Each month, we analyze the search performance and conversions from over 200,000 enterprise brand locations Google Business Profiles (formerly known as Google My Business and now referred to as GBP for short). These industry-wide trends can help inform not only your local search strategy but your content strategy, ad targeting, SEO campaigns, and more. This month, we focus on the consumer behavior trends October 2021 presented.
In the blog post, you’ll find vertical-specific insights into how the search views, clicks to call, clicks for driving directions, and other key metrics are trending for multi-location brands like yours for eight diverse verticals.
One major change that should be taken into consideration for all verticals when comparing 2020 to 2021 figures is the current rate of vaccination in the U.S. As of October 6, 55.2% of Americans were fully vaccinated, with another 8.8% having received at least one dose.
As a result, both COVID cases and consumer anxiety are lower and continue to trend downward. This is great news for previously hard-hit verticals such as restaurants, hotels, service businesses, and financial services brands alike.
Let’s dig into these performance metrics in October 2021 by category and see what local search trends may be impacting your business.
Service business figures recovered slightly in October from a tough July through September, with the exception of clicks to call. Year-over-year (YoY) figures show an even greater recovery, with double-digit increases across nearly every metric we study.
As a greater number of Americans become vaccinated each month, more, in turn, feel comfortable resuming everyday activities and public exposure. This may include going to hair salons, gyms, and other service businesses included in this vertical.
Financial services metrics saw little month-over-month (MoM) fluctuation when compared to September. However, the YoY recovery in total views and total searches continues, which is similar to what we saw when comparing September 2020 and September 2021.
YoY declines in calls and website clicks are expected. These metrics were quite elevated last year as clients called or clicked through to gain deeper information on closures, online banking options, and other COVID-related information.
Sit-down restaurant MoM figures are rebounding from a dip in September. The year-over-year change of seated diners in restaurants in the U.S. in 2020 was down 17% as of September 22, 2021, which aligns with lower MoM figures.
Seasonality also plays a factor in restaurant sales. Warmer months tend to attract more tourism and outdoor dining. September marked the end of summer, kids going back to school, and cooler weather for some cities. Even so, the restaurant industry as a whole experienced a strong rebound in sales and traffic growth the last week of October, with the strongest results in 4 weeks, along with increased sales for the long Columbus Day weekend mid-October.
Restaurants are enjoying growth in check size, as well, with a growth rate of 5% or greater consistently over the last 7 weeks.
Quick Service Restaurants
Quick service restaurants’ figures saw limited increases and decreases in October when looking at MoM gains and losses. According to Black Box Intelligence, casual and upscale casual establishments have been hit hardest by the lost dinner sales caused by Halloween falling on a weekend.
Even so, YoY local search performance continues to improve for Quick Service Restaurants, as with their sit-down counterparts.
“The pandemic helped show the resilience of the fast-casual segment. These restaurants were already built on having one-third of customers dining indoors, one-third carrying out and one-third ordering for delivery and catering,” Dan Rowe, CEO, and founder of Fransmart, explained in a recent interview.
“Comparatively, the full-service segment was built on having 90% dine-in customers, and these restaurants weren’t as adept at adapting to off-premise-only service,” he continued.
Similar to the drops seen in September at the end of peak travel season, the hotel industry saw minimal movement across all metrics when compared to September. The small increases may have been lifted by the Columbus Day holiday weekend.
U.S. hotel performance rose to a level similar to late-summer, according to data benchmarking company STR‘s latest report through October 9. Week-over-week demand growth came almost exclusively from the Sunday ahead of Columbus Day, they said, noting that occupancy reached 72% – down just 3% from 2019 – on the three-day holiday weekend (Oct. 8–10).
In GBP, YoY metrics continue to show a rebuilding for the hospitality industry, one of the hardest-hit throughout the pandemic.
Retailers saw the greatest gains when comparing MoM GBP performance, with double-digit increases across the board. This increased interest translated directly to sales, with the Census Bureau reporting a 17% growth in retail sales for October. This is great news for the sector, which had previously been expected to
This is likely due to both increased consumer confidence and eager holiday shoppers opting to get an early start on the 2022 shopping season. Retailers also saw a lift across all metrics when comparing YoY data.
Total clicks, total searches, clicks to call, and clicks to website were down MoM for healthcare brands. This may be attributed to a slowing in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Experts expect vaccine uptake will continue to slow as half of parents now say their teen has been vaccinated or plans to do so right away, while the rate has already slowed in adults.
YoY healthcare metrics continue to surge. After a hectic start to 2020, by October, healthcare office visit volumes had essentially returned to normal and telemedicine use showed signs of declining. Even so, consumers are still looking for places to get vaccinated and tested for COVID-19 and to catch up on appointments and tests that may have been postponed at the height of the pandemic.
GBP performance metrics for multi-family residential brands are down slightly from September but mostly remain strong YoY. One metric of note is the 16.1% reduction in clicks to website as compared to October 2020, which could indicate that searchers are finding more of what they need on the listings themselves.
The 15% YoY increase in clicks for directions seems to suggest searchers are more comfortable simply navigating to the property than they were a year ago, as well, which makes sense given the climate of COVID at that time.
Average rental prices are up for both short and long-term rentals across the nation, with one and two-bedroom apartments up approximately 20% each. Homes for sale inventory has been low throughout the pandemic, keeping renters who may have intended to buy in place.
See more local search trends by vertical for previous months: