Google Benchmarking: Is it the right score?

Google Benchmarking and Scoring


2014 saw the roll out of Google Benchmarking which let users measure their Web site stats against those in similar industries.

It seemed that for online marketers, Google Benchmarking answered to more than a few prayers.

Some even heralded it as a new way to spy on your competition.

Allegiant wasn’t so sure. So, we put aside the hype and took a closer look.

What is Google Benchmarking?

Google Benchmarking collects all your Web site data (visitors, pages viewed, channel traffic, etc.) and combines it with data from other ‘peer’ Web sites. Then shares that data set with other Google Analytics users.

Google benchmarking activation

According to Google Analytics Help, Google Benchmarking allows you to:

  • Compare Web site performance with those of other Web sites in that industry.
  • Pinpoint performance problems and estimate how to improve site metrics.
  • Gain insight into trends occurring across an industry.

How to Google Benchmark your site

Google Benchmarking is enabled through your Admin Account settings. From the Industry Category list, you chose the category that matches your business.

Unfortunately, Google’s choices don’t match with those developed by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).

Whenever a business is registered, the owner selects the most appropriate NAICS code description for its activities. This information is used by the Federal government to collect, analyze, and publish statistical data related to U.S. businesses and the economy.

B2B marketers have used the NAICS for decades. Being a private firm, Google unfortunately wasn’t obliged to follow the NAICS. This means you’ll have to choose a Google Industry category that is similar to your NAICS code. If you can’t find a match, you need to choose something more generic like Business and Industrial Markets or Other.

Building your Google Benchmarking report

Now you’re ready! Go to Reporting > Audience > Benchmarking: Channels and select your industry vertical (or its nearest equivalent).

Google benchmarking channels

Does this list look familiar? It’s because you’ll find nearly same one in Google Trends.

To prove it, we prepared a complete side-by-side comparison of Google Benchmarking versus Google Trends.

Online marketers use Google Trends because it shows how often specific keywords, subjects, and phrases are searched over a period of time.

It also groups similar search terms together (e.g. ‘shoe repair’, ‘cobbler’, ‘guy who fixes shoes’) as part of its semantic data collection.

What Google Benchmarking is good for

Connecting Internet traffic (Google Benchmarking) with the popularity of keywords (Google Trends) will not provide exact data for known competitors.

But seeing the bigger picture is always an advantage, and for this Google Benchmarking is a great tool.

Google Benchmarking can reveal the potential for growth industries and markets. It will even appraise the difficulty of trying to expand into those industries or markets.

One thing Google Benchmarking can’t tell you is how your competition across town is doing online. However, it can provide insights on primary and secondary competition — and that can lead to a competitive advantage for your business.

Why is this important?

For competitive advantage, you’ll need a variety of tools and resources to:

  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses;
  • Identify true competitors;
  • Target and attract more customers;
  • Grow your share of the market; and
  • Keep a sustainable competitive advantage.

Even though Google Benchmarking is easy to use, it could prompt some poor decisions based on a narrow slice of information — so don’t make it the only tool you use.


Up next: The Myth of Visitor Engagement»