information within your business profile. You have to start by having the correct business information on your profile page. You can also take advantage of the Q&A and Post content to promote relevancy.

Case Study Example

Below is an example of successful optimization on behalf of a multi-location, service-based business. It’s important to note that service-based businesses, like plumbers or HVAC repair, often visit customers directly to provide services and/or products. This calls for a specialized approach to local digital marketing since tactics aren’t necessarily related to their official business address.

In addition to maintaining clean and accurate listing data, our team optimized Google My Business Questions & Answers and Google Post content to increase relevancy on key themes.

System-wide, we saw tremendous engagement with listings on Google My Business, with significant gains YoY. Total Actions on GMB listings increased by 115%, numbering 55,865. We also saw a 172% increase in visits to website, totaling 27,418.

Hand in hand with listings optimizations on Google My Business, local SEO strategy to drive traffic to relevant, local webpages is a must. Our cohesive strategy for our partner brand increased clicks to local pages by 114% YoY in 90 days.

When filtered to Non-Brand terms, we saw a 333% increase in clicks to the local pages.

graph showing non-brand returns

Actions and Next Steps

If you are a small local business or franchisee serving your local community, we hope you are convinced of the importance of optimizing your local presence on GMB and using it as an extension of organic strategies.

Additionally, here are 4 ways a local business can expand awareness and drive customers with local SEO:

Create Quality Content

The first is creating quality content, which should not be confused with volume of content. Writing quality content provides value to your end users and actionable advice they can use. At the same time, it also fills a void in your business’s exposure within the search engines. It is important to consider how you are answering real questions potential customers might have with your content, because the focus should truly be quality over quantity. A high volume of irrelevant content can actually cannibalize your search marketing efforts and produce fewer conversions.

Ensure that Local Site Pages are Optimized for SERP Performance

Especially make sure that page titles, headers, local business schema are consistent with GMB profile information. When optimizing content based on keywords, ensure that content is organized on-page. For example, each secondary keyword target should get at least 2-3 sentences with an H2 or H3 level heading. Yes, hierarchy is important! This strategy takes advantage of Google’s passage-based indexing model.

Develop Local Relationships with Other Businesses

Building a relationship with other business owners in your local neighborhood will allow for the collaboration of reciprocal mentions, also known as citations. Establish a relatable message; including each other’s store address is one example of cross promotion that can have a positive impact on your SEO performance.

Follow Up with Customers Reviews

When you provide customers with products and services, it’s important to find ways to request feedback via reviews on Google, and moreover, it’s important to respond to your customer reviews. Following up with a reply to positive or negative feedback is very powerful from a customer loyalty perspective, but it also has the potential to positively impact your organic search presence. It allows prospective customers to see how you manage customer relationships from those past reviews, and that natural content also plays a role in increasing your business’s visibility in the Google Local Pack.

In sum, taking some basic steps to create quality content, build relationships with local businesses, and engage frequently with customer reviews, will help lead to a better SEO performance, and ultimately, more customers for your business.

Does your franchise marketing team need help executing these GMB listings and SEO recommendations across all brand locations? Our team is here to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.