Google Business Profiles (GBP) metrics are a key set of performance insights that, when combined with the context of industry trends as a whole, are made far more valuable for enterprise brands. That’s why each month, we compile and analyze aggregate GBP performance data from over 200,000 U.S. business locations and share these local consumer search behavior trends with you. This month, we will break down the consumer search behavior trends November 2021 presented.
In November 2021, we saw that GBP actions were down across all verticals, with the exception of healthcare views which increased 7.69% (marking a small increase over October).
The surfacing of Omicron has undoubtedly played a role in the shifting consumer behaviors we are seeing. On November 26, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified a new variant, B.1.1.529, as a Variant of Concern (VOC) and named it Omicron. On November 30, 2021, the United States also classified it as a VOC. On December 1, 2021, the CDC announced that the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant had been detected in the United States and as of December 9, 2021, 23 states have announced cases of the variant.
Case numbers are on the rise as the weather gets colder and people gather indoors, which is raising concerns as we head into the holiday season. The 7-day moving average of daily new cases from December 1–December 7, 2021 (118,515) increased 37.3% compared with the previous 7-day moving average (86,315) from November 24–November 30, 2021, according to the CDC COVID Data Tracker.
Let’s take a look at how these health-related risks impacted Google Business Profile performance in a variety of sectors in November.
Local search performance metrics in the service businesses category declined slightly this month, although the year-over-year (YoY) gains are still strong. Clicks to call saw the greatest decline at -11.88% last month. Total searches and search views are both up dramatically over the same period in 2020, at +81.47% and +82.61%, respectively.
Service businesses are a vertical to continue to monitor closely going forward. The emergence of new variants and increasing safety measures, government regulations, and travel warnings are likely to impact consumer willingness to visit these types of businesses.
The financial services vertical experienced a more significant downturn in November than in months prior, possibly related to rising inflation. The Labor Department reported that producer prices rose at a record pace in November, resulting in a 0.8% monthly increase (which was above expectations of a 0.5% increase).
The 9.6% annual rate of increase was the highest for the series dating back to 2010 and exceeded expectations of a 9.2% rise. The reading on wholesale prices follows last week’s measure of consumer inflation that showed prices rose at an annual rate of 6.8% last month, the fastest pace in nearly 40 years.
As far as the impact of these factors on local search behavior, we see that total search and search views are each down over 12%, with each type of conversion action down between 8%-10%.
Restaurants have made significant gains this year compared to 2020. However, their performance in local search continues to fluctuate on a month-to-month basis.
64% of consumers said that they don’t anticipate returning to their pre-pandemic habits of dining in restaurants within the next 6 months, according to Deloitte’s Future of Restaurants Survey. Further, 33% of customers said enhanced cleanliness and safety will make them more likely to return to on-premises dining sooner and to dine out more frequently.
Major gains in YoY total searches and total views must take into account the fact that last November indoor and outdoor dining restrictions, such as those imposed in the State of California, kept search interest in restaurants low. The figures we’re seeing now are not an indicator of massive new interest; rather, this is part of the industry’s slow recovery. Given the current environment, we should expect to see more fluctuation in the months ahead.
Quick Service Restaurants
Deloitte also found that 37% of customers prefer drive-throughs for restaurant ordering. And again, we must consider the context of the state of the world last November to put these YoY increases in search interest in perspective.
We’ve seen consistent declines across most local search metrics for the hotel industry this autumn. The hospitality industry experienced -22.86% fewer local searches and 28.87% fewer search views this November than last, and double-digit decreases in all tracked conversion metrics.
However, the outlook heading into the holiday season may be a bit brighter as Amadeus expects that for the last two weeks of the year (Dec 19 – Jan 1), occupancy rates in the US will exceed 2019 rates with 28.7% total occupancy versus 23.6%.
Local consumer search interest in retail continues to build on the back of multiple months of growth. Clicks to call and for directions fell only slightly, while total searches, search views, total clicks, and clicks to website all rose.
The outlook is bright though as the National Retail Federation says that spending in November and December could grow as much as 11.5% compared with the same period a year ago. This is higher than many retail analysts and NRF itself had predicted earlier.
Hospital systems are struggling with rising cases and hospital admissions among the unvaccinated, with the Delta variant and now Omicron expected to worsen the situation. The current 7-day daily average of new hospital admissions in the U.S. was 7,441, marking a 15.9% increase from the prior 7-day average of 6,419.
It’s no surprise then that search interest in local healthcare is up dramatically as consumers search for vaccine clinics, COVID testing facilities, and other healthcare services.
Rents grew by 0.1% in the month of November, which was the lowest month-over-month growth rate of 2021. The pace of rent growth has been cooling rapidly for the past few months; even so, growth is still outpacing pre-pandemic trends, with the slight uptick this month coming at a time of year when seasonality normally causes prices to dip.
Interestingly, clicks to website are down over 15% YoY. This could be indicative of less browsing online as consumers are freer to move about and visit properties in person than in November of last year. If so, we may see a reversal of this trend in December’s data as Omicron and Delta variants continue to cause concern.
See more of our local search trends by vertical for previous months: