How COVID-19 is Effecting Search Traffic

How COVID-19 is Effecting Search Traffic

Nyrie Roos

Nyrie Roos

Co founder - Growth

Whilst some are burning up the hours watching Netflix, COVID-19 (or the CCP Virus) is dominating social platforms, news mediums, and Google searches. Finally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic and amidst the panic, people were and continue to turn to the web for information, support, and online services. Isolation complacency or missed opportunity in positioning a business for when we all come out of this?

COVID 19 has impacted all os us in one way or another. While travel came to a halt, schools and public buildings closed, and governments put us into hibernation, everything changed quickly. Small businesses closed, services halted, and people are still wondering how to cope with our new world. As people’s behaviours adapt, their search behaviours have changed too.

We’re going to dig into the latest findings to find out what people have been searching for during the crisis. After all, search reflects human behaviour, and as COVID-19 impacts each industry differently, analysing search trends gives us an insight into how people are reacting to and dealing with it.

1. Essential Ecommerce Stores

Search trends over the last eight weeks show that eCommerce stores selling essential goods have benefited greatly from increased search traffic. Ecommerce websites that sell necessities such as toilet paper, hand sanitiser, face masks, sanitary wipes, and thermometers have seen huge spikes in terms of impressions and traffic.

Products related to the COVID-19 have been increasingly searched for online. This search increase is because people turned to the internet for necessary household products that sold out or were too expensive at their local store. Businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies have seen a massive influx in search interest for their brand names, as well as their products.

This massive increase in demand, combined with supermarket and pharmacy product shortages, made way for local search queries such as “toilet paper near me” and “face masks near me”.

While there has been a significant bump for sites selling “essential” necessities, eCommerce sites selling luxury goods and services experienced a large decline in traffic. On the flip side, furniture sales for lounges and recliners increased. People have been frightened, anxious, and worried about what the future will hold; they have not been concerned with purchasing new luxury items and prioritising purchasing what is deemed “essential” differently, analysing search trends gives us an insight into how people have reacted to it.

2. Health-Related Information 

Considering COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, people have been looking for information online on health. The majority of health searches included COVID-19 symptoms, home remedies, prevention methods, and general information about the virus.

The last couple of weeks have seen a massive surge in users searching for content that relates to both health and the COVID-19.

Because people did not have normal access to their doctors for minor concerns, people turned to search engines for answers to their questions.

The most common health and wellness search trends have revolved around symptoms and best practices. Searches such as “handwashing technique” increased significantly, as well as queries looking for home remedies such as “antibacterial essential oils”, “antiviral foods”, and “antiviral herbs”.

Health and wellness searches have become increasingly prevalent this time, and Google has acted accordingly. Content that provides qualified, high-quality advice during these times is taking precedence over sites that are less authoritative and somewhat vague. Google and other online platforms are actively trying to root out misinformation about the virus. The health and wellness sector has felt this with websites that provide both useful and qualified information seeing upward trending in ranking.

3. Travel Websites

The travel and tourism industry has suffered as a result of COVID-19. Nations across the world have imposed travel restrictions to hinder the spread of the virus. The travel restrictions have had an enormous impact on travel-related searches, ranging from hotel and cruise ship quarantines to airlines and hotel queries.

Search trends indicate, search queries that are travel relevant are going all over the place. Cruise-related queries are declining, along with hotel queries and tour searches.

However, there have been a few large surges in search traffic relating to internal travel queries just recently with the freeing up of the restrictions.

The nature of travel-related searches shifted significantly due to the pandemic. Where someone searching for “Italy travel” a few months ago may have had the intention of planning a holiday, today, that search is more likely to get information about the current knowledge on travel restrictions in Italy.

As more countries enforced stricter regulations on travel, the industry felt the impact, both online and offline. In this time of crisis, travel-based companies should be focused on customer support and consolidation, as customer acquisition is not likely to increase until the pandemic restrictions free up and we can book a holiday with surety in Australia.

4. Recipe Websites

One surprising sector to be experiencing a nice surge in traffic during the pandemic is recipe websites. It seems that while people are in self-isolation, social distancing, and in lockdown, they are turning to the web to look for some ways to get creative in the kitchen.

While they aren’t experiencing the same surge as health-based websites with COVID-19 information, recipe websites are receiving an increase in impressions and clicks. This is because of the number of people that are now cooking at home rather than going out to eat.

It looks like even as restrictions continue, restaurants are opened up, and self-isolation is decreased, people will still continue to look online for new recipes. Search data indicates that not only are people looking for new recipes to cook at home, but the recipe and lifestyle publishers are adapting to user needs by producing “coronavirus” based recipes. Eg. “Easy Recipes to Cook During Coronavirus Self-Quarantine”, and “Coronavirus self-isolation dinners”.

With several countries in lockdown still, people are also cooking to fight boredom and bring creativity and joy into their day. We’re predicting a steady surge of traffic for recipes and other home-based DIY queries in the coming weeks of continued isolation and restrictions.

COVID-19 Has Impacted Every Business

While these four sectors seem to have taken a lot of user’s searches, every industry has been impacted by COVID-19 searches online. Regardless of what industry you are in, people will continue to search for information about the impact of COVID-19 relating to your business.

In times like these, it’s more important than ever to watch query and search data carefully. User search behaviour mirrors human behaviour, with search insights giving us an idea of how people are reacting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether your audience is looking to you for answers or your web traffic is suffering, keeping an eye on search data can provide you with an insight into how your business can help others during this period.

It’s becoming clear that COVID-19 is going to continue to change our lives for the next few months at least. Stay safe, healthy, and practice social distancing. Use this time wisely to learn more about your online audience with insightful search data and if nothing else, grow your connection database and give them quality information online. Build relationships for the future.


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