Local search focuses on driving traffic to local brick and mortar businesses, and with the rise in COVID-19 many local businesses were at risk if they did not have an online presence. Since the world has taken to the internet a lot more, Google published 4 ways for businesses to drive local search traffic to an offline local business to increase sales. Regardless of whether a business is online or offline, understanding the ways customers find businesses will always assist in creating more sales. 

Google shared the 3 ways growing customers are searching for business: 

  1. Youtube and local shopping 
  2. Google maps 
  3. Offline sales 

1. YouTube and Local Shopping 

Previously YouTube would not be considered as a platform to drive local business sales, however, YouTube is used more than any other social network according to a study done by Pew Research Centre. It now makes sense that YouTube should be considered as Google shows YouTube snippets in response to search queries and for specific search queries where users could use more information about a product or service. 

“Forty-five percent of viewers say they watch YouTube to see a product demo before buying. Viewers say they are 2x more likely to go in-store or online to buy something they saw on YouTube versus the competitive average.”  

– Google

2. Google Maps 

Users have been using Google maps to find local businesses which provide specific services. If a business does not have a Google My Business account, this trend should highlight the need to claim a free account as working with this can enhance the business’s Google Maps listings. 

It is important to note that Google Maps is considered as a search engine that provides a local business with a highly targeted context to improve its presence. 

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Since many users are using Google Maps to find local businesses, the top generic searches in Google maps are:(Source: Google Data, U.S., February 2021)

  • Restaurants ????
  • Hotels ????
  • restaurants near me ????
  • Gas ⛽
  • Food ????
  • food near me ????
  • grocery store ????
  • gas station ⛽
  • Coffee ☕
  • Pizza ????

3. Offline sales 

There are 2 tips Google has published for businesses on how they can get more local search related traffic with advertising and with non-advertising search traffic. 

Tip1: Google encourages local businesses to build an online storefront to use in conjunction with a free Google My Business account in order to stand out in the local related searches and in Google Maps. 

Tip2: The second tip shows local businesses how to get up to 42% more referrals from Google. 

“The key to driving store traffic from the web into your physical location is letting customers know you’re close by and that you have what they’re looking for. Businesses that add photos to their Business Profiles receive 42% more requests for directions on Google Maps, and 35% more clicks through to their websites than businesses that don’t.”

– Google

By adding photos it increases engagement by 42% and 35%. Below are ways that photographs engage consumers and drive sales for a local business. 

1. Emotionally engage consumer with Images 

It has been proven that images can influence a viewer’s emotions in both a positive and a negative manner, and by influencing it in a positive manner it can enhance the marketing message. 

2. Reduce fatigue by using images

Images speak a thousand words which is why people absorb information through images. By using imagery it communicates a message of how delicious a menu item is or the level of professionalism of your employees are. 

3. Easier to recall an image than text 

Images are easy to recall as they make a strong impact on consumers. It has been found that consumers have the ability to remember over 2000 images for days with 90% accuracy – humans have a superpower we did not even know about. 

4. Apart from images, graphs communicate information

Graphs are a great way to communicate ideas. The human brain can identify images within 13 milliseconds according to an MIT neuroscientist. Visually communicating ideas is a powerful way to get a marketing message across successfully. 

5. Images increase profitability and build trust. 

By using images it increases sales as it shows the consumer what they will be getting. It was discovered that the liberal use of images increases sales – this analysis was conducted using millions of eBay auctions. 

Why should you care?

Increasing sales is every business’s goal which is why showing up on search is important. Many kinds of searches are trending but the ones that show a dramatic increase involves consumers searching for businesses that are local to them. Consumers searching for businesses that are local to them with specific stock and searches related to restaurants. Local businesses should use the advice given above to stand out from their local competitors and be the business consumers prefer over others. 

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