We analysed 97,474 Google Business Profiles and here's what we found

9 novembre 2023

In 2020 we published "The 2020 Local SEO Benchmark Report". Our analysis of the state of local SEO in the Dutch retail sector. At the time, our conclusions were not too positive. About 75% of all business listings were incorrect or incomplete, less than 26% of retail chains had made a Google post, and only 8% answered reviews and customer questions.

Now, three years later, we've mapped the state of local SEO again, but this time we’ve expanded the scope of our analysis covering 36 cities in the Netherlands and Belgium, divided into 14 different industries.

In total, we collected and analysed data from nearly 100,000 business locations and over the last few months, we have analysed the results and are proud that we can now  share the report and the most important findings.

Let's dive into the key insights...

Local SEO Benchmark - Header

Here's how we did it

Our approach for the "2023 Local SEO Benchmark Report" was significantly greater than the 2020 report. We increased the dataset from 6 to 36 cities and from 6 to 14 retail branches, giving us a broader perspective. We analysed retailers in the Netherlands and Belgium (Flanders) on two pillars: Google Business profile optimisation and reputation management.

Our research had specific research questions:

  • How do the Dutch and Belgian retail sectors perform in terms of local SEO?

  • What is the degree of optimisation of the Google Business Profile listings?

  • Is reputation management being taken seriously?

  • What are the most striking differences between the 14 industries analysed?

  • Are there any discernible differences between the Netherlands and Belgium, and between the 2020 and 2023 benchmarks?

Using SEO Data partner Flipstream's Google Data Scraper,  we combined selected locations with relevant search terms, and then used SQL to analyse and categorise Google Maps search results based on industries.


What did we discover?

Total Optimisation Score

Despite some progress since 2020, it appears that more than half of business locations have an overall optimisation score of less than 50%. Only 19% achieve a score of 75% or higher. This demonstrates that retailers are not making optimal use of the (free) possibilities in Google Business Profile and that there is still plenty of space for improvement.

Difference in industries

Looking at the verticals, we see that banks score the worst in terms of local SEO, with an average optimisation score of 30%. On the other hand, the 'telecom' and 'electronics' sectors score best, with 57% and 59% respectively. In addition to the banks, there are the most opportunities for optimisation in the 'supermarket', 'car garage & car wash' sectors.

Netherlands vs Belgium

In terms of the differences between Dutch and Belgian companies, we see that Dutch retailers score slightly better on average than Belgians, with an average total optimisation score of 53% compared to 45%. Especially in the 'car garage & car wash' sectors, 'DIY store' and 'optician & hearing care professional', Dutch companies perform significantly better than their Belgian counterparts.

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Local SEO Benchmark

More than 50% are only slightly optimised, or not optimised at all

Although the optimisation scores in 2023 are on average higher than in 2020, more than 50% of the business locations surveyed are only slightly optimised, or not optimised at all. More specifically, 30% of all business locations have optimisation scores of below 25%. Only 19% of the locations analysed achieve an overall optimisation score of 75% or higher. These figures show that there is a significant opportunity for improvement in local SEO within the retail sector. If we look at specific optimisations, we see, for example, that a large number of business locations are missing additional categories in their Google Business Profile which means that potential customers receive limited information about the nature of the services offered, which causes reduced visibility in local search results.

Only 26% of business locations have ever posted a Google Post. So, the vast majority are not taking advantage of this free advertising opportunity.

It also emerged that a significant number of business locations do not make full use of the space available for a business description, and often add less than 10 photos, which affects the attractiveness of their profiles and conversion.

Another notable point is that a significant percentage of business locations do not use UTM tracking when placing a website link in their Google Business Profile, making it impossible to analyse the traffic to their website. In addition, a significant portion of business locations remain unclaimed, meaning that organisations do not have full control over their own locations' information.

Reputation management

More than half of the reviews (52%) are missing text and only have a star rating, resulting in reduced visibility for relevant search terms. In addition, 39% of business locations have a rating of less than 4.0 stars or no reviews at all, which can negatively impact their reputation and conversion.

The striking thing is that 88% of reviews with a score of less than 3 stars do not receive a response from the owner, which means that retailers are failing when considered in terms of customer service. Only 11% of business locations respond to a review at least once, indicating limited engagement with customers.

The differences in ratings by industry are striking, with companies in 'storage' and 'car garage & car wash' having the highest average rating, while 'banks' have the lowest. There are also differences between the Netherlands and Belgium, especially in the frequency of responding to reviews. The Netherlands is more active in 10 out of the 14 industries we analysed. The decrease in the percentage of business locations that do not respond to reviews at all (from 92% in 2020 to 88% in 2023) indicates that there has been some improvement in responsiveness. The increase in the number of reviews per business location is significantly higher in the 2023 Benchmark than in 2020, indicating growing customer engagement in sharing their experiences.

The most important conclusion: improvement is essential

Our analysis in 2023 shows that Dutch and Belgian retail chains still have room for growth in local SEO, similar to our findings in 2020.  While average optimisation scores are improving, more than half of business locations are still under-optimised.

Dutch companies show slight progress compared to Belgians, but in both countries, retailers can get more out of local SEO optimisations by adding categories and adding opening hours and photos.

In conclusion, local SEO in 2023 requires not only visibility but also active interaction with customers. Businesses that embrace this opportunity not only improve their online presence but also build a positive relationship with their target audience.

Local SEO Benchmark - Mockup

2023 Local SEO Benchmark Report

For the 2023 Local SEO Benchmark, we analysed nearly 100,000 business locations in 36 cities in the Netherlands and Belgium, across 14 different industries. Curious about how the retail sector in the Netherlands and Belgium is doing in terms of Local SEO? Find out in our 2023 Local SEO Benchmark Report .

Robin van der Sar
Robin van der Sar
SEO consultant

Robin is local SEO lead at iO. His passion for local SEO started 10 years ago when he led local SEO projects for SMEs. Over the years, his focus changed from SMEs to retail chains with dozens to hundreds of business locations at home and abroad. What remained unchanged is his love for local SEO and his drive to achieve the best local SEO results for his clients.

Clarissa_Filius - iO
Clarissa Filius
Teamlead SEO

Clarissa Filius, an experienced Senior SEO specialist, is known for her expertise in Local SEO. She currently works as Team Lead SEO, CRO and Marketing Automation at iO. With an impressive career spanning 10+ years, Clarissa delivers results for global brands, making her a respected authority in the field.

Publishers are permitted to use the charts and data in this report with credit to iO and a link to the URL of this article. If you have any questions about the report, please contact robin.vandersar@iodigital.com or clarissa.filius@iodigital.com.

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