If you’ve noticed that clicks to your website — an important Google My Business conversion metric — are dropping, you’re not alone. This can seem particularly alarming for brands that have transitioned to e-commerce over the course of the pandemic, as lost clicks to site could result in reduced online sales.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that 2020 impacted local search data in ways that must be factored into any marketing performance evaluation.
Over the past nine months, we’ve tracked month-over-month changes in local consumer search behavior and also recently released a study of aggregate GMB performance data from 400 global enterprise brands.
Now, we’re sharing our comparison of local search volume and clicks to website data from the first half(1H) of 2019 to 1H 2021, so you have an accurate benchmark against which to compare your own data.
Local Searches Have Grown +154.9% Since Pre-COVID
Across all verticals in the 200,000+ locations we studied, local search volume has increased dramatically since before the pandemic. Although you may see these figures dropping month-over-month in your dashboard, it’s important to contextualize that data.
As of 1H 2021, total searches had increased 154.9% over the same period in 2019.
The informational needs of consumers exploded as the pandemic wreaked havoc on local listings with changing store hours, temporary business closures, reduced services, etc.
As vaccinations have increased and many regions have reopened, consumers aren’t having to turn to search quite as often as they did during the pandemic to find quick answers about nearby businesses.
Even so, their informational needs remain higher today than in the same period in 2019. It’s just as important as ever (and even more so) that you:
- Ensure that each of your locations has been assigned the most relevant Primary Category in GMB.
- Optimize all available areas of each location’s GMB listing.
- Use all available health and safety attributes — as well as vertical-specific attributes such as those for retail, financial services, or restaurants — to help searchers understand why they should choose your location over a competitor.
- Use high quality photos, videos, and Google Posts to enhance the appearance of each location’s listing in search and offer valuable, conversion-inducing information.
- Take advantage of new GMB features as they emerge to help your locations stand out in competitive MapPack results.
Clicks to Website Up 51.5% for Enterprise Brands
Our study of aggregate GMB data also revealed that consumers continue to search with intent and are converting to website visits at a much higher rate than before the pandemic.
Across all verticals except hotels, we noted that clicks to website have increased 51.5%.
Retailers have seen the greatest gains here, with clicks to website up 96% in 1H 2021 as compared to the same period in 2019.
To ensure you’re delivering on the experience local searchers expect when they’re on the go and looking for your website:
- Avoid using the brand website homepage URL in local GMB profiles. Connect searchers directly to the relevant local page, or the online ordering platform where they can take the next steps.
- Take advantage of linking options for your business type. For example, retailers can add a link directing customers to Place an Order. Restaurants might link to a page where the customer can make a reservation; healthcare clinics could link to the appointment booking page. Learn more about local links here.
Local Search Volume and Conversions to Site Visit Up Almost Universally
Here are our findings by vertical, expressed as the 1H 2021 gain or loss as compared to 1H 2019.
- +170% total searches
- +44% website clicks
- +181% total searches
- +54% website clicks
Sit Down Restaurants
- +128% total searches
- +48% website clicks
Quick Service Restaurants
- +173% total searches
- +30% website clicks
- +181% total searches
- -12.7% website clicks
- +187% total searches
- +96% website clicks
- +100% total searches
- +37% website clicks
These findings prove that local search is highly important right now, even more so than in 2019. Optimizing your local pages and listings should be a high priority on every brand marketing to-do list.