Segmenting Local & Organic Search Traffic

By December 19, 2016Local SEO

In the world of digital marketing, data is king. Correctly tracking conversions, website engagement, and other data points allows businesses to gain valuable insight into their website visitors & customers. With this information in hand, companies can make data-driven decisions to improve user experience, the checkout process, and focus on the content topics that receive the most engagement. Oftentimes, the hardest part is simply setting up the website tracking in the first place.

Of all the analytics platforms on the web, Google Analytics is by the most commonly used: BuiltWith says that 69.5 percent of Quantcast’s Top 10,000 sites (based on traffic) are using Google Analytics, and 54.6 percent of the top million websites that it tracks (source).

GA is great, but the majority of businesses aren’t using it to its full potential. Today, we’ll go through a common low-hanging fruit tactic that many local businesses are missing out on: segmenting local search from organic search.

What you’ll need:

  1. “Manager”-level access or higher to the Google My Business account
  2. “Edit”-level access or higher to the Google Analytics account

Generally speaking, there are three types of results shown in the SERPs for local queries: AdWords, Local, & Organic. Since local search results (from a Google My Business listing) are free, Local & Organic traffic are lumped together in the Google Analytics interface. Since these results are becoming more disjointed, it’s important to distinguish the two types of traffic & optimize both channels accordingly.

Step 1: Add UTM Parameters to your Google My Business URL

In a nutshell, Google Analytics uses UTM parameters to learn where traffic is coming from. To distinguish local search traffic from organic, we’ll need to append a set of parameters to our GMB URLs. These can be highly customized, but for our purposes, we’ll only need to append three parameters:


For example, the link to Longtail Marketing Agency’s website in our GMB profile is as follows:
These parameters will work out-of-the-box for your website, so feel free to use them. If you’d like to use custom parameters, this URL Builder allows you to modify them to your heart’s content.

How to implement

  1. Log into your Google My Business account & select the profile that you’d like to track.
  2. Edit the website URL field & add the parameters (?utm_source=google&utm_medium=maps&utm_campaign=local)
    1. For example, the full URL might look like this:
  3. Click save
Editing your URL in Google My Business

Step 2: Edit the default channel grouping in Google Analytics

Next up, we’ll need to tell Google Analytics that we’ve created a new channel & that we want to see its data under Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Channels

To do this, we need to:

  1. Select the Admin tab and navigate to the desired view
  2. Click Channel Settings
  3. Click Channel Grouping
  4. Click Default Channel Grouping
  5. Under “Channel Definitions”, click “Define a new channel”
  6. Name this new channel “Local Search” or something to that effect
  7. Under “Define Rules”, select “Source / Medium” contains “google / maps”
    1. Be sure to include a space on either side of the slash
  8. Click Done

Google’s support page on this topic can be found here. When you’re finished, it should look like this:

Google Analytics Channel Grouping


You can now track Local Search & Organic Search separately in Google Analytics by navigating to Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Channels

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