Home Blog How COVID-19 Has Changed Local Consumer Search Behavior [Infographic]

The Coronavirus pandemic is driving dramatic shifts in consumer behavior—that much is clear. Consumers are having to put more thought into everyday decisions such as where to shop, what time of day to visit a local store, or how to procure necessary items without having to go inside a store to get them. How are changes in the way we do business at the local level impacting consumers’ search behaviors? And what are the key takeaways businesses should focus on?

New data from our analysis of six months of local search data across 203,600 enterprise brand locations reveals just how COVID is impacting clicks to call, search views, and other key local search insights.

We’ve illustrated these findings in a brand new infographic you’ll find at the bottom of this post. But first, a few highlights.

Across the board, our research spanning March to September 2020 shows that search views are up across the board. This is as true for healthcare and quick-service restaurants, as you might expect, but also for the hotel industry where search views are up 163% despite a massive decline in travel and hospitality. 

Another surprising finding is in financial services, where search traffic and clicks to a website are up dramatically (at +195% and +40%, respectively). Yet clicks to call from search are up only slightly with a 19% gain. Our analysis shows that far more searchers—83% more—are choosing to click for driving directions, indicating that they are finding the information they need to convert to a visit in local search listings. 

This is in keeping with other industry research that indicates the adoption of self-service customer care has spiked since 2019 due to the Coronavirus. Customers want the information they seek to be readily available, mobile accessible, and prominently displayed in search. 

Other key findings from Rio SEO’s Local Consumer Search Behavior research include:

  • Clicks to call sit-down restaurants have declined, yet search traffic for this category is up 169%. Local consumers are looking for information to browse and may not necessarily have a single, quick-answer question to call the restaurant about. 
  • COVID-weary consumers are still displaying a great deal of interest in hotels. Hospitality brands can stand out with flexible booking options, cancellation policies and pre-sales prominently featured in their local listings and pages.
  • Clicks for driving directions to sit-down restaurants have increased 188% and to quick service restaurants by 106%. It is imperative that local restaurants have online/phone ordering, curbside pickup, and takeout options clearly visible. Make good use of GMB attributes for restaurants.
  • Clicks-to-call retail locations are up more than in any other vertical we evaluated, with 337% more clicks to call a store from a GMB listing. Consumers are picking up the phone to call and inquire about inventory, ask questions about social distancing, double-check store hours, and more.

Consumers are looking for reassuring, accurate information to help them understand how best to shop, dine, and do business with nearby businesses. Check out more consumer behavior insights below:

How COVID Has Changed Local Consumer Search Behavior infographic