Using Google My Business: How to Differentiate Your Organic Traffic From Direct Traffic
It's no secret that Google is the most popular search engine in the world. You already know about resources that help you find popular keywords and key phrases that relate to your industry, but there's other tools you can use. One of them is Google My Business.
What is GMB All About?
Google My Business is a simple tool designed to help you manage your online presence. You can update your basic business information, make sure your locations show up properly on Google Maps, and in general make sure consumers can find accurate data about the business and what it does. The nice thing is that GMB is free, and it doesn't take long to figure out how to do the updates, verify your locations on Maps are accurate, and in general ensure customers are finding correct date about the company.
So What's the Problem?
As great as this sounds, there is one snag. Some people have found a slight issue with the way GMB identifies and categorizes traffic. Specifically, some of the organic traffic ends up being identified as "direct" rather than "organic." That's a problem, because direct traffic figures let you know how often people are typing your URL directly into a browser while organic traffic lets you know how much of your traffic is the result of a search. Both matter, but inaccurate attribution makes it difficult to know how effective your methods for attracting each type of traffic are going.
How is This Happening?
There is more than one theory about how GMB inaccurately identifies traffic as direct rather than organic, but one of the more common has to do with mobile devices. It's no secret more people use their smartphones for searches than ever. It appears that GMB sometimes identifies those smartphone (and possibly some tablet) searches as direct traffic rather than organic. The throws off the information you can pull from Google Analytics.
Is There Anything I Can Do?
It's possible to get a more accurate assessment by doing one simple thing: add a little something to your website or blog URL on your Google My Business dashboard.
That little something is known as an Urchin Tracking Module. The addition basically flags organic traffic even if it gets dumped into the direct bucket. Since Analytics will reflect the UTM right along with the originating URL, it's possible to see if (a) you are having an attribution problem, and (b) how much of the supposed direct traffic is in fact organic.
The process is not difficult. You add the UTM code at the end of the custom URL. The code itself is not hard to configure. It will look like this:
This one change will ensure those organic clicks are properly attributed in your Google Analytics.
A Word About Google Posts
Have you tried Google Posts yet? It's a somewhat new feature that allows business owners to create content directly on Google. The idea is to have it display high in the rankings and reach a wider audience.
That's excellent, but the same type of attribution problem that plagues GMB seems to be popping up with Posts.
Fortunately, the same UTM strategy will work in this case. Tweak the UTM code to use "GooglePost" as the source, and leave the medium set to "organic." When you use the search console to check on your traffic, filter the pages result with "UTM" and you'll be able to see which traffic is organic. That data will help you determine if your current search engine optimization strategy is making it easier for people to find you and motivating them to click through to your pages.