It has long been known that local search does drive traffic to a traditional brick and mortar establishment. SEO and marketing experts have focused on local search and local keywords and have seen a rise in store visits and conversion rates. However, to date, there has been no clear way to track this.

You saw the results but without any analytics data, it was difficult to build a properly optimized campaign around local search. That changed recently. Google released a dataset showing who will visit and won’t visit stores during the Black Friday sales.

Essentially, this was a release of foot traffic data into different kinds of stores. The data, while interesting, wasn’t the most important aspect of this release. No, it was Google’s ability to use location data from mobile phone users with their location setting switched on, that was notable.

How Google’s Ability to Track this Data Translates into Marketing

Aside from the fact that it sounds vaguely “creepy”, Google’s ability to track user movement does have its own benefits. It means that Google can provide access data that connects search to store visits. Industry experts did predict that this was on the cards for some time now. The concept behind it is simple:

  • When a user searches a particular local keyword, Google registers it
  • If the user visits that store, that visit is automatically catalogued. This can be tracked via geofencing implemented by the advertisers
  • The data can then be used to check just how many keywords and mobile ads users respond to
  • This data can be then displayed in Analytics in some shape or form

These were the early speculations. Experts were convinced that Google would be moving away from increasingly distrusted data-like impressions and clicks to something that can actually be quantified.

That turned out to be true. Last year, Google released Estimated Conversion Metrics in AdWords that would tie search and ads to foot traffic. However, that was only a partial release as they were only concerned with data sampling at that moment. Nevertheless, that was the first indication that Google was ready to take that seriously.

The Concern for Privacy

Google has been in hot water about privacy before. This new feature is bound to make several people incredibly nervous. Aware that this can be a potential problem, Google has made it a point to emphasize that they take privacy very seriously and the data can, in no way, be connected to an individual. The advertisers will gain no personal user information.

The visits are based ‘anonymous and aggregated statistics.’ according to this blog post by Google. There was no room for advertisers to interpret the data and connect it to a single person, let alone get any more information. Even if the store receives a small number of visitors, the data can’t be tied to individuals.

How it Works

Almost all business establishments, like a store, a restaurant, a hotel, etc, rely on online ads and specific local keywords to get customers to visit their business. A lot of effort is put into generating good reviews, getting social media recognition, increasing rankings on SERPs, etc. Advertisers would love to have a way to track ROI in a concrete way and that’s just what Google provided.

Now, if someone clicks on your ad or searches a keyword that leads them to your website and then visits your store within 30 days, the visit would be accounted into the data. You can see which ad campaign and device leads to your search visits. This means that you’ll know whether your mobile ads are more successful than your desktop ads. You’ll also be able to see which keywords drive more traffic to your website and which product is more popular.

This works best if you have a large dataset. For example, if you run a chain of stores and see several thousand clicks on your ads, you’ll get more accurate data. And by accurate, we mean that you’ll be able to actually use it to create the right campaign.

You won’t just be able to sort data through on the basis of an ad-group or keywords. You can also sort it on the basis of the day, a week, and a month. This would allow you to modify your bidding strategy accordingly and set the right parameters.

You can also use the data given to decide which product or service you should focus on and which generate the maximum amount of revenue. For example, if you run an electronics store and TVs are your biggest sellers, you can run campaigns specifically to draw traffic for the TVs.

Not Just For Advertisers 

Google will be using this data for the benefit of search engine users as well. The company would display the foot traffic graphs on the SERPs. For example, if you’re searching for a specific store, the graph would show when the store is most likely to be crowded. This would help shoppers who want to avoid the rush and book reservations in certain establishments.

You might find that a particular fine dining restaurant would be less busy during certain days and certain months. You can make reservations accordingly. This was showcased in the Google foot traffic analysis as explained by Marketing Land here. Black Friday shoppers would’ve benefited to know that that the stores were more crowded in the afternoon than they were in the morning.

While this is now in the early stages, every evidence suggests that it could become a mainstay and indispensable in our daily lives. People will start to plan their visits to the establishments by analyzing the data provided. This step towards true metrics is welcomed by all experts in the industry.

If you have any questions at all about local search, web design, and digital marketing, etc, you can contact us at Savage Global Marketing. You can get in touch with us by filling in this contact us form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also give us a call on 954 383 7092.