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Top GMB Insights Trends Enterprise Brands Need to Know via @sejournal, @martinibuster



New research from Rio SEO shows dramatic effects on local search and offers insights into how to be more effective in monitoring search habits at the local level and leverage those changes for better economic performance.

Rio SEO tracked consumer trends across over 200,000 locations in a range of verticals.

The report covers these categories.

  • Business Services
  • Financial services
  • Sit-down restaurants
  • Quick Service Restaurants
  • Retail
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Massive Impact


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It’s widely known that the impact on business was massive. But this new research shows how the pandemic affected website clicks, click to call, and clicks for driving directions.

According to Rio SEO:

“Without question, COVID-19 had a massive impact on the local search landscape in 2020. Across the over 200,000 locations in all verticals that Rio SEO tracks, local searches were volatile, with initial drops, recovery, more volatility, and a gradual return to pre-pandemic levels.

The verticals that were able to pivot to respond to the uncertain economic climate weathered the pandemic storm better, but no sector was left untouched and unaffected.”


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Total Views

All verticals experienced drops in total views from February through April.

Other metrics also reported declines but it was total views that had the biggest declines.

Recovery began in May and by the fourth quarter all metrics stabilized at similar percentages of growth and decline.

Click to Call

Click to Call was a big performer during the pandemic.

The increase “skyrocketed” in March mostly across the board in all verticals, peaking in April and May 2020.

The phone call clicks metric was particularly volatile for most verticals, it ended the year at a higher rate year over year for sit down restaurants.

Financial Services

Financial services experienced a significant decline in views from March through May, at which point it has continued to rise. But it has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

However total searches and clicks have fared better, ending the year higher than the pre-pandemic January 2020 figures.

Business Services

Business services suffered the during the pandemic, no doubt a result of the work from home phenomenon.

Business Services Local Search TrendsSource: Rio SEO internal data for 141 enterprise brands (100+ locations), January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020Business Services Local Search Trends

According to the Rio SEO report:


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“What started as a strong year in terms of views plummeted in March, only beginning to regain traction in June.

Local searches and views took a huge hit in March and April 2020. The business services vertical recorded the largest percentage changes for all metrics, rocketing up in most metrics in May 2020.”


Some studies have noted that the pandemic hit the restaurant business harder than other sectors.

During normal times restaurants operate under pressure, particularly smaller startup restaurants that experience a failure rate of approximately 27%.

The additional pressure from the pandemic emphasized the importance of being able to pivot in response to changing conditions.


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Rio SEO noted:

“…views and clicks were down all of 2020. Only clicks to phone calls and clicks to website metrics have surpassed pre-COVID metrics.”

Restaurant Sit-down Restaurants Local Search TrendsSource: Rio SEO internal data for 141 enterprise brands (100+ locations), January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020Restaurant Sit-down Restaurants Local Search Trends


Retail was one area of local that was able to keep performing during the pandemic.


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Clicks saw the smallest dips compared to other sectors and the rising trend in clicks continues to grow.

“From October-December 2020, total views had surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Total searches have also been trending upwards, reaching their peak in December 2020 due in large part to holiday shopping. Of all verticals, retail experienced less turbulence than other verticals affected by COVID-19.”


Healthcare started the pandemic with declines just like other niches.

However, the sector as a whole has continued to regain views and searches beginning in June 2020.

Clicks and to phone calls and to websites did exceptionally well and nearly reached pre-pandemic levels.


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The hospitality sector was crushed at the beginning of the pandemic but managed to stage a modest rebound beginning in June. But the trends were indicative of fewer consumers.

According to the report:

“By June both searches and views started making a slow comeback, and have remained steady since.

While fewer consumers may have been searching and viewing hotel listings, the ones who were were taking action in the early part of 2020 and then again July through September.”

Local Search & Consumer Behavior

It’s clear that the pandemic caused long lasting changes to user behavior in how users were interacting with maps and business listings to contact and do business with local businesses.


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What’s of particular interest in terms of a takeaway is that it’s important to monitor user behavior in order to better respond to swiftly changing local search consumer trends.


Search Engine Journal readers can download the full report for more insights:
An In-Depth Analysis of Google My Business Insights Trends in 2020


Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster



Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”


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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.


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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.


Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

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