Educate yourself

Google Analytics Explained

When it comes to digital marketing, it can often be difficult to answer what seems like a straightforward question: how do I know what’s working? The nature of digital marketing is such that much of the response to it is unseen; we can’t actually observe people viewing our content, and sometimes the call to action doesn’t end in a transaction. In other words, digital marketing is a dynamic and nuanced technique. So the question remains: how do I know what’s working?

To answer this question, Google has concocted powerful insights that can help provide an answer. These insights take the form of Google analytics. Google Analytics primarily offer three insights as to:

  1. How customers find your business
  2. Where the view your business information
  3. What actions they take based on what they’ve seen.

These insights help answer three questions:

  1. Where to target your marketing
  2. What kind of content reaches your target market best
  3. What may be holding you back in ranking/domain authority

In this article, I want to explain just a bit about how you can understand and use these insights to meaningfully inform your marketing strategy. Whether you’re running a restoration company or a salon, these tips will help you answer important questions and point you in the direction of an effective content strategy.

The primary mechanism by which a business gets seen on Google is the Google Business Profile. Think of your Google Business Profile as the contemporary equivalent of a phone book listing on steroids, complete with contact info, calls to action, pictures, videos, and blogs about your offerings, and information about relevant offers and discounts, as well as reviews to indicate what others have thought of your offerings. If utilized wisely, the Google Business Profile can be a portal to a mutually beneficial purchase decision. Google Analytics help understand how customers are interacting with this profile and what they did with the information they found.

There are three primary analytics every business owner and marketing manager should understand: How customers search for your business, Where customers view your business on Google, and Customer actions. Each of these is listed in your Google Business Profile account. Let’s talk a bit about each one.

How customer search for your business – What’s the verbiage?

Google tells you every month how many times your profile was view in search results. That sum total is helpful, but when considering how to best get seen by relevant customers, it’s important to understand what wording they were using to find products and services in your industry. Google offers the “How customers search for your business” insight to help answer this question. Google’s tool breaks down search views between direct views, indirect views, and branded views.

  • Direct views. Direct views are views that stemmed from a search result involving the specific name of your company. For instance, if someone typed in “Tier Level Digital Marketing” to Google, and our company’s listing appeared, that would be a direct search view.
  • Indirect views. Indirect views stem from keyword searches. In other words, indirect views happen when someone searches a product or service you offer, but not your company name explicitly. For instance, if someone searched “digital marketing agencies in Tulsa, OK” and Tier Level Digital Marketing’s profile ranked in the SERP, that would be an indirect search view.
  • Branded views. Branded views occur when someone searches a product or service related to your brand but not your company directly.

If you are marketing for a large corporation with a significant digital marketing budget, it is typical to have a high volume of direct views, as your brand awareness will lend itself to more direct searches. But if your business is smaller, you really want to rank in indirect views. Having a high number of indirect views means that your products or services are highly relevant to needs in the market, opening up a significant number of new, hot leads monthly.

This can help answer important questions. For example, if you are a small business with a high number of direct searches, and you want to rank better within your industry, you may need to write more targeted content with better keywords. Compare the keywords you’re currently writing against the most-searched keywords in your industry and area. There are a number of helpful tools out there that help determine the most popular keywords in your industry, including Semrush and Moz.

Where customers view your business on Google – Search or Maps?

The Google Business Profile can appear both in results on Google’s main search engine results page (SERP) and in the maps independently. In other words, whether searching on Google’s main page or in the maps, your profile can be accessed. So, Google further divides the number of views your profile gets monthly between search views and maps views. Whereas search views appear in the regular SERP, maps views occur within the maps app or in the map pack that Google often presents at the top of the SERP.

While SERP rankings are important, at Tier Level, we place an equal premium on maps views for two reasons:

  1. First, customers often utilize maps as an independent search engine. If you don’t rank well on maps, you’re missing out on a significant share of search results.
  2. Second, the map pack appears in SERP results before the organic results do. In other words, you could rank several listings down on the SERP, but still be in the top three on maps and appear first. A well optimized profile allows your business to rank in maps as well as organic results.

Now, even if you run a service-based company without a showroom or location that can be visited, appearing in the maps is important, because it allows potential customers to see if you service their area. Many searches end with the words “near me,” and maps optimization allow customers to see whether or not you are indeed “near them.” There is also a feature within your Google Business Profile that allows you to enter zip codes, cities, and states within your service area. Your maps listing will then appear with a shaded area outlining your service area.

Customer actions – What did they do?

The third primary analytic we’re going to discuss may be listed last, but it is certainly not least important. The calls to action your profile includes, and what actions were taken based on them, are profoundly informative as to the efficacy of your written and visual content, including tone, quality, and relevance.

The three action buttons listed on any Google Business Profile are visit website, request directions, and call. These actions often have varying value between industries. If you run an online store, for examples, then website visits are probably the most effective action. On the other hand, if you are in a service-based company, you may have a higher need for calls.

Whichever action is most needed within your industry, there are key questions you can ask yourself as you observe your analytics month-over-month. If your action numbers decline or stagnate, you may want to ask – “Am I posting relevant content to my profile that would incentivize an action?” “Was it a difficult month in the market?” “Are my keywords slightly less relevant?” These and other questions can help inform you digital strategy.


While Google analytics don’t always answer every single question that could be asked, they provide an illustration of broader themes that can inform your marketing decisions. If you’ve been in the marketing world for very long, you’ve probably heard the quip, “Know your audience.” Knowing who your target market is and who is finding you on the web is powerful in understanding how to move forward. Google Analytics offer key insights that, if utilized correctly, will push the ball down the court in incredible ways.

I hope this has been helpful! At Tier Level, we are always here to help. Our team of SEO experts and Google gurus has done explored just about everything there is to explore in Google and would love to connect and help you level up your digital marketing efforts. Feel free to reach out to us any time!

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Ben Bender

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