Tap into the World of Local Market Opportunities with Business Data API
Local search results surface tons of valuable insights into how businesses operate – from a business location, category, and contact details to open hours, service options, and many more. On top of that, Google provides some unique data that can help drive smart business strategies and eventually, customers and revenue.
In this article, we’ll explore the SEO perspective and the real-life benefits of analyzing competitor business data with API. But first, let’s cover the basics.
More and more people are using Google to find nearby places or services. And yet, local searchers rarely land on a business’s website. Here’s why.
When you perform a Google search like “pizza near me”, the results page features a “local pack” with three business listings and sometimes a few ads above them. If you search on Maps, the results will show only business listings and map with their pins. Clicking on a particular business from either local pack, or Maps results, will open an expanded block with place details.
The abundance of information searchers can get without leaving Google is in most cases well-sufficient for making a purchasing decision.
It’s even possible to interact with a place directly from within search results, such as make a call or message a business. In other words, having a business listed in the results drives conversions directly from search.
Considering the enormous reach and ample opportunities to connect with customers, Google search is a vital driveline for local businesses.
Knowing this, successful businesses are seeking to keep their Google Business Profiles or GBPs (formerly, Google My Business, or GMB) filled with as much information as possible.
First of all, this ensures that the relevant information is listed where the customers are looking for it.
Secondly, the completeness of GBP is one of the factors that affect conversions the business gets.
GBP filled directly by business owners are Google’s primary datasource for local listings. However, Google also uses other sources, which include business websites, licensed third-party data, information from contributing users, and data collected from Google’s interactions with a place.
Either way, having a GBP is only the prerequisite for being discovered on Google. The problem is, there are only three places in the local pack, and people are very unlikely to scroll past the first page of business listings on local finder or Google Maps.
Same as with other types of searches, the way results are placed is determined algorithmically and depends on many factors. Yet, things are more tangled for local searches.
According to Google, local search rankings are primarily determined by:
- Relevance – correlation of the search query with business profile and offering.
- Distance – proximity of a place to the searcher’s location.
- Prominence – reputation and popularity of the place based on data from the web, such as links, articles, reviews, rating.
However, the arrangement of results may also vary with the time of search. That is, businesses that are open when the search is made get uplifted in the results, while the closed ones are pushed further.
As you can see, Google’s local ranking algorithm considers not only a business’s online profile but also real-world aspects, like the real-life popularity of a place, work hours and physical address. This blend is what makes local SEO so complex and drastically different from other optimization practices.
What’s similar, the linchpin for building a successful local SEO strategy is benchmarking where a business stands in local results. Yet, this brings up another problem. Given the proximity factor, it’s impossible to understand the actual state of things if checking rankings from only one location. However, this can be solved with an up-to-date automation solution.
As local SEO best-practices evolved, so did local SEO tools. Many of them offer a bird’s eye view of rankings based on multiple precise search locations. In this way, one can get insights into both street-level and average performance of a business.
While this puzzles out local rank tracking for SEOs and business owners, it certainly does the opposite for vendors and developers of local SEO software. In essence, devising a proper local rank tracker requires collecting data for multiple granular location points for each business, which is considerably expensive. But not necessarily, as you will find out from the next part.
Generally, the two options for obtaining local SEO data are scraping it in-house or turning to a third-party provider. The complexity of the first solution in most cases turns out to be an overkill, both in terms of human and financial resources required. In contrast, a data vendor can supply you with parsed and structured data through API, which is much faster and more cost-efficient.
With specifically local SEO data, there’s more to say about APIs, as there’s a first-party API.
Owning an extensive database of over 200 million places and place details, Google offers a Places API that allows fetching location and business data. However, access to it comes at a hefty price.
Even though Google Places API provides monthly recurring $200 free credit, this will be enough for making up to 8K requests per month only. Above that amount, you will need to pay $25 for 1K Nearby Search requests which return up to 20 business listings in each. In this way, you can obtain a list of businesses ranking for a particular query along with basic business data, contact details, rating and number of reviews.
If you need more business data, you will have to make a separate Place Details request to fetch the details for one particular business entity. For example, 1K requests will return more broad datasets on 1K businesses and will cost you another $25.
Overall, getting rankings and place details for 20K business entities with Google Places API will cost you $25+$500=$525.
Another important thing to note, Google Places API does not return data for service area businesses (SAB). For example, BightLocal is using Google’s API for Google Review Link & Place ID Generator and if you try it with a SAB name, nothing will be found.
At DataForSEO, we are using a different approach. With our Google Maps SERP API and Business Data > Google My Business API, you can fetch comprehensive data on any business listed on Google. More importantly, we are making this data affordable for any company. From facts to figures, check the table below for a quick comparison of DataForSEO API and Google Places API cost.
Google Places API
|Ranking data||$25 for 1K requests
up to 20 business listings
|$3 for 1K requests
can contain 100+ business entities
|Business data||$500 for 20K business entities||$60 for 20K business entities|
What’s more, by using the Business Data > Business Listings API, which provides information from our own Business Listings database, you can obtain the same amount of data at a cost of just $6.2. This is a cheaper alternative that allows accessing information from Google Business Profiles that’s up to 90 days old. In contrast, Google Maps SERP API and DataForSEO Google My Business API collect fresh data once you send a request.
Google Maps SERP API provides an overview of any business featured in Google Maps SERP, including its ranking, address, reviews score and working hours.
To get more comprehensive data on the discovered businesses or services, you’ll need to make separate requests with our Google My Business API or Business Listings API, which will still cost 88% or even 98% less than with Google’s API.
In addition to this, you can also retrieve Google Posts shared by any business entity through their GBP. One request to the Business Updates endpoint will furnish you with up to 4490 Google Posts shared by a specific business. For example, to get this data for each of 20K business entities, you’ll need to make 20K requests, which will cost $30 in total.
Combining the data collected with Google Maps API and Business Data API, you can devise a full-fledged tool for local rank tracking and competitor research. The next part will showcase several examples of how the data provided by these APIs can be used for resolving not only digital but also real-life problems.
Let’s say we know a guy called Pete, who owns a Pizza restaurant in Pittsburgh. He doesn’t get as many customers as he wishes he would, while the businesses nearby seem to have plenty.
Checking rankings on Google Maps
Being a savvy guy, Pete knows a few things about SEO. So, he guesses that his competitors must be ranking higher in the results, when people type something like “pizza near me” in the search bar on Google or Google Maps.
What he needs to do now is to check where his business listing appears for the query. A simple rank tracker that would satisfy this business owner’s needs can be built on top of Google Maps API. For each request, you can define:
- Precise location down to coordinates and Maps zoom
- Device (mobile or desktop)
- Device OS
With the Live method of data delivery, our API will instantly pull the results into your system. The response will contain not only rank for each business that showed up in the results but also:
- Business name
- GBP landing URL
- Review rating and values
- Place description
- Phone number
- Open hours
In this way, you can craft a tool where users enter their business name and pick an area within which several search points will be checked to quickly find the rank of their place for each. You can visualize this data on a Map with a popular geogrid technology introduced by LocalFalcon:
Using such a tool our Pete from Pittsburg will be able to see that his business ranks better close to its physical address, but things go south when the searchers are further.
Sure enough, Pete wants to understand why this happens. There’s obviously nothing one can do with the impact of the proximity factor. Yet, there are two more to consider – relevance and prominence. Besides that, Pete knows that GBP completeness may affect rankings too.
Now Pete needs to dig deeper and see more data on his competitors. To provide a user like Pete with this info, you can integrate Business Data API into your software. It will pull more information about any business listed on Google, including:
- GBP attributes
- Primary GBP category
- Additional GBP categories
- ‘People also search for’ (usually enlists competitors)
- Current status (e.g., open or temporarily closed)
- Popular times
You can, for example, empower your rank tracking software with a GBP completeness check feature. This will allow Pete to do a quick comparison of competitor profiles and understand what his GBP might be missing. On top of that, if you add a feature that would match the search query with the GBP data (business name, description, categories and attributes), your tool will also help Pete to measure the relevance of his and competitors’ offering to the query.
Exploring competitor reviews
Pete also knows that Google considers keywords beyond the place details, and also looks through business’s Google reviews. With Google Maps API integrated into your tool, Pete can see rating and review values already, but now he needs to check all reviews and their content to see if any contain keywords from the query.
Empowered by Reviews API, your tool will be able to furnish Pete with a full list of Google reviews for any competitor, with the following data for each review:
- Review content
- Review publication time
- Reviewer’s name
- Reviewer’s status (local guide)
- Owner’s response
- Response publication time
On top of this API, you can develop another feature that would, for example, go through the content of the reviews, pull the words matching the search query discovered for each place and organize the data into a comparison table.
This functionality will help Pete to quickly understand if his competitors outperform his business with the help of reviews. Knowing this, he can outline a strategy for encouraging more of his customers to write reviews for his business.
In this way, Pete just went through some basics of local SEO and competitor research. Now he can start optimizing his GBP, and he will be able to do so right from your tool, if you integrate Google’s free Business Profile APIs.
However, we’ve done some competitor research with Pete based on just one keyword that he thought was most frequently used to look for businesses like his. Certainly, there are more keyword opportunities for Pete yet to discover. You can provide him with more ideas using DataForSEO Labs API.
Investigating competitor service options
After our Pittsburgh guy looked for more search terms relevant for his little pizza business, he found out that one of the popular keywords is “pizza delivery”. The thing is, Pete’s place offers delivery, but he doesn’t get many orders.
Now Pete wants to get back to your tool and see what businesses rank high for this term. This time he can use a broader region as a location and get the results based on one request with Google Maps SERP API. However, Pete still needs to see the full picture, which includes complete business profiles and reviews, given that Google considers this information when determining rankings.
With the help of Business Data API and Reviews API, you can supply Pete with the necessary additional information. Having the features we described in the previous use-case, your tool can provide users with a quick overview of businesses that have the words from the search query mentioned in place details and reviews.
This data can help Pete to see that businesses which have attributes containing the word “delivery” available tend to rank higher than those having “delivery” mentioned in their reviews only. Taking that on board, Pete will add this attribute to his GBP to secure higher rankings.
In fact, using your tool, Pete could also check additional options provided by his nearby competitors to pivot his real-life business strategy.
Spying on competitor business strategies
For example, in many places people are still taking precautions because coronavirus did not fade away. Imagine, Pete’s place did not offer “curbside pickup” or “no-contact delivery”, while the majority of nearby places did. Doing a deeper competitor research with your tool empowered by Business Data API could help Pete to find out the opportunities he’s been missing out on.
Getting even more granular, the insights gained from your tool could help Pete to better adjust to customer behaviour. Let’s say Pete’s place hardly gets any visits between 3 pm and 6 pm. So, he wants to check if things are the same for his competitors.
As we already know, Pete is a smart guy, so he won’t wander the streets and hit all the nearby pizza places to check that. He can easily dive into this competitor info using your tool.
Business Data API returns popular times of a place, which is a unique Google feature. On top of this data, you could incorporate another useful functionality that will allow Pete to compare crowded times of competitor places, and rearrange the work hours of his business. For instance, if many nearby pizza restaurants got their peak hours between 12 pm and 2 pm, while Pete’s place was closed for a lunch break from 1 pm to 2 pm, he might reconsider this timing for the sake of getting more customers.
Keeping up with competitor updates
Pete might also want to share a Google Post when updating the hours in his GBP.
Google Posts is another Google’s feature that facilitates business-customer interaction directly in search. Using this option, business owners can share timely short-form content on their GBPs. The posts created by a business entity appear under the place’s “Updates” tab in the mobile version of Google Maps and on business profile in local finder (both for desktop and mobile). This feature also shows up in a business’s knowledge graph for common Google searches containing a brand name. In addition to “hours update”, posts types include “what’s new”, “events”, “offers”, “products”.
Besides announcing and confirming the hours update, other types of Google Posts can help Pete boost customer engagement and frame up a competitive business strategy. However, to use posts efficiently, Pete would also need to know what the nearby businesses are promoting through their posts. Yet, manually checking updates for each business would take tons of time.
Fortunately, you can offer business owners like Pete an automation solution for swiftly checking competitors’ updates. Incorporating DataForSEO Google My Business Updates API, your tool will be able to surface the following info for each post shared by any business:
- Author (business name)
- Content of the post
- Link to the shared image
- Publishing data and time
- Links included in the post
For example, users of your tool could define several competitor businesses and a timeframe, and you would provide them with a unified dashboard containing data on Google Posts shared by these business entities between the dates of interest. Insights into competitors’ activity would give Pete many real-life benefits. In particular, he would be able to learn about new products or sales launched by a variety of his nearby competitors much faster and could come up with similar or beating offers to keep his share of customers.
In the fewest possible words
While Google has data on millions of business profiles and provides it in local search results for free, large-scale access to Google’s database is locked behind a high paywall.
DataForSEO APIs can give you the full power of this data at considerably lower costs. Here’s a price comparison table for a quick recap:
Google Places API
|Ranking data||$25 for 1K requests
up to 20 business listings
|$3 for 1K requests
can contain 100+ business entities
|Business data||$500 for 20K business entities||$60 or $6.2 for 20K business entities|
|Total price||$525||$63 or $9.2|
Spending less with Google Maps SERP API and Business Data API, you will be able to obtain even more than what’s offered by Google’s API, such as data on service area businesses, GBP categories and attributes, and place’s popular hours.
This business data from Google search brings forward enormous potential for competitor research. Using DataForSEO APIs, you can craft a powerful tool that will help local businesses not only resolve multiple problems but also identify new local market opportunities.
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