How to Understand Google My Business Insights for Higher Education

Carnegie Higher Ed Feb 13, 2019 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

When looking to increase your college or university’s organic search presence, Google My Business (GMB) should be somewhere toward the top of your list. Late last year, experts were surveyed and listed GMB as the #1 ranking factor for local search. (You can learn more about what exactly GMB is and how to utilize its Post feature here.)

After you’ve optimized your GMB property by updating photos, choosing categories, and checking that all information is accurate, the next step is to take a step back and monitor how your new listing is performing.  GMB’s “Insights” tab is your home for analytics relating to how your property is being interacted with. It’s colorful, exciting, and at first, a bit overwhelming.

How prospective students search for your college or university

The direct vs. discovery vs. branded search in Google My Business Insights can seem daunting. Google provides one-sentence definitions for each, but they still leave room for ambiguity.

A direct search is the result of someone searching for your exact school name or address, such as “University of La Verne.” A discovery search is someone who searches for a category like “public university,” “private college,” or “adult education.”

Branded search is the newest and most confusing of the search metrics. It’s more useful for retail businesses that carry specific brands like “Starbucks coffee” or “iPhones.” When someone in your area searches for a product, your GMB property has the potential to pop up. This area seldom applies for higher education, but in some cases, your property could appear when someone is searching for another nearby school or competitor.

A Google My Business Insights chart breaks down how users found the property in the past month.

Queries used to find your school’s GMB property

This section is essentially Google Search Console’s queries section, except it’s focused on what search terms caused the GMB property to appear. You can use these insights to inform Google Post ideas and gain insight into how potential students are finding your college or university. It can also let you know if you need to create GMB properties for individual schools on campus. For example, if a popular search term is “Your University School of Business,” you should consider claiming that GMB property to further optimize your organic search presence.

Where customers view your listing on Google

Potential students aren’t just viewing your GMB property on the search engine results page! Your property, with Posts, also shows up on Google Maps. This handy chart shows you a breakdown of how many people viewed your business on search or maps. These statistics highlight the importance of making sure your property is accurate and optimized. Wrong addresses and bad photos negatively impact how often people will stay engaged with your property.

A Google My Business Insights chart breaks down how many times the property appears in the search engine and on Google Maps.

Actions users take on your GMB property

Google My Business allows people to visit your website, request directions, and call the number listed on your property. The “customer actions” section tracks all of this. The following sections—direction requests and phone calls—break these down further by day, ZIP code, and more.

A Google My Business Insights chart shows how many times users interacted with the property by visiting the website, requesting directions, or calling.

Photo views and quantity

Uploading high-quality photos to your GMB property is important for a number of reasons. First, Google says properties with photos receive 35% more website visits than ones without photos. As an added bonus, you can save time when creating Google Posts by using photos that are already displayed on your property. You can use these graphs to compare yourself to “businesses like you”—in other words, properties in your area with similar categories.

A Google My Business Insights chart shows how photos are performing in relation to other similar properties.

Capitalizing on Local Search for Higher Education with Google My Business

When it comes to SEO, Google My Business accounts for a large portion of your local search engine visibility. If your college or university isn’t sure how to claim, optimize, or manage your Google My Business property, we’re here to help.

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