Google’s New Dashboard Offers Business Insight

Google has enhanced its Local Business Center service with a dashboard designed to give Web site owners a better idea of where traffic is coming from and what search terms users are selecting.

The Local Business Center is a free tool designed for business owners that lets them control how content on business listings appear in Google Search and Google Maps.

The dashboard, which went live today, gives registered LBC customers the ability to see what search terms people are clicking on to find their site and what steps they took to get there. The data is rendered anonymous and aggregated.

The news comes at a time of increased interest in location-based information and services as well as stepped up competition on the search front, with Google competitor Microsoft recasting and relaunching its “Live” search engine as Bing.

“Before now, you could track usage metrics on your website using a tool like Google Analytics, but data about how customers found you in other ways never got back to you,” said Amer Shahnawaz, a software engineer for Google’s Local Business Center, in a blog post. “That all changes today, and we think business owners will really get a lot out of this new information.”

A Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) spokesperson says users will see a new tab that’s pre-populated with 30 days worth of data, which the user (i.e. the business owner of the listing) can customize for a specific view or data range. The data is automatically updated daily.

Tied to and Google Maps

For example, the dashboard provides such information as the number of times a listing, like a restaurant name, appeared as a result on a or Google Maps search over a given period.

Customers can also see the number of times consumers interacted with a listing, such as clicking through to the business’ Web site or to get driving directions.

The other two key areas of new information are top search queries and zip codes. The dashboard shows which queries led customers to the listing. For example, it might show that “Karate” and “Martial Arts” are the leading search terms directing consumers to Jim’s School of Self-Defense.

Zip code information shows where customers are coming from when they request directions to a business listing. This could be useful to a retailer if, for example, she sees a large number of people are driving cross town from a location ripe for expansion.

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