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By On May 7 2020 Search With 0 Comments Permalink

What’s Trending: COVID-19 Search Trends, Insights, and Tips for Content Marketers

Have you noticed yourself searching for more ‘home delivery’ lately? Or desperately tacking ‘in stock’ onto the end of every search, trying to find products that aren’t sold out? Maybe you’re just searching for more news sources to stay up to date. Whatever the case, you’re definitely not the only one.

Search trends tell us a lot about our day-to-day lives, needs, and desires. In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, search trends are arguably more valuable than ever, giving us insights into an ever-changing world. COVID-19 search trends can tell us a lot about both the present and the future, while also throwing up some interesting opportunities for forward-focussed content marketers. 

As such, we’ve performed a deep dive into COVID-19 search trends, analysing what people are searching for, and why it matters from a content marketing perspective.

Google Trends

A recent Think With Google article delves into COVID-19 search data, focussing on what people need in this moment.  Firstly, they found a global spike for DIY related searches, with 52% of Australians believing self-isolation will give them the chance to try new things, and 48% believing it will help them rediscover their passions[1].

Unsurprisingly, search interest in retail also experienced a global spike. Search terms such as ‘home delivery’ and ‘coles online’ have enjoyed 1,850% increases, while searches for terms such as ‘homemade hand sanitiser’, ‘rental relief’, and ‘unemployment benefits’ also experienced major spikes in Australia[1].

Additionally, YouTube searches for ‘with me’ videos, such as cooking with me, or workout with me, have seen a marked spike, as people search for more human connection while in isolation[1].

Finally, search terms such as ‘virtual’ in Australia, ‘puzzles’ in the USA, and ‘live zoo’ in the UK have all seen spikes, as people look to replace in-person activities with virtual substitutes[1]

Content Marketing Key Takeaways:

Think With Google outline 5 key takeaways from these search trends, reflecting the kinds of content people are craving right now. These are: ‘assembling critical information’, ‘discovering new connections’, ‘adjusting to changes in their routines’, ‘praising everyday heroes’, and ‘taking care of themselves and others’. 

For content marketers, the key takeaway is simple: create and promote content that services these new needs during an uncertain time. Examples of brands altering their marketing strategy to suit people’s changing needs include Guiness encouraging customers to participate in ‘virtual toasts’, as well as Coles and Woolworths adjusting their trading hours for seniors and essential workers. 

Infographic Info & Travel Tips

Social Media Today have created a handy infographic to chart search trends during COVID-19, finding that searches relating to health & wellness are up 17%, searches for news websites are up 34%, and searches for food and recipe websites are up 22%. More specifically, searches for Thai (55% increase) and pizza (53% increase) are way up, while French restaurants (-45% decline) and breweries (-57% decline) have been some of the hardest hit[2]

When it comes to fitness and recreation, bowling has been the hardest hit, with searches down 67%, while fitness & exercise equipment has enjoyed a 167% search spike. Unfortunately, searches for travel websites are also down 46%[2]

It’s not all bad news for travel though, as a study by Avvio finds that travel restrictions have not stopped people from looking ahead and planning their dream getaways. They found that Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK are the three countries with the highest interest in the search query ‘when can I travel again?’, while search interest for ‘when can I book a holiday again?’ peaked worldwide on April 6th[3]

Ultimately, Avvio’s survey should give cause for optimism within the travel industry, finding that 72% of people are interested in travelling domestically in 2020[3].  

Content Marketing Key Takeaways: 

The big takeaway for savvy content marketers is that flexibility is key. A strategy that may have seemed perfectly viable a few months ago may no longer be an option. Therefore, it may be important to switch your focus (i.e. from international travel to domestic travel). While some industries will experience an unavoidable decline due to social distancing regulations, this won’t stop people from dreaming and planning ahead. 

For an industry such as travel, encouraging people to think ahead and plan their dream holiday offers dual benefits. Firstly, it provides much needed escapism for users, while keeping your brand front of mind and nurturing long term relationships. A strategy like this may require some out of the box thinking, but it is likely to benefit you in the long run. 

Social Media Today reiterates these points, outlining their key SEO and SEM tips in lieu of COVID-19, including ‘start thinking about holiday & Q4 initiatives now’, ‘stay at the forefront of Google trends’, ‘maximise your email and remind users you can still deliver products and/or services’, and ‘reduce paid search and get ready for daily management’[2]

PPC Insights & Search Timing

A study by Business2Community investigates the impact of COVID-19 on PPC advertising campaigns. They found that COVID-19 related searches are now comfortably the most popular search category, beating searches related to news, weather, social media, and politics[4]

This analysis also found that searches spike early in the morning and late at night – bucking typical patterns.  Business2Community comments, ‘there’s some variance throughout the day…but it’s interesting to see these peaks so early and late in the day. It’s an uncommon trend—you usually see searches peak during mid-day working hours and after dinner, but the coronavirus searches…peak when many traditional searches would slow down. That means advertisers need to adjust their accounts accordingly’[4]

At first glance, this may seem like good news for PPC advertisers, however, this research ultimately notes that current search trends have led to 30% lower conversion rates on average for many advertisers[4]

Content Marketing Key Takeaways: 

The takeaways here are twofold. Firstly, it is interesting to note the change in search patterns as people stay at home more and more. These spikes in late night and early morning search impressions are likely due to people trying to stay up to date with the latest COVID news. This, coupled with changing activity during typical ‘peak’ hours, presents a series of challenges for advertisers. 

Still, Business2Community’s analysis outlined three areas of opportunity, noting that, ‘we’re staying up and online later than we normally would. That, coupled with this unusual late night COVID-19 search habit has fundamentally changed when we’re searching online. Even in industries not immediately impacted by the coronavirus-related searches, we’re still seeing large spikes in late night searches and ad impressions in their PPC campaigns’[4]

They suggest ‘smart bidding’, ‘new dayparting strategies’ and ‘revisiting your campaigns’ ad schedule’ as ways to make the most of these new search patterns[4]

Interest in Pinterest

Looking elsewhere, the world of Pinterest has also been impacted by so many people staying at home. In fact, Pinterest searches have increased 60% from this time last year, coupled with a 43% increase in board creations[5]

A lot of this increased search activity has centered around health and wellness, with a 4.3x increase in searches for ‘self care at home’, along with 3x increases in searches for ‘stress relief’ and ‘home bodyweight workouts[5]

Digging deeper, search terms such as ‘easy lunch ideas for kids’ (128x increase), ‘yeastless bread recipes’ (45x increase), ‘family movies’ (125x increase), ‘mother’s day at home’ (30x increase), and ‘virtual graduation parties’ (20x increase) have all spiked massively[5].

Content Marketing Key Takeaways: 

While these results are largely as expected, they are indicative of a broader interest in wellness, self care, home workouts, and new hobbies, given all the time people are spending at home. This knowledge presents an opportunity for marketers to target these trends and create content that engages people’s at-home needs.

Always a Silver Lining

An analysis of search trends in different sectors demonstrates how industries have had to pivot their offerings to suit a rapidly changing market. For example, the food industry saw search trends for ‘restaurant’ decrease by 46%, while searches for ‘food delivery’ increased by a massive 113%. Likewise, when it comes to education, searches for the term ‘education’ dropped by 32%, while searches for ‘online learning’ skyrocketed by 450%[6]. Similar trends are observable in most industries. 

Technology related searches have also boomed, with terms like ‘best practices for working from home’ seeing a 1,350% increase in searches, and ‘tips for working from home’ experiencing a 450% increase[6].

Finally, in B2B-world, searches for the term ‘Marketing Automation for Small Business’ increased by 300%, presenting a clear opportunity for content marketers to step up their automation game[6].

Content Marketing Key Takeaways: 

As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Search for restaurants going down? Don’t worry, food delivery is up. Can’t go to a gym? Home workouts to the rescue. No more face to face meetings? Hello Zoom. As mentioned, the same is true in most industries at the moment. 

As humans, we’re natural problem solvers, so the key opportunity here is to find that silver lining in your industry. Often, that will mean pivoting to a new, more virtual and automated way of doing things, so your content marketing strategy should account for this and be sensitive to the current situation. 

Web Ranking Insights

An in-depth analysis of recent search trends by Advanced Web Rankings reveals three key areas that have experienced major search spikes since COVID-19: ‘computer certification’ (2018% impression growth due to COVID-19), ‘financial aid’ (2146% impression growth due to COVID-19), and ‘television & video’ (236% impression growth due to COVID-19)[7]

Other areas such as advertising (11%), financial news (11%), fashion (4%), and job search (33%) experienced slight increases, while industries such as hotels (-20%), food & drink (-19%), travel (-20%), insurance (-9%), and real estate (-9%) all experienced decreases in search impressions[7]

Content Marketing Key Takeaways: 

Advanced Web Rankings provide several examples of the types of content people need right now, ranging from shopping (“…people need clarity on what items will make their quarantines more comfortable both physically and mentally”) to personal finance (“…guides on how to invest, safeguard wealth and generally how to make it through a downturn are ideal for this space”), to fashion (“…there is a demand for content on how to look good without leaving the home for your standard beauty routines, the best outfits for working from home, comfortable clothes from affordable brands and how to look good on Zoom calls”)[7]

Ultimately, they provide 3 key tips for content marketers in the current climate: be empathetic, measure relentlessly, and reassess your market segments. They also suggest taking a more personal and nurturing approach, commenting, ‘now, more than ever, we must remove abstractions like user, consumer, client, and customer and be acutely aware of the person on the other side of the web browser’[7]

Adding a human touch to your marketing efforts is a great tip at the best of times, however right now it is especially important to go that extra mile to show users you are empathetic to their challenges. 

Video Views

While many industries have been on the decline, one has experienced a major boost: video. In fact, since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, 37% of Australians and 47% of New Zealanders have been watching videos on platforms such as YouTube more frequently, while 90% of Australians have increased their at-home media consumption in some way[8].

More specifically, searches for YouTube videos containing the phrase ‘home workout’ have increased by 515% since the beginning of March, while search phrases such as ‘Pilates’, ‘fitness’, ‘dumbbells’, and ‘aerobics’ have all increased by over 200%[8].

When it comes to food, Australians have reported spending 30% more time in their kitchens on average, leading to a 260% increase in searches for bread baking videos. Unsurprisingly, work and study related videos have been trending too, with terms such as ‘time management’ and ‘video conference’ all on the rise. In fact, global searches for the phrase ‘study with me’ have increased 50% from this time last year[8].

Overall, YouTube video uploads featuring ‘at home’ in the title have increased by 700% since March 15[8].

Content Marketing Key Takeaways:

As people search for more ways to replace social interaction, the key takeaway for content marketers is clear: wherever possible, incorporate video into your marketing strategy.

Whether this means shorter snippets on social media, or more long form videos, it is clear that people are craving video content right now. According to Think With Google, “with 41% of Australians reporting that mental wellbeing is one of the three most important areas of their life right now, this looks like a trend that’s here to stay”[8].

In these uncertain times, video is an excellent way to stay connected with your customer base while still conveying your key messages.

‘Is it legal…?’

Finally, on a slightly lighter note, SEMRush performed an analysis of the most popular ‘is it legal?’ search queries in each country, throwing up some…interesting results. They found that searches to keep wild animals such as foxes, hedgehogs, and raccoons as pets are particularly popular in the USA and Mexico[9]

Elsewhere, searches for ‘is it legal to marry your cousin?’ are (slightly worryingly) high on the list in the UK. Unfortunately, this search query is high on the list in Australia too, while Canadians are more interested in knowing whether it is legal to marry yourself[9]

If that wasn’t already odd enough for you, SEMRush also put together a specialised ‘odd searches’ section, featuring gems such as ‘is it legal to collect scrap metal?’ (popular in Russia), ‘is it legal to ride a bicycle?’ (Norwegians want to know!), ‘is it legal to ship gold from Ghana to USA?’ (shockingly, that one’s big in Ghana), and ‘is Viagra legal?’ (big in Switzerland. Enough said)[9].

Content Marketing Key Takeaways: 

Let’s be honest, there’s probably not much you can learn from these search trends (apart from what not to do), but they are lots of fun! Maybe the only real takeaway is that isolation is making us all go a little bit crazy (at least, we hope that’s the excuse for some of these searches…). 

Really, the less said about some of these the better, I think. 

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Image by:Gerd Altmann from Pixabay