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. But, how did local consumer search behavior trends July 2022 presented impact enterprise brands in other industries?
High-Level Local Consumer Search Behavior Findings For July 2022
July was a stand-out month in local search for multi-location brands in the sit-down and quick-service restaurant verticals, with double-digit gains in both search volume and average listing views.
Our data shows that ongoing month-over-month (MoM) and year-over-year (YoY) gains in average total listing searches and views across most verticals indicate consumer spending is not slowing down. This is despite the macroeconomic climate, including inflation and talk of a looming recession. Clicks to call were down YoY across all verticals as a year ago. At that time, COVID-19 concerns and questions continued to drive local consumers’ informational needs. In 2022, however, we’ve seen customers return to feeling comfortable shopping and engaging in person once again.
Retail metrics rebounded from June with MoM increases in average listing views +14%, searches +8%, and clicks +3%. However, it’s worth noting that GBP nsights do not differentiate between organic paid search activity. Increasing spending on paid search during back-to-school campaigns could factor into this month’s retail figures.
Let’s dive deeper into how local consumer behavior trended for each of the eight diverse verticals we study monthly.
Service businesses (including postal services, storage facilities, pest control, gyms, staffing agencies, and more for the purposes of our research) saw substantial gains in total business listing views (+31.9%), searches (+25.7%), and clicks for driving directions (+16.1%), when compared to July 2021.
Clicks to call service businesses continued their monthly decline trend we’ve been seeing the past few months, falling another 23.4%. Despite this, clicks for driving directions were up 16% YoY. While clicks to call were down, clicks for driving directions indicates a continued interest in visiting service business locations.
Gyms, in particular, have struggled to regain pre-pandemic momentum. Consumers have largely looked to outdoor activities for their physical fitness goals since the pandemic, with just 15.18% recently saying they believe a gym membership is the best way to achieve their fitness goals. That’s down a staggering 63.31% from the start of 2020.
The future outlook for the fitness industry is brighter, though. The industry is expected to grow 171.8% by 2028, with a growth rate of 33.1% per year. Gyms – and service businesses of all kinds – can make it easier for motivated consumers to find their locations by focusing now on local SEO best practices to help boost their search visibility.
Staying on course with May and June’s local consumer search behavior trends, financial services businesses continue to see marginal increases across most metrics. Clicks to call are the exception and fell 6.5% MoM and 17.8% YoY in July. Given the increases in clicks for directions, this seems to indicate that searchers are more comfortable simply navigating to a location than calling ahead with questions.
Concerns that a recession may be inevitable are causing great cause for concern among consumers. A Q2 GDP report shows that annualized spend in personal consumer expenditures actually rose 1%; however, experts fear that consumers’ staying power may soon run out.
In times of financial uncertainty, consumers’ informational needs tend to increase. We saw this at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers took to search to learn which businesses were open, what products were in stock, where they could access certain services, and more.
Financial services brands can prepare for a potential influx in consumer search behavior and phone calls by ensuring that:
- All local listings are as complete as possible and up to date.
- Locations make good use of GBP amenities available to financial services brands to differentiate the business in competitive search results.
- Google Business Profile Messaging is turned on and actively being monitored, alongside local reviews.
- Responses to FAQs are available to customer service agents and on local pages where consumers can access them.
Sit-down restaurant local marketing metrics experienced the most significant growth of the eight verticals we study every month. Total listing views, searches, and clicks to website all grew by double digits MoM. YoY growth was impressive too, with total listing views and searches up 40% and 30%, respectively.
Recent Black Box Intelligence insights reveal an interesting opportunity for dine-in restaurants in that demographics data suggests older patron visits have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. To better appeal to this demographic, consider maintaining curbside pickup services. Older generations may experience accessibility issues to a greater degree and have ongoing concerns about their susceptibility to COVID-19. This cohort values a truly socially distant curbside service where they are not required to go in-store to process payment and receive their order.
You can better connect with this audience in local search by using all available attributes for restaurants, offering up-to-date menus and online ordering on restaurant listings, and using Google Posts to promote special offers and deals for seniors. A local marketing partner with combined technology and service offerings can help achieve these optimizations at scale.
Quick Service Restaurants
The quick-service restaurant vertical continues to see improvements in local search performance, a trend we’ve seen persist over the past four months. Like sit-down restaurants, quick-service restaurants saw double-digit increases in listing views and searches MoM. YoY metrics also mirrored sit-down, with a 44% increase in listing views and a 30% increase in total searches.
Consumers crave personalization, and fast food customers are no exception. Quick-service restaurants can start with the basics and offer customers a secure profile in which their order history, primary preferred location, and menu favorites can be stored. This allows customers to quickly view their favorite items and reorder at the click of a button as they’re heading home from work, running the kids to afterschool activities, or grabbing a quick lunch. You can read more about the importance of digital ordering and personalization in this recent QSR Magazine article.
How you get customers to start their customer experience with your business often begins in local search. From each restaurant’s Google Business Profile listing, give hungry consumers multiple options to engage. You can use Google Posts for special offers and to highlight new menu items. Feature the location, team, and products in photos and videos. Use the website URL field in every GBP to send visitors to their closest location’s sign in and ordering page. Meet them in that moment with a choose-your-own-adventure experience that lets them choose their next step in the path to purchasing a meal.
Hotels saw MoM growth in every GBP performance metric tracked. This is to be expected, as July tends to be a popular travel month for summer travelers. Total views, total searches, and clicks to call all dropped substantially, from 14% to 31%, compared to last July.
However, this doesn’t translate to a loss of business; it’s an indicator of the changing informational needs of travelers. According to STR, demand rose 3.4 million rooms YoY the week ending July 16, marking the second-largest gain for this specific week since 2000. With 28.2 million rooms booked, it was the fourth-highest week for weekly demand since STR began benchmarking it 22 years ago. Weekly occupancy has now recovered to 93% the level in 2019.
HospitalityNet reports that the hottest hotel markets this summer include Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, and Nashville. Hotel brands experiencing a surge in demand must be equipped and staffed to meet searchers in their decision-making moments with up-to-date property photos and GBP amenities, Google Messaging to enable interaction with the hotel without leaving the search experience, and a robust local review monitoring solution and workflow to not only respond quickly but maximize the value of important customer feedback, as well.
Enterprise retailers enjoyed increased listing views in search this July, up 14.3% over June and 31.1% YoY. Clicks for directions rose 3.6% MoM and 11% YoY, as well, indicating there is still strong consumer interest in local retail locations.
However, consumers seem to be spending less. Retail sales volume stalled in July with marked declines in clothing and clothing accessories store (-0.6%) and department store (-0.5%) sales. Online sales jumped 2.7%, largely influenced by Amazon Prime Day on July 12 and July 13.
As economic uncertainty continues to plague the market, retailers should expect customers to be looking for specials, deals, and discounts. The Offers Google Post type can help locations gain additional visbility in competitive SERPs. Be sure to have a strategy in place for removing Posts too once they become outdated, to keep your promotions accurate and up to date.
A technology solution can enables permission-based content updates to facilitate local content creation, as well as publish and schedule coupons and events across the brand. Local events, activities, and coupons will be integral to your holiday marketing strategy this year as consumers look for ways to trim their budget.
Despite small increases in local consumer search performance in June, July saw contrasting results. Healthcare business’ performance metrics declined slightly across every metric measured MoM, making it one of the only industries we study to see declines across the board MoM this month(aside from multi-family residential, up next).
Healthcare performance figures weren’t all doom and gloom, though – not when compared to last July’s data. This year, healthcare brands saw a 31% increase in total listing views and a 13.54% increase in total searches YoY for July.
This may be due to new COVID-19 cases continuing to emerge. New hospital admissions due to COVID-19 are up again in the U.S., with over 31,000 admissions for the week ending July 11, according to the CDC. The organization predicts this upward trend will continue and projects up to 13,800 hospital admissions by Aug 5.
Multi-family residential brands saw large gains across nearly every metric measured MoM in June. However, July was a completely different story. The largest declines were in clicks to call, which dropped 15.4% MoM and 22.5% YoY. Clicks to the website were down substantially from July 2021 as well, falling 14.8%. The lone outlier this month was in clicks for directions, which were up 9.3% YoY (but still fell over 5% from June).
Housing prices and sales have been cooling in the face of rapidly increasing materials costs, rising mortgage rates, and concerns of an impending recession. Housing starts in the U.S. fell 9.6% MoM in July to an annualized rate of 1.446 million units, the lowest since February 2021.
The housing sector has been cooling down amid soaring prices of materials and rising mortgage rates, leading consumers to rent instead.
Mutli-family residential brands might turn their attention to student housing, one segment of the market that shows no signs of slowing down, according to recently released reports from Berkadia, RealPage, and Yardi Matrix. Brands can get in front of motivated student searchers by optimizing GBP descriptions and publishing Google Posts to make clear these rentals are available through your company. Augmenting organic search performance with paid ads may be a good short-term strategy too, especially in fiercely competitive markets.
See more local search trends by vertical for previous months and stay tuned next month for more in-depth local consumer search behavior insights.