August proved a relatively stable month for enterprise brands as far as local search performance is concerned. While economists and analysts have expressed serious concerns about inflation and the potential for a serious recession, local consumer search behavior trends August 2022 presented exceeded those expectations in many ways.
On the local search front, we saw continued gains in average total searches and listing views for service and financial services businesses, month-over-month (MoM). Local search interest in both full-service and quick-service restaurants dipped in August after five consecutive months of gains. The wind-down of the summer travel season put a damper on hotel search performance too, and retail metrics slumped despite the sector outperforming analysts’ sales expectations. All verticals we study, with the exception of hotels, performed better across most metrics than in August 2021.
Each month, we anonymize and analyze the local search performance data of over 170,000 enterprise brand locations that use Rio SEO’s solutions for their local marketing needs. The insights we gather from these aggregated Google Business Profile (GBP) data points validate important industry-wide context. You can use these insights to better understand the trends you’re seeing in your own locations’ GBP reporting and see how your metrics fare against your competition.
After a few months of nominal gains, service businesses experienced an impressive lift across most local search metrics studied. Total listing views were up 10%, and total searches for service businesses were up 9% MoM. For this research specifically, service businesses include postal services, storage facilities, pest control, gyms, staffing agencies, and more.
Similarly to the month prior, clicks to call service businesses were down substantially as compared to last year when the informational needs of customers were far greater due to the ongoing pandemic. Despite the dip in clicks to call, clicks for driving directions were up 20.4% year-over-year (YoY) as more customers are now making their way back into physical business locations.
As many of these services are personal care services, this aligns with what others are seeing globally. The global personal care services market is expected to grow from $341.21 billion in 2021 to $409.38 billion in 2022, reflecting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20%. A CAGR of 12.4% through 2026 is expected to drive the personal care services market – consisting of beauty salons, diet and weight reducing centers, spas & massage, and other personal care services – to $654.51 billion by that time.
Local listings accuracy is essential and requires active bulk management across the enterprise. The quality and accuracy of local listings not only impact each location’s ability to rank in relevant local searches but is also an integral part of the local customer experience. Download a free copy of our Local Listings For Service Businesses ebook to learn more.
For the third month, financial services businesses saw slight increases in all local consumer search behavior metrics tracked. On a year-over-year basis, brands in this industry also saw a lift across nearly all metrics studied except for clicks to call. A decrease in clicks to call is not a cause for concern, as we’ve seen drops across all verticals for this metric. This aligns with an ongoing shift in consumer needs as more consumers feel comfortable visiting locations in person. Clicks to call rose significantly during the peak of COVID-19, as consumers sought more information about each branch or office’s services, closures, and hours.
Amidst ongoing inflation concerns and a possible recession, economic data for July came in better than expected. Nonfarm payroll jobs rose more than twice the consensus forecast, with 528,000 added to the workforce. Falling gas and energy prices offset increases in other consumer expenses, which had a cooling effect on inflation. In their economic outlook for Comerica, Bill Adams and Waran Bhahirethan reported, “While real GDP contracted slightly in the first half of the year, the economy also averaged 471,000 nonfarm jobs added per month through July. Job growth like that just doesn’t happen during a recession.”
This is a good time for financial brands to audit their local presence and ensure all customer-facing information in search is accurate, complete, and fully optimized for each location. Search is not only an avenue of discovery for new financial services customers but also an important aspect of loyalty and retention. As you continue to reevaluate and modernize your local marketing strategy, these resources are a great place to start:
- How Financial Services Brands Are Using Online Reviews to Build Trust
- Mastering GMB Attributes for Financial Services Brands
- Optimizing Google My Business Listings for Enterprise Financial Services Brands [E-Book]
After a banner month in terms of local search metrics in July, August told a different story for the restaurant vertical. Total listing views for full-service restaurant brands fell -14.5%, total searches by -13.5%, and total clicks on a listing by -10%. YoY, however, sit-down restaurants are still winning compared to August 2021. Total listing views were up 25% for August 2022 compared to 2021, total searches rose 13%, and clicks for driving directions increased 6%.
What enterprise brands are experiencing in local search is reflective of current industry-wide trends. Black Box Intelligence reported that while July continued the “widespread slowdown” in YoY sales and traffic growth across the restaurant industry, August marked the start of a rebound. The Consumer Confidence Index rose slightly after three straight months of decline. Sales by store grew 5.3%, up significantly from the 0.7% rate in July. “To further put this month’s rebound into context, March 2022 posted stronger year-over-year sales and traffic growth numbers because the industry was still lapping over months that were impacted by the pandemic,” the report stated.
This is despite declining guest counts, as same-store traffic growth fell 1.9% in August. As customers are visiting less but spending more, it’s as important as ever that restaurant brands are communicating the experience on offer clearly to prospective customers in search. Make good use of all possible GBP Attributes available to restaurant locations as these amenities and services feature prominently on each location’s business profile and can impact its visibility in local searches. See these local SEO best practices for restaurant brands to learn more.
Similarly to their full-service counterparts, quick-service restaurants also saw decreases across every metric we observed on a MoM basis. Total listing views for quick service restaurant brands fell -11.5%, total searches -11.1%, and total clicks on a listing -8%.
Quick-service restaurants experienced greater YoY growth in overall search interest than full-service restaurants, however, with total views up 33.1% and total search volume up 15.5%. Clicks for directions to a quick-service restaurant location also rose 10% YoY.
According to Black Box Intelligence, customers are choosing off-premise options, including takeout and delivery, more now than they did before the pandemic. As COVID concerns continue for some and others have these habits now ingrained, we can expect to see quick-service, takeout, delivery, and options, such as curbside pickup, remain strong.
However, the report warns that a preference for off-premise options doesn’t necessarily translate to greater satisfaction with the experience. The report stated, “Of the guests who described their off-premise experiences during the quarter, a larger percentage of reviews expressed a negative sentiment. Full-service restaurant segments received a -12% net sentiment score; while limited-service segments scored -33%.”
Online reputation management is critical for restaurant brands, particularly in this environment. Beyond physical proximity, reviews are a vital trust signal Google uses to determine which business offers the best solution for that searcher’s needs. Enterprise brands must be able to not only access reporting insights and review sentiment for all restaurants but ensure locations are responding promptly to new reviews, as well. Here are a few resources that can help:
- Why Local Reviews Matter in the Restaurant Industry
- 4 Industries Where Reviews Have the Biggest Impact on Revenue
- Is Your Brand Listening to Local Reviews? [On-Demand Webinar]
Hotel brands experienced MoM decreases in all local search metrics we measure. This drop is typical of the seasonal summer travel trend, which peaks in June and July and starts to slow down come August.
Compared to last August, total views and total searches fell dramatically by -15.6% and -33.5%, respectively. However, clicks for driving directions were up over 25.6% YoY. HospitalityNet reports that U.S. hotel room demand declined by 558,000 rooms the week of August 7 to 13 (compared to the week prior), and occupancy fell to 68.5%. Their experts expect occupancy to remain flat through Labor Day, then experience a “robust increase” through the end of October.
Hotel brands can expand their presence in local search by using GBP Attributes for hotel brands and even creating unique GBP listings for specific amenities. Four Seasons, for example, use an amenities-based local search strategy to achieve a 98.9% lift in local listings accuracy, 84% more phone calls, and 30% more spa bookings. See how they did it here. Make sure you also check out our Guide to Google Business Profiles for Hospitality Brands ebook (free download).
Enterprise retail brands experienced a dramatic increase (27.6%) in total listings views over last August, with a 5.2% bump in total searches, as well. Only total views and clicks for directions increased from July at 1.8% and 1.1%, respectively. Retail sales were better than expected, given widespread economic concerns. Retail sales were also lifted by back-to-school shopping, although analysts also credit a “big jump” in motor vehicle and parts dealer sales in keeping retail sales growth above expectations at just 0.3%.
Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for August 2022, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $683.3 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This marks an increase of 8.9% above last year.
Retail brands must prepare for an early holiday shopping season this year. In fact, it likely has already begun. Using Google Posts to share relevant, personalized offers and ensuring product availability is readily available via search will assist in converting online searchers to orders and in-store shoppers this season. These resources can help:
- How the Google My Business Product Approval Process Works
- 16 Strategies to Personalize the Local Search Customer Experience
- Webinar – Using Events to Drive In-Store Sales
After a month of decreases across local marketing metrics in July 2022, healthcare businesses saw a reversal in August 2022. All local search performance metrics we measure increased by single digits this past month, with clicks to call gaining the most at 8.7%. YoY healthcare brands saw their total search views rise 24.9%, total searches by 3.2%, and clicks for directions by 6.4%. Total clicks, clicks to call, and clicks to the website all fell. This could reflect that last August, more consumers were attempting to find vaccine locations and book their appointments.
COVID-19 cases began to slowly wane in August, a trend continuing into September. The latest rise in pandemic-related U.S. hospitalizations peaked in July and has been declining since then. Healthcare brands must meet local consumers in their decision-making moments with accurate, up-to-date location information across all local listings, social networks and review sites, local pages, and directories. Key business information, including hours of operation, appointment availability and booking links, services offered, address, phone number, and more, all impact which clinic, hospital, or healthcare professional the consumer may choose.
These resources can help modernize your enterprise healthcare brand’s online presence in local markets and ensure you’re achieving maximum visibility in search:
- Online Reputation Management for Regulated Industries 101
- COVID-19 & The Future of Local Marketing [E-Book]
- How to Implement Reputation Management Strategies at The Enterprise-Level (On-Demand Webinar)
After a month of declines in July, local marketing metrics improved for multi-family residential brands in August 2022. Though all metrics we track only saw single-digit improvements MoM, this is still a notable turn from July when every metric studied declined. On a YoY basis, clicks for directions rose substantially by 41.2%. Total clicks, clicks to the website, and total views all grew more than 20% YoY, as well.
Nationally, occupancy remained at 96% for the third month running. The average national asking rent is up 12.6% over last August, bringing it to $1,717. Across the country, there is a shortage of approximately 600,000 apartment units, continuing to fuel the imbalance driving demand.
Even so, multi-family residential brands are battling supply chain issues, inflation, and rising interest rates. Finding tech solutions to make the most of current market conditions and differentiate the brand from the competition remains challenging. Content marketing can help increase the brand’s local search presence by giving search engines more relevant assets to rank while feeding consumers’ need for an increasing volume of information to help them understand the experience each brand and building has to offer. Download a free copy of Local Content Marketing Strategy for Enterprise & Multi-Location Brands to learn more and put these insights to work for your business.
See more local search trends by vertical for previous months, and stay tuned next month for more in-depth local consumer search behavior insights.