Are the consumer behavior patterns you’re seeing in each of your location’s Google My Business (GMB) insights keeping in line with broader industry-wide trends? Benchmarks help give local search insights context, which is why we’ve been sharing GMB insights each month from the 200,000+ U.S. enterprise locations we monitor.
This month, we’re adding new benchmarks to help guide your local marketing decisions. These benchmarks will include:
- Year-over-year aggregate GMB insights
- GMB performance benchmarks for the Multi-Family Residential vertical
Let’s see how consumer actions in local search trended throughout July 2021 and compared to July 2020.
While local search interest in IT, consulting, and other services were fairly steady in June, July reflects a decreased interest in business services across all metrics measured. One factor surely in play is the recovery of the travel industry across the United States. Short-term rentals occupancy hit a record high in June, according to the U.S. Travel Association, and two-thirds of Americans indicated they felt comfortable with summer travel plans.
Year-over-year figures show a marked recovery in local search views and total searches, with 23.5% and 63.5% gains over July 2020, respectively.
Conversion actions — clicks to call, for directions, and to visit the website — are all down substantially from July 2020. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean reduced interest in banking, mortgage, and other financial services.
Last summer, brands were faced with widespread shutdowns and many implemented online booking and appointments. Reduced conversion actions from local search may indicate that the informational needs of these consumers are not as great as when office hours and service delivery methods were rapidly changing due to the Coronavirus, and they’re returning to business as usual. In fact, total local search volume for these brands is up 48.9% over last July.
Local month-over-month search metrics gains of 2% to 10% seem dwarfed by a massive resurgence in local search interest as compared to July 2020. Again, a reduction in clicks to call and clicks to website seems to indicate that consumers didn’t need to contact restaurants as often to order for takeout (when dining rooms were closed), check for changes in hours of operation, inquire about reduced menu availability, etc.
Instead, a 52.9% YoY increase in clicks for driving directions suggests that American diners are finding the information they need in local listings to convert and simply need to make their way to the restaurant.
Quick Service Restaurants
We see a similar trend in the July 2021 local search metrics for quick service restaurants, although here we see a slight reduction in local search volume as compared to June.
Calls to quick service restaurants from local search listings are down 30.3% from July 2020, when it was best to call ahead to order or ensure the location was open. Total local searches and listings views are up markedly at 68.9% and 55.6%, respectively.
The hospitality industry’s recovery from the devastating impacts of COVID-19 continues and this month, we see both month-over-month and year-over-year gains across the board.
The U.S. hotel occupancy rate reached its highest level since 2019 at 69.6%, and travelers are spending more to stay, as well. STR reports that the average daily rate reached an all-time high with the top 25 markets in the U.S. experiencing lower occupancy but higher daily rates overall.
The recovery in retail continues and here, we see the same YoY increases in search volume and views paired with reduced clicks to call and greater clicks for directions as we saw in the restaurant industry. As vaccines continue to roll out and businesses reopen (and stay open), customers are searching for the things they need nearby and finding enough information to simply go to the location.
Even so, they aren’t spending as much. Bloomberg reports that U.S. retail sales fell 1.1% in July, more than experts had forecasted. Declines in motor vehicle sales and e-commerce contributed to the decline, and Bloomberg notes that higher prices may be depressing discretionary spending.
Last month, we saw local search metrics for healthcare trend upward across the board, which continued in July with the exception of clicks for driving directions. As Americans seek out vaccines and COVID testing, we see that all local search metrics save for clicks to call are up substantially year-over-year.
Local search metrics fluctuated moderately, under 6% either way, from June to July 2021. However, year-over-year figures show dramatically increased interest in multi-family residential with total view, total local searches, and clicks for directions all up from 47% to 51%.
While some experts speculate that we may be experiencing a housing bubble (and others disagree), it’s clear that the red-hot housing market is driving increased rental interest. Another factor could be that renters who held off moving during the height of the pandemic are finding their opportunity to make a move now.
Putting Consumer Search Behavioral Trends to Work for Your Brand
What do all of these insights tell us?
First, it’s important for multi-location brands to have both a high-level view of local search performance and the ability to get granular. Individual location insights are key to maximizing the local visibility of each one in search. At the brand level, an aggregate view helps you identify top and weak performers, replicate successes, and capitalize on regional or service/product area trends.
And, at the industry level, these insights bring clarity and help inform potentially impactful local marketing decisions. See Mastering Local Marketing Reporting to learn more about measuring KPIs across each of your locations and overall at the brand level.
Next, it’s more important than ever that local listings are accurate, up to date, and as complete as possible:
- Take advantage of new features in GMB and Yelp as they come out to improve the appearance and engagement of each listing.
- Use local social media to engage consumers, support customers, and build local visibility with a robust reviews profile.
- Keep on top of Google algorithm updates. You don’t have to become an expert in SEO but should be aware of potentially impactful updates in order to prepare.
See more local search trends by vertical for previous months: