Local SEO insights for multi-location businesses

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When you think of ‘local SEO’, many people assume it’s mostly for small, local businesses but they couldn’t be more wrong. It also plays a hugely important role for large businesses that have multiple locations across the UK (or further afield). So keeping abreast of local SEO insights is critical to ensure your SEO strategy is moving in the right direction. Let’s take a look at what’s happening in the field.

Local search behaviours

Last year, local SEO software provider RIO SEO published its 2021 Local Search Consumer Behaviour Study, which analysed users’ local search habits and the impact of Covid-19. It found that 90% of people searching for businesses in their local area were looking to make a purchase – either immediately or within seven days.

90% of people searching for businesses in their local area were looking to make a purchase


This shows how strong purchase intent is for local searches and the importance of being discoverable in every location. The same study finds 73% of local searchers aged 40-50 years old are looking to complete a purchase within 48 hours and 63% of local searchers aged 24-39.

According to a study published by Backlinko, almost half (42%) of local searchers click on results showing inside the Google Maps pack. That tells us the local results in the Google Maps pack have a combined CTR of 42%, which is way above average considering almost 65% of all queries supposedly generate no clicks at all.

42% of local searchers click on results showing inside the Google Maps pack


This reinforces the data showing local searchers typically have a high purchase intent. They’re looking to buy now and they interact with local listings through clicks, including website visits, phone calls and even in-store visits.

The vast majority of these searches are taking place on Google and, according to data from BrightLocal, 81% of local searchers used Google to find businesses in their area in 2021 – up from 63% in 2020.

Which of the following sites or apps have you used to evaluate local business in the last 12 months


While fewer people use other channels to find local businesses, Yelp saw the greatest increase with a jump to 53% in 2021 from 32% in 2020. Most of the major platforms enjoyed a boost in activity but it’s more bad news for Facebook with a  drop in the percentage of people using the app to evaluate local businesses.

Local search trends

Google data shows the pandemic encouraged consumers in the UK to seek out new brands and it also changed their priorities. Shoppers were less concerned about recommendations from other buyers and more interested in availability (44%), price (43%), convenience (36%), and speed (33%).

Of course, we have to consider the disruption caused by Covid-19 and the impact on local search behaviours may be temporary. Yet research carried out by McKinsey suggests many of the habits consumers picked up during the pandemic could be here to stay.

Which habits consumers picked up during the pandemic are likely here to stay


A key challenge for brands with multiple business locations over the next few years will be keeping up with search data to determine which consumer trends will stand the test of time from Covid-19 shocks.

The short-term data from Google suggests people who adopted online shopping habits during the pandemic will continue to do more of their shopping online afterwards.

% shopping or expecting to shop via online vs in store


It turns out the newly-converted online shoppers don’t want to give up the benefits of searching and buying online. However, businesses need to understand that the benefits converts enjoy and the intensity of them are different from those who already did most of their shopping online pre-pandemic.

Aspects of shopping experience that are better or worse online versus in store


The expectations of experienced online shoppers and the Covid-converts are different – so companies need to cater for both. Also, keep in mind that the online and in-store expectations of the digitally converted may continue to change as they become more fluent with online shopping.

‘Near me’ searches

If we look at the Google Trends data for ‘near me’ searches over the past five years, we can see they continue to rise. Despite a couple of Covid-19 dips, “near me” searches continue to demonstrate impressive year-on-year growth as more people adopt local search.

The growth in near me searches


“Near me” searches aren’t only on the rise, but data from Uberall reveals an increase of non-branded queries, which shows people are actively looking to discover new brands through local search.

Average monthly near me searches


Increasingly, people are searching for business types and services in their ‘near me’ queries rather than simply typing to find the nearest branch of major brand names.

Local search opportunities

  • Search volumes: Local searches continue to rise and more people are searching after Covid-19 disruption – including those who never/rarely searched online.
  • High purchase intent: Most local searchers are looking to buy within 48 hours.
  • Priorities: Availability, price, convenience and speed are the biggest influences in local purchase decisions.
  • Discovery: Local searchers are looking to find new businesses and try out new brands.
  • Online shift: People who made the digital transition due to Covid-19 continue to search online.
  • Digital converts: People who adopted online shopping during the pandemic have different expectations from those who already did most of their shopping online.

Need help with your local SEO?

We have a dedicated team of local SEO experts who can take care of things for you. Contact us on 02392 830281 or fill in the form below and we’ll be in touch.

Sally Newman profile picture
Sally Newman

An accomplished digital marketer with over six years’ experience in local SEO and content for SEO, with a proven track record of hitting KPIs. As a proactive and enthusiastic member of the team, Sally brings a fresh energy to her work that sees her manage her accounts with both logical and lateral thinking, garnering great results for her customers across a range of industries. As well as talking at local events about all things SEO, you can also find Sally travelling the world, trying new foods and enjoying time with her dog, Pedro.

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