As local consumer behavior continues to shift and evolve in unexpected ways, brands are having to assess local marketing metrics as near to real-time as possible versus relying on historical data. Regional reopenings, COVID case flare-ups, and vaccine availability are adding extra layers of complexity in already volatile local markets. In this post, you’ll find the consumer search behavior trends May presented, across 7 broad verticals.
We saw a bump in e-commerce adoption during the pandemic, and we expect this method of shopping to stay. But now, many people are comfortable with shifting back to in-person interactions. This is causing declines in clicks to website, clicks to call, and other Google My Business metrics that don’t reflect a lack of interest in the location but rather a change in how people engage with the business.
Rio SEO continues to track and analyze the GMB performance of over 200,000 business locations on a monthly basis across the US. Here’s what we found:
Business services locations enjoyed their third straight month of gains in local search performance with all tracked metrics up across the board. IT, SaaS, consulting, and other brands in the space saw the greatest increases this past month in total searches (11.1%) and clicks for directions (11.8%).
This rise in clicks for directions is good news for locations hoping to welcome clients and customers back into their physical space. Use health and safety attributes to help local searchers understand what is required of them when visiting in-person at each location (masks, temperature checks, appointment required, etc.) and to give them a sense of security about the steps you are taking to keep them safe.
Here, too, financial services customers are finding that with more people vaccinated and businesses more open, there is less need to call ahead to visit banks and so clicks to call are down again this month.
In fact, all financial services GMB metrics trended downward this month with the exception of clicks for direction at a 1.7% increase. It’s worth noting that the only vertical we track that did not see increased clicks for directions in May is Healthcare. This suggests good news for the general population, as visits to COVID testing and vaccine clinics had inflated these metrics in months prior.
Be sure you’re using all of the GMB attributes available to your primary finance category; for example, bank branches and insurance agents will have different options available to them.
Sit Down Restaurants
The local search performance metrics of dine-in (or patio service) restaurants tell a good story for May. Increased searches and views show a higher interest in dining out once again, while reduced clicks to call/clicks to website coupled with more clicks for directions suggests that diners are finding what they need in local listings and converting straight to a visit.
This is a continuation of what we saw in April — modest gains in conversion to driving directions and search interest coupled with reduced phone calls.
This is the time to ensure you have a local reviews monitoring and response strategy in place. Diners are eager to get back out in the world and share their experiences with others, and the impact of reviews on your local visibility should make this a top priority.
Quick Service Restaurants
Interest in quick service and takeaway foods has remained strong, and May marks the second month in a row for this category with gains in every GMB metric we’re tracking. Consumers are passionate about shopping local and supporting local businesses, and maybe more willing than before to forgo cooking at home more often than prior to the pandemic.
They’re getting choosier about who they choose to do business with, as well. Make sure all available fields and features are as complete as possible in each location’s GMB listing. Check yours against our Anatomy of a GMB Listing infographic to make sure you aren’t missing any opportunities to engage.
With hotel brands, we see a combination of seasonality and COVID-related factors at work. Local search interest in hotels exploded in March as spring break and increasing vaccine availability collided. April brought a more predictable seasonal trend of reduced interest as compared to March.
This past month suggests that consumers are not only searching and exploring their hotel options but making calls, visiting hotel websites, and getting driving directions in increasing numbers, as well. This is a great time to ensure your Local Pages are up to date, share photos of any property improvements or changes, add information about on-site amenities, and get active in sharing GMB Posts. See Best Practices for Local SEO for Hotel Brands as Travel Restrictions Ease for more tips.
After major increases in local search interest in March, retailers saw slight declines in some key GMB metrics in April and modest gains across the board this month. Although retail sales were down in May, increased searches and conversion actions indicate that local consumers are at least thinking of shopping local again versus having everything delivered.
You can bet consumers are reading reviews more than ever before heading out to shops, to see what kinds of experiences others are having in a post-pandemic retail environment. Make sure your franchisees, private owners, and corporate store managers alike are equipped with the tools and support needed to monitor and respond to each and every review as it comes in.
Declines in conversion metrics — clicks to call, clicks to website, and clicks get directions — make sense given the spikes in local healthcare search action we saw throughout the pandemic. The need to find testing facilities gradually gave way to searches for vaccine clinics, and now we’re seeing some settling in the healthcare search space.
Local listings accuracy is essential in all verticals, but especially in healthcare where posting the wrong hours of operation, having an incorrect map pin, or listing a specialist at the wrong location could have a serious impact on a patient’s ability to get care. Learn more about how healthcare organizations are improving local patient experience at scale here.
See more local search trends by vertical for previous months: