Monitoring Google Business Profile insights on a regular basis can give important context to consumer behavior trends and how the economy, healthcare concerns, and other external factors contribute to your sales. For most businesses, fluctuations in sales are often predictable, given holidays, peak seasons, and more. However, the past two years were nothing short of predictable. That’s why we’ve monitored 2021 Google Business Profile insights and 2020 insights to monitor and assess trends over time.
Your business’ Google Business Profile insights were likely far from typical in 2020 and 2021. No matter the industry, every business was and continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. But, by keeping an eye on your local marketing metrics at a regular cadence and tracking against your competition, you can gain a better understanding of commonalities in the industry or if you have a larger issue at hand.
Business Profile Metrics Measured
Over the past two years, we’ve closely monitored Google Profile Insights for eight diverse verticals and over 170,000 national business locations. These insights include:
- Clicks on a Map Pack listing
- Clicks to a website
- Clicks to make a phone call
- Clicks for driving directions
- Local organic search volume
- Local search (Map Pack) views
- Direct local search volume
- Discovery local search volume
We monitor these insights consistently on a monthly basis, comparing month-over-month and year-over-year trends.
Analyzing Business Profile Listings at Scale
Recently, we expanded our analysis to review trends by month and by year for service businesses, financial services, sit-down restaurants, quick-service restaurants, hotels, retail, healthcare, and multi-family residential during 2020 and 2021. These insights will help inform and strengthen your 2022 local marketing strategy and may shed light on how your business stacked up against others in your vertical.
To help break down our findings, we assembled a panel of digital marketing and SEO experts for a webinar. Their insights will help provide key takeaways for your business withstand and weather future catastrophic events that could significantly impact your business, such as the pandemic did for many.
Here is what they had to share during the webinar.
Overall Local Trends
Overall when looking at a comprehensive view of all metrics measured, we saw metrics closely mirroring all of the major COVID-19 themes, such as:
- Upticks when the COVID-19 vaccine became widely available
- Upticks when mask restrictions are lifted in most states
- Declines at the start of the pandemic around March 2020
- Declines when the Omicron variant sweeps the nation around late November 2021
Our panel notes that pre-pandemic, clicks to websites from a local listing weren’t a metric that most verticals saw a ton of traction. Throughout the pandemic and beyond, clicks to websites are now an important metric for most businesses to measure with the advancement of e-commerce and online ordering.
Conversely, driving directions were once the main indicator of if a consumer had the intent to visit and transact with a local business. Driving directions now isn’t a sole indication of a consumer’s interest to interact with a business. In fact, in 2021, e-commerce accounted for an estimated nearly one-fifth of retail sales worldwide. Forecasts indicate that by 2025, the online segment may account for nearly a quarter of total global retail sales.
There is a silver lining for all brands though. 43% of webinar attendees are seeing their local marketing metrics continue to improve in 2022, which shows promise that after two difficult years for many industries, a comeback may be in store this year.
Service Businesses Search and Conversion Trends
For the purpose of our study, service businesses largely account for personal care services, including gyms, salons, barbershops as well as postal services. All of these business types were among the first to truly shut down at the onset of the pandemic.
Such was reflected by a massive dip in local marketing metrics around March 2020. Once in-person restrictions began to ease, understandably, there was a massive demand for these services. Conversion metrics continue to trend higher than pre-pandemic figures as 2022 progresses.
Financial Services Search and Conversion Trends
For the financial services vertical, which includes national banks, regional banks, mortgage lenders, credit unions, and insurance companies, metrics largely fell in line with economic activity. This includes the disbursement of multiple stimulus checks in both 2020 and 2021, falling mortgage rates, refinancing, and a booming housing market.
Our financial services brands collectively saw searches and local listing views up 76% year-over-year in April of 2021, which aligns with consumers gaining more trust in the economy.
Sit-Down Restaurants Search and Conversion Trends
Of all eight of the industries we studied and discussed during the webinar, sit-down or full-service restaurants saw the most volatility in terms of local metrics.
Amid logistical challenges, supply chain issues, a staggering increase in the price of food, and staffing concerns, restaurants to no surprise endured constant setbacks beginning in March 2020. Additionally, some restaurants had not yet adopted online ordering or delivery methods prior to the pandemic. Business models had to completely shift for many restaurant brands.
The outlook for restaurant brands continues to slowly trend towards business as usual. At the end of 2021, we started to see their local metrics trend back to where they were pre-pandemic, including clicks for driving directions.
Quick-service restaurants had the right logistical model in place to overcome pandemic hurdles. Relying mostly on grab and go, or fully takeout service options, customers had less friction when ordering with quick-service restaurant brands over the last two years. As such, clicks on quick-service local listings didn’t dip as much as sit-down restaurants, aside from the month of March 2020 when massive uncertainty plagued every vertical.
By December of 2021, listing searches, views, and clicks were all up to nearly the same pre-pandemic figures for quick-service brands.
Retail Search and Conversion Trends
Alternative fulfillment methods, traditional e-commerce, buy online pick up in store, and curbside pickup has become common practice for retailers. Brands that won at the start of the pandemic already had these logistics in place. For example, Target already had the logistical capacity to do same-day delivery, curbside pickup, and drive-up delivery services. Due to these pre-existing services, Target saw one of their greatest years in sales yet despite the pandemic.
Consumers want and expect this same level of convenience they’ve become accustomed to over the past few years. Retail brands must ensure they have the correct attributes selected on their Google Business Profile to reflect these new services any time a consumer searches for their business.
Healthcare Search and Conversion Trends
Our panel agrees that consumers value their time now more than ever. This is reflected in new services offered in nearly every business vertical, including healthcare providers. Providers can now see more patients throughout the day with telehealth appointments and patients, in turn, can avoid lengthy waiting room times and be seen by a practitioner sooner.
Despite an initial dip in local metrics in March 2020, healthcare businesses saw a large spike in search interest well throughout the 2020 year. This traction continued into 2021 as medical needs persisted well through the end of the year.
Hospitality Search and Conversion Trends
Sit-down restaurants weren’t the only vertical to experience turbulence with their local search performance. Similar to restaurants, hospitality brands saw staggering declines in 2020, with consumers unable and unwilling to travel. U.S. hotel room occupancy was at 57.6% (-12.6% from 2019), the average daily rate was at $124.67 (-4.8% from 2019) and revenue per available room $71.87 (-16.8% from 2019).
Despite growing pandemic concerns, consumers were still eager to get back to some form of travel in 2021. In 2021, U.S. scheduled service airlines carried an increase of 83% more passengers from 2020 and a decrease of 27% fewer passengers from 2019. Total clicks and clicks for driving directions skyrocketed from pre-pandemic levels in the summer of 2021, indicating summer travel interest.
Google has since enabled Posts functionality for hospitality brands. Our panel suggests hospitality brands should add Posts to share how their hotel is currently operating in terms of health and safety procedures. Hotels should also showcase their attributes in their local listing, especially as consumers begin to plan their summer travels.
Multi-Family Residential Search and Conversion Trends
Multi-family residential customers faced waves of uncertainty in 2020, unsure of their unemployment and landlords were unsure of if they’d receive money from renters. For the second quarter of Q2 in 2020, we saw listing searches, views, and clicks collectively drop.
Then as career certainty stabilized and remote work became the norm, in June 2020 we saw a massive comeback for multi-family residential clients. This momentum was only temporary though, and remained mostly steady throughout 2021, until the end of the year when rent interest typically sees a downfall.
Find even more key takeaways from our Local Consumer Search Behavior Study by downloading the free whitepaper.