Separating Local and Organic Traffic in Google Webmaster Tools

 
 

Today I’m going to share a dead-simple Google Webmaster Tools hack that will help you split up pure organic impressions and clicks from Google’s local results. Hack is maybe a strong word, in any case it’s a workaround which compensates for the missing “Google Places” filter.

TL;DR: Use a custom URL on your Google Places listings.

If the TL;DR made sense straight away then go ahead and implement this, it’s useful! Otherwise read on.

Disobedient Canonicalisation

I found it strange that we had two URLs for our home page in Google Webmaster Tools, even though we had canonicalisation and redirects in place:

Pages

Technically nobody should have reached our website through dejanseo.com.au in organic search and all traffic should have arrived through dejanseo.com.au/index/ but the Webmaster Tools data said otherwise. At first I thought it was a bug, but considering the impressions and clicks were quite different I thought there must be another source.

So I did the only thing I could and checked each keyword in Google including some pretty obscure long tail queries. I found that majority of them displayed local results. Then it hit me, I used the clean URL without the /index/ on all our Google+ Local Pages:

Places

So now I know that 6,536 impressions were a result of my home page displaying as a local result and 106,913 was pure organic snippet. We used to have a custom URL for each office location e.g. /melbourne /sydney and both organic and places impressions and clicks were aggregated for those URLs in Webmaster Tools so I never realised the benefit of the data split until I changed our places URLs to dejanseo.com.au.

The above is far from sophisticated attribution and my next step will be to customise each URL to all our office locations.

Rebecca Lehmann described her tracking method in a Moz post here but I’d like to think that I’ve contributed to this with getting the impression data as well.

I still have to verify the data in the places dashboard and see how closely it matches what I’m seeing in Google Webmaster Tools. So far I’m seeing a huge discrepancy indicating that there are perhaps other means of our core URL to end up in Google’s impression data.

Will keep you posted if I discover anything else. In the meantime I’d appreciate your input.

Dan Petrovic is a well-known Australian SEO and a managing director of Dejan SEO. He has published numerous research articles in the field of search engine optimisation and online marketing. Dan's work is highly regarded by the world-wide SEO community and featured on some of the most reputable websites in the industry.

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