5 Ways Coronavirus (COVID-19) is Impacting SEO - cover image

Coronavirus is dominating social platforms, news mediums, and Google searches. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic and amidst the panic, people are turning to the web for information, support, and online services.

The COVID-19 has impacted everyone in one way or another. While travel virtually come to a halt, schools and public buildings close, and governments set cities into lockdown, everything seems to be changing quite quickly. Small businesses are having to close, services halted, and people are wondering how to cope with the global pandemic.

As people’s behaviours adapt, their search behaviours change too. We’re going to delve into the latest search studies to find out what people are 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 it.

1. Essential Ecommerce Stores

Search trends over the last couple of weeks have shown that eCommerce stores that sell essential goods are benefiting 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 of impressions and traffic.

Products related to the COVID pandemic are being increasingly searched for online. This search increase is because people are turning to the internet for necessary household products that have sold out or are too expensive at their local retailer. 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, have 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 necessities, eCommerce sites selling luxury goods and services are experiencing an enormous drop in traffic. People are frightened, anxious, and worried about what is to come the future; they are not as concerned with purchasing new luxury items and prioritising purchasing what is deemed “essential”.

2. Health & Wellness Information

Considering COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, people are looking for information online on health and wellness. Majority of the health searches include Coronavirus 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 Coronavirus. People do not have regular access to their doctors for their minor concerns, so users are turning to search engines to answer their questions – a heavy responsibility for those providing advice.

The most common health and wellness search trends have revolved around symptoms and best practices. Searches such as “handwashing technique” have 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 the pandemic 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 have felt this with websites that provide both useful and qualified information ranking first.

coronavirus impact on SEO trends

3. News Mediums

Media and news outlets are in incredibly high demand. Publisher websites are experiencing enormous surges in impressions and traffic. People are continually looking for the latest updates, regulations, and information. These searches are indicative of how much the general public is relying on the media for important updates on COVID-19.

Given there is a constant stream of worldwide updates to cover, it’s no wonder news publishers are seeing the most significant gains in search traffic. Not only do publishers provide regular updates on the pandemic, but many sites are offering access to resources in response to the challenges of COVID-19. While many publishers have to decide whether they lift paywalls for corona-related articles or keep them walled, others are providing free content and benefiting from the increased exposure.

Every news outlet is covering every aspect of the Coronavirus. As journalists continue to report on COVID-19, the public’s interest continues to grow, slamming publisher sites with enormous bouts of impressions and traffic.

4. Travel Websites

Understandably, the travel and tourism industry is predicted to suffer as a result of COVID-19. Nations across the world have imposed travel restrictions to hinder the spread of the Coronavirus. 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 that already, 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 travel queries. This may be due to the sheer number of people having to make reschedules, cancellations, and attain refunds. There has also been an influx of people looking for last-minute cheap deals amidst the pandemic.

The nature of travel-related searches has also shifted significantly to adapt to the current state of 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 enforce stricter regulations on travel, the industry is going to feel 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 dies down.

COVID 19 and SEO

5. 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 coronavirus 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 as more cities go into lockdown, more restaurants shut, and self-isolation is further encouraged, more people will 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, people are also cooking to fight boredom and bring creativity and joy into their day. We’re predicting a steady surge of traffic for recipe and other home-based DIY queries in the coming weeks of self-isolation and quarantine lockdown.

COVID-19 Is Impacting Every Industry

While these five sectors seem to be taking a lot of heat from user’s searches, every industry will be 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 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.

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