Changing Search Habits During COVID-19
The coronavirus epidemic drastically changed our daily lives. State-wide restrictions might soon be relaxing but many communities are going to continue social distancing. Online hangouts, working remotely, grocery deliveries — the social and business landscapes have changed and won’t be going back to normal any time soon.
The way we get our information has also changed. People are using the internet much more than even the recent past. Being stuck inside has made it one of the only ways to get in contact with the outside world. Our willingness to interact with online advertising is changing. So are the searches we’re performing in the first place. These trends can have a great impact on both your performance in search engine optimization, as well as the general online marketing strategy for your business.
So what are these trends? And what can you do to navigate them?
Recent Search Trends
Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has become a highly-searched topic. For example, look at this picture.
This is taken from Google Trends, which is a free tool that shows you how often specific terms are being searched. It is a graph comparing the amount of times “COVID-19” has been searched compared to how often “Taylor Swift” has been searched. Taylor Swift is generally a highly-searched term, but she barely registers when compared to COVID-19 as far as search frequency in the United States. And even though COVID-19 isn’t searched as much as it once was, it is still trending high.
This is a small example but it reflects how the focus of the general public has shifted. Google Trends is a great tool which can be used to see how these changing habits have specifically affected your industry. Many will find their entire industry trending downwards.
In fact, the only industries that have seen an increase in search performance relate directly to our new living situations. Working from home, grocery deliveries, and other searches that help people remain comfortable at home are still very popular.
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Changing Search Habits
Working from home, or not working at all, means the daily schedules of many people’s lives have been drastically changed around. This has also affected the time of day they perform the majority of their Google searches.
In fact, searches after midnight have increased by 15% since the start of the stay-at-home orders. This might sound encouraging, but advertisers have actually seen a 10% to 25% dip in their conversion rates during these times. One possible reason for the lower conversion rates could be people’s increased tendency to search for material relating to COVID-19. Reading about the pandemic puts them in a bad headspace and makes them less likely to click through advertisements and complete a purchase.
Weekend search trends are pretty comparable to what they were before the outbreak of COVID-19. This — combined with the late-night trends — can offer a deceptively optimistic scenario to advertisers. However, many of these searches are going to articles and websites related to the outbreak. This takes a large amount of traffic away from a wide variety of search topics for many industries.
How This Translates
News agencies and grocery stores have seen a spike in search traffic and click-through rates. Most other industries, on the other hand, have not been able to capitalize on the large amount of people spending more time online. Essential industries are going to continue garnering searches as their services are needed. Elective services will see a drop in overall searches until society starts to move back toward normal.
And if you’re not getting the searches, you’re not going to receive impressions on your advertisements.
Your website’s performance will clue you in to small adjustments you can make to optimize your advertisement campaigns. Google ads, for example, are very customizable for many factors such as the time of day they are active. Are you able to make use of this late night traffic? Then run some ads relating to relevant keywords. If not, continue running them during the day.
Staying at home means more people are going to be spending time online. And this means that there are going to be a higher amount of searches. A focus on SEO will give you the best chance at garnering attention from any of these searches that relate to your services.
The bottom line is that many industries are seeing a drop in their search results because of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, there are a lot of tools at your disposal that can give you the best possible chance at maintaining as much of your previous search rankings as possible. It’s important to be realistic about what you can expect during these difficult times, but continued effort will help mitigate the negative consequences.
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