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Google Mobile Tracking

Google provides several special features in mobile search results and so we offer the following options that you can choose from to customize the type of search results you want to be tracked:
  • Organic
  • Apps Box
  • Top Stories
You can further customize mobile search results with custom location and business results settings, you'll find instructions in the Settings sections below.

Throughout this document we refer to Google Mobile SERP Features, if you would like to learn more, we invite you to visit our Visual Guide to SERP Features and select the Mobile option.


Mobile Organic Results

The most common type of Google mobile results tracked is organic.

Google Mobile Organic Results
In this example, the organic results are competing with SERP features for top positions including a Knowledge Panel, People Also Search For the panel, and People Also Ask causing users to scroll 3 screens down to reach organic results.

Mobile Results Type Setting: Organic
If you want to track organic results, then no changes to settings are needed because organic is the default setting. 

Rank Dashboard displaying Google Mobile Organic results
The Rank Dashboard has many results and feature settings to choose from, this is a view of the current rank compared to the previous day, week, and month. In the URL column, we see SERP icons indicating that some of Google's special SERP features were present for the keyword in the search results on the report date. Clicking the screen icon at the far right of any row launches the SERP Snapshot for the keyword. 

Organic Search Snapshot
The SERP Snapshot contains the actual search results displayed when the keyword was checked by our rank tracker. In this example, we see the Google SERP features: Knowledge Panel, People also search for (Direct Answer), Related Questions (People also ask), and an Image box, followed by 10 Organic results (the primary campaign domain is matched and highlighted in position 3), and Related Search phrases are displayed at the bottom.    

Mobile Apps Box Results

For those doing ASO, we've long offered Google Play Store and iTunes Store search engines for mobile app tracking. Google Mobile tracking of apps became more interesting - and important - when Google launched Apps boxes in mobile search results. This feature is not limited to the Google Play Store, Google also serves iTunes apps in these packs based on the device being used to conduct the search, and so we added a new mobile results type option to assist with app store optimization tracking.

Google Mobile Apps Box
In this example, searching for "ted talks app" on an android phone, Google provided 5 colorful results in the Apps box. 

Search Engine Mobile Results Type Setting: Apps
The Rank Ranger default when you add a Google Mobile search engine to tracking is Organic results, so if you want to track Apps then you need to:
  • Select the Apps option
  • Select the device type: Android or iOS 

If you want to track both Organic and Apps, then you can add a second Google Mobile search engine to the campaign by selecting a Google Mobile Local search engine (learn more...) and leave the custom location blank (unless you want to track the app for a specific location).

Required Campaign Settings
In order to track an App, the campaign domain (in General Settings screen) needs to be set to either:

Default tracking mode
must be selected in the General Settings screen

Target URLs must be utilized for all keywords in the Keywords screen (learn more...)
Apps Pack links contain referral data, for example, The Weather Channel has an app in the Google Play Store and when I view it that listing URL is:

The Weather Channel Android App

However, when I tap The Weather Channel app in Google's Apps Box from a search on my phone, the URL is:

And that can be different if the interface language is other than English (hl=en), and based on the referrer source at the time of the search.

When adding Target URLs for Android Apps in the Google Play Store, it is important to strip the URL down to the basics for the app and then add an asterisk * at the end - that creates a wildcard that will provide rank tracking results for any additional code added to the URL in the search results.*

App in Multiple Stores
If your App is in both the Google Play and iTunes stores, then you need to create a separate rank tracking campaign for each. You can combine reports for both campaigns in a PDF report or marketing dashboard. 

Rank Dashboard displaying Google Mobile App Box results

In this example the Targeted URL column display has been enabled in the Rank Dashboard, providing confirmation that the links to the Apps displayed in the mobile search results matched the App links entered as Target URLs.  We noticed AdWords in the search results for this app, so the Average CPC column has been enabled to provide an opportunity for analysis of cost for each keyword. And Landing Page Metrics for relevant social share channels were enabled to provide engagement stats.

Google Play Store search tracking is provided by adding a second search engine to this campaign, and they can be compared side-by-side in the Search Engines report, but for this example, we're using the Rank Dashboard because we want to show you the SERP Snapshot.

Apps Box SERP Snapshot
If you compare the SERP Snapshot to the mobile phone result at the beginning of this section, you'll see that the App Box results were in the first 5 display positions. The snapshot provides the additional results of that search which included a Related Questions (People also ask) section, 2 AdWords ads, and Related Search phrases.

Mobile Top Stories Results

This option is for tracking news results in Google's Mobile Top Stories box.

Google Mobile Top Stories Results
In this example, a mobile search for "samsung galaxy s9" produced 2 Top Stories, in addition to a mobile news carousel.  

Mobile Result Type: Top Stories
To track Top Stories, simply add a Google Mobile search engine to a rank tracking campaign and select Top Stories in the Mobile Result Type settings, and click the Save button.

Top Stories SERP Snapshot
The SERP Snapshot, accessed by clicking the screen icon at the end of any keyword row in the Rank Dashboard, provides page titles and links to the top news results in Google Mobile search, along with Image Box, Related Search phrases, and any other SERP features that Google displays in the mobile search results for the keyword. 

Learn more about tracking rank for Google Top Stories.

Add Mobile Tracking to a Campaign

In Campaign Settings > Search Engines
  • Select the Search Engine Country
  • Select Google Mobile in the Search Engine list
  • Click the Add button 

select Google Mobile search engine

Rank Tracking & Reporting Options
Click the Custom Location & Options button to access location, business, and result type settings.
For Mobile Results Type settings, please refer to the detailed information in the sections above.

mobile custom location settings

Custom Location Settings

Rank Tracking & Report Options

custom location setting

Click the Custom Location & Options button and complete these fields:
  • Custom Search Engine Name (optional): this displays in reports
  • Custom Location Settings: the search engine country has already been selected, you can target the location further by entering a state, city or postal code in any of these formats:
    • California: this narrows a USA search to the state of California
    • Miami, FL: this narrows a USA search to the city of Miami, Florida
    • 90210, USA: this narrows a USA search to a postal code within a city (in the US, it is necessary to add a comma after the postal code and include USA)
    • London: this targets a UK search to the city of London
    • WC1N: this targets a UK search to a specific postal code

Click the Save button
when you have finished customizing the search engine.

Business Results Settings

Default Setting
The default search engine setting for Business Results is that they are excluded from rank tracking.
  • Option 1:  Select Exclude from organic rank count if you don't want this campaign to report local pack or hotel pack in the Rank reports

    default business results setting

  • Option 2:  Select Exclude from organic rank count AND enter the Google My Business page name in the Business Name field if you want the business name tracked and reported in the Reports & Tools > Organic Search >Rank Tracking > Rank Insights - Local screen

    exclude rank but include business tracking

  • Option 3:  Enter the Google My Business page name in the Business Name field, and select the Include in organic rank count option if you want the local pack or hotel pack position considered as part of organic rank in the Rank reports

    Google My Business Title
    • Select the Include if Ranked option if you don't want the local pack or hotel pack included in the organic rank count when your business isn't found in the pack

If you choose Option 2 or 3 to enable Google My Business listing results reporting, then follow these instructions to enable tracking. 

Business Results Match
  • Select Exclude from organic rank count or Include in organic rank count based on whether or not you want local or hotel pack positions counted in organic rank (as described in the section above)
    • If Include in organic rank count is selected, and you only want the local pack or hotel pack positions considered in organic rank only when the Business Name is matched in the pack, check the Include if Ranked option.
  • In the Business Name field enter the Google My Business listing Title
    The Business Name must be the exact title that displays in the Google listing for the business location.
    Refer to the sections below for wild card options to accommodate Google business listings for multiple locations or business names.
Google My Business Title

Business with Multiple Location Listings
If the tracked domain has multiple Google business listings containing the same Business Name with location or service included in the title, use the (contains) option.
  • For example, by entering (Capital Grille), the Ranger bot will return Local Results for "The Capital Grille", "Capital Grille Wall Street", "The Capital Grille of New Orleans", etc.
Multiple business location pages

Company with Multiple Business Name Listings
If the Google Business Titles don't contain a common brand name, you can enter multiple business names in parentheses with a pipe between them.
  • For example, the Hilton Hotel in San Diego has a sports grill, lounge, and restaurant, so to track the Google Business page for each of the related properties, you could enter this in the Business Name field:
    (Hilton San Diego Bayfront)|(Fox Sports Grill)|(Odysea Lounge)|(Vela)
Multiple business name listings

Business Page URL (optional)
If the Google business listing has been optimized for a URL that is different than the campaign's primary URL, you may enter that URL in this field and we will use it as the landing page in your reports.
  • For example, if the website link on the Google My Business listing for a restaurant directs users to the reservations page, a menu, or a gallery of mouth-watering photos, you can enter that URL in this field. 
  • If the field is left empty, then the campaign domain URL will display in reports if the keyword ranks in Local Finder for the business name.
report landing page URL

In the above example, the search engine has been customized:
  • For search in Boston, Massachusetts
  • To include local pack and hotel pack results if the Google My Business listing title is "The Capital Grille"
  • To include the rank count along with organic results rank if the Google Business listing name is in the search results
  • To list a specific landing page URL in the rank reports when the Google My Business name is found in Boston based search results

Click the Save button
when you have finished customizing the search engine.

Learn more about Local Pack Results or Hotel Pack Results.

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