How COVID-19 Has Affected Search Trends and Behavior

As we navigate the ever-changing landscape of the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, we are undoubtedly seeing drastic changes in consumer search behavior. Businesses and individuals across the globe are affected by the spread of the virus and are pivoting from their previous behaviors and practices in effort to adapt from the top down and inside out. Adapting to this new landscape has become the new normal. We’re committed to hugging change and helping brands pivot their marketing to react appropriately to COVID-19 changes.

We examined variations of Google search trends from March 1 to March 23. While some search trends, like the spike in searches for ‘online learning’, seem a little obvious given the current situation, we are seeing changes in less predictable searches like the rise in searches for ‘mortgages.’

Travel Search Trends

  • Over a two week period of time, ‘things to do’ searches fell by 72 percent.
  • Meanwhile, searches for ‘outdoors’ grew by 45 percent over the same period of time.
  • Additionally, searches for ‘hiking’ increased by 58 percent.

Traditional travel as we once knew it is changing in the wake of COVID-19 as the population practices social distancing and does their part to flatten the curve. More and more, people are seeking outdoor experiences near home. They are navigating a new phenomenon of being a tourist in their local communities. Not only is travel and activity impacted, but local restaurants and bars are as well as we are seeing trends in related searches.

Food Search Trends

  • ‘Restaurant’ searches were down by 46 percent over a two week period of time.
  • Searches for ‘food delivery’ have skyrocketed by 113 percent sparking an increase in articles like these across the country.

With the population staying close to home, the freedom of traveling to desired destinations and businesses is clearly limited. However, we’ve seen an incredible response in local businesses proactively adapting to this new landscape by offering curbside food delivery, text ordering for pickup and even drop-off solutions to customers.

In Reno alone, there are more than 200 local restaurants who have swiftly changed their business models to offer convenient and safe solutions for the online food delivery searcher.

While in the short term customers may not be visiting store fronts, customers are increasingly becoming aware of the quick and adaptive thinking to help ease some of the growing pains during this unprecedented time. Short term solutions, like curbside pickup from a favorite local restaurant will inevitably draw customers to their locations in the future.

Education Search Trends

  • ‘Education’ searches dropped by 32 percent.
  • Searches for ‘online school’ exponentially increased by 129 percent.
  • ‘Online learning’ searches tripled by 450 percent.

UNESCO estimates over 87 percent of the world’s student population have experienced disruption in their education as a result of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, it was not common for kindergarten through grade 12 to harness online tools to educate students remotely. Remote learning was more familiar to higher-education institutions. As many institutions move to online schooling for students, there is an immense interest in online learning alternatives and solutions.

K-12 schools across the globe are being pushed to offer innovative solutions in short time frames, allowing inventive alternatives to come about. In some areas, students submit videos of themselves performing physical activity for their physical education classes. Other teachers are conducting classes via Zoom to maintain the group learning system.

Meanwhile, colleges and universities were some of the first to react to COVID-19 and send students and staff home in favor of adopting online solutions, which could change the way people pursue degrees for years to come. Online education could become the new normal.

It’s hard to say exactly how this will shape K-12 and higher education in the long run. But one thing is clear, education does not look the same as it once did. New solutions could offer much needed innovations to implement for the long-term.

Health & Wellness Search Trends

  • Unsurprisingly, we observed a rise in searches for ‘COVID-19’, with the term booming by 1,300 percent.
  • Searches for ‘emergency’ have increased by 100 percent.
  • Searches for ‘hospital’ have increased by 67 percent.
  • 180 percent increase in searches for ‘online doctors.’
  • 120 percent increase in ‘telemedicine’ searches.
  • 160 percent increase in ‘telehealth’ searches.

Searches containing ‘coronavirus’ and ‘COVID-19’ have skyrocketed as news of the virus spreads and as people are seeking answers to ease their confusion and distress. Google Trends reports that COVID-19 searches are often made early in the morning and late at night, as it is speculated to be the first and last things on people’s minds.

Outside of the searches related to the virus there has been an increase in searches related to emergency services and hospitals. Interestingly, searches for ‘telemedicine’ and ‘telehealth’ have increased exponentially. At a time like this, relevant and reliable information is key.

  • 250 percent increase in searches for ‘home workout apps.’
  • 60 percent increase in searches for ‘online yoga classes.’
  • 200 percent increase in searches for ‘antidepressants.’

As people look for ways to stay active and healthy while at home, searches for home workout apps and online yoga classes remain among the top most searched terms. Beyond at-home workouts, Pinterest reports people are searching for mental well-being topics like ‘meditation tips for beginners’. Additionally, searches for ‘antidepressants’ have risen by 200 percent. This trend carries over to influencer content. Fohr saw that from February to March, there was a 87% increase in mentions of meditation month over month. Fohr also noticed a 173% increase in posts from influencers in their network month over month.

This global pandemic is unprecedented and online users are looking for ways to make it through this time in healthy ways. There is a great opportunity to empathize with and support users who are looking for ways to cope.

Think With Google states that it is more important now than ever to stay informed, provide tools for adapting and coping and to remain transparent. What resources and tools can you provide that will help ease the pain points for your customers during this time?

Technology Search Trends

  • ‘Online’ searches rose by 54 percent.
  • ‘Web’ searches rose by 25 percent.
  • ‘Best practices for working from home’ has seen a 1,350 percent increase in searches.
  • ‘Tips for working from home’ has seen a 450 percent increase.
  • ‘Zoom video communications’ has seen a 400 percent increase in searches.

Companies who have the means to do so have quickly adapted to a remote workforce seemingly overnight. Teams are eager to adopt better practices when it comes to working remotely. While online users are avidly searching for tips and tricks to work from home successfully, online communication platforms such as Zoom and Google Hangouts are seeing an influx of usage.

Technology and software companies should be reevaluating their marketing strategies to assess how they might be able to lean in and support businesses in this time of uncertainty,

As we are trending toward a virtual workforce, resources for hosting and participating in virtual events or meetings are incredibly useful. As businesses across the globe are doing their part to prevent the spread of the virus it is crucial to find creative and adaptive solutions to maintain company culture while working remotely.

Insurance Search Trends

  • ‘Life insurance’ searches are up by 4 percent.
  • ‘Health insurance’ searches are down by 5 percent.
  • ‘Business insurance’ searches rise by 48 percent.
  • Searches for ‘unemployment insurance’ rose by 40 percent.

With the rising economic uncertainty, it is reasonable to expect that searches for business insurance and unemployment insurance would be rising. Google reports terms like pandemic unemployment assistance have risen by 650 percent in a single day.

Real Estate Search Trends

  • ‘Mortgage’ searches ballooned by 109 percent, with loan searches rising to 24 percent.
  • ‘Banking’ searches rose by 8 percent.
  • ‘New home’ searches rose by 75 percent.
  • ‘Real Estate’ searches dropped by 18 percent.

Consumers aren’t currently searching for real estate, but they are searching for new homes at an astonishing rate. Home building searches have increased by 12 percent while real estate searches have lowered by 18 percent. This can be correlated to the Fed lowering interest rates in mid-March to stimulate economic growth. Lower interest rates encourage borrowing for things like buying a home. With the true economic impact of COVID-19 yet to be seen, it’s unclear if this search volume will ultimately lead to increased home buying, but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.

B2B Search Trends

  • ‘Marketing Automation for Small Business’ searches increased by 300 percent.
  • ‘Airtable’ searches increased by 250 percent.
  • ‘Smartsheet’ searches rose by 60 percent.
  • Searches for the topic ‘project management’ rose by 250 percent.
  • Searches for ‘pardot’ jumped by 140 percent.
  • ‘VMware’ searches have ballooned by 400 percent.
  • ‘Tableau’ searches have increased by 400 percent as well.

Searches for project management software and automation tools have skyrocketed as the remote workforce grows. Various tools for organizational management, project management and lead generation, such as Pardot and Airtable, are seeing an increase in searches as well. B2B marketers are searching for technology and products that will help them make important decisions during this time.

Internet Usage Trends

  • Joe Shadle of Comcast stated they are seeing sustained usage and peaks throughout the day, rather than before COVID-19 when usage spiked at the end of the typical workday.
  • Vodafone reports a 50 percent increase in internet usage in some European countries as users turn to streaming services like Netflix while they remain at home.
  • CNET reports, “In a week-over-week comparison, Verizon said voice usage between March 12 and March 19 on its network was up 25 percent. And total web traffic was up 22 percent.”
  • Additionally, AT&T reported, “wireless voice calls were up 44 percent compared to a normal Sunday; Wi-Fi calling was up 88 percent and landline home phone calls were up 74 percent.”

The increase in internet usage can be attributed to the rising increase of children utilizing online tools for educational purposes, people working from home and audiences watching streaming services or playing games on home devices.

Every day, we’re keeping our eye on the trends in search engine marketing as a result of COVID-19. Come back to this blog regularly for our latest findings.

Sources

Health and Wellness

Insurance

Technology

Education

Restaurants/ Food Search Trends 

Internet Usage