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How COVID-19 has impacted search results and how to develop an action plan to thrive

By Nemash Patel

Push Group


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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March 31, 2020 | 7 min read

COVID-19 is impacting public health as well as the economy on a global scale. Such events always impact search behaviours and patterns. In the current crisis we have seen users turn to online search for immediate news and solutions and with the increase in working from home, there have been more users online searching for more hours of the day.

Samsung's Gear VR Headset has sold out on pre-orders alone

Push Group look at how companies and brands can adapt during the pandemic.

By looking at data across Google, Microsoft and Facebook we can pinpoint five industries that have been hit the hardest as well as five that have seen an increase in volume.

Five segments with biggest falls

Travel - This is not surprising as governments state people should be avoiding unnecessary travel and fewer consumers are looking to book any sort of travel. Searches for topics such as flight cancellations are very high though and ads related to these topics dominate the page. Facebook estimates that it will take the travel sector the longest time to recover from the crisis with the best guidance being to promote cheaper fares and easy cancellations and adjustments for future travel.

Bars and restaurants - In the UK, dine-in restaurants and bars are closed for the foreseeable future and volume has switched to searches based on takeaway and food delivery. Restaurants that had no online presence or route to deliver to the market are quickly looking for solutions and partnerships with providers such as Just eat or Uber Eats.

Automotive - Facebook forecasts the sector will not recover until the end of the year due to inventory that is already in the market that isn’t sold as well as supply chain issues for new builds. Search volume for automotive dealers has declined dramatically as consumers’ priorities change and users are only leaving the house for key work or to get essentials.

Live events / conferences - Public safety and limits on group size have seen venues cancelling shows and search volume for live entertainment has dropped sharply. Large conferences have either cancelled, postponed their events or are trying to host a virtual event instead. For example, Microsoft has transformed their annual Elevate event in Seattle into an online event available to all users across the globe.

Industrial and manufacturing - As manufacturing slows, we are seeing campaigns for manufacturing and industrial goods being impacted. There is a large drop in search traffic in terms related to manufacturing though the sector could quickly bounce back when the disease is under control.

Five segments with biggest gains

Health and medical - Searches for advice on protection for families and key steps to take are increasing. Consumers are using search more and more to find vital medication. Many advertisers are seeing increased ease in selling products online with conversion rates significantly higher than usual.

Charities - Google Ads supports a number of Google grant programs to allow nonprofits to advertise for free and search traffic has increased steadily for charities over the past few weeks.

Finance - Consumers are searching for help and advice at this time and we have also seen cost per clicks fall.

Media - We are consuming more and more entertainment at home and searches for terms related to on demand media in the home are significantly up.

Food - Unsurprisingly seeing a massive surge in users wanting to shop online and when supermarkets struggle to offer delivery slots they are searching for necessities from sites such as Amazon or smaller retailers that have an online presence and delivery service.

Communication is key

We know that in a time of crisis consumers seek positive interactions with brands and appreciate regular updates. In a recent global meeting, Facebook recommended that brands should be:

  • Authentic
  • Maintain proactive and frequent communication with customers
  • Set realistic expectations
  • Train customer service teams
  • Constantly monitor and act upon customer feedback

Push & SGFE virtual event

If the opportunities for your business are going to be reduced over the next few months then now is the time to strategise and be ready to recover losses. History shows that you cannot dig your way out of a hole, it takes time to formulate, disseminate and apply new strategies so planning and investment needs to start while you’re still reacting to the crisis.

There may also be smart ways to adapt your business that allow you to build your brand awareness and loyalty during this time and continue to earn revenue.

Push are a Google Premier Partner, Facebook Preferred Partner and Microsoft Elite Partner and have access to data and analytics from the key digital providers that could help you take the key actions needed in the current environment.

We have teamed up with Strategic Growth for Enterprise to provide a series of three webinars to help and support key businesses. SGFE are a group of experienced business coaches who have proven track records in building and growing businesses worldwide.

Sign up for our free first virtual event here on Thursday April 2nd at 2PM GMT. This session will cover the following topics:

  • Why the market downturn could have been predicted and what history tells us with reference to economic cycles
  • Insights from Google, Facebook and Microsoft on trends, actionable insights and strategies
  • Research and planning you need to do now

We will then have two follow up webinars on Thursday April 9th and Thursday April 16th. Sign up information will follow and these sessions will cover:

  • The top three actions to take now to be ready and outperform the market
  • Which ad copy trends are doubling click through rates and reducing costs per acquisition
  • When the market will reset and how to future proof your marketing plans

We know there are lots of webinars being offered at the moment but we are uniquely positioned to give insight due to our relationships with the key players in the digital market.

We run over ten events at Google each year so know how to provide simple strategies to businesses that get them the maximum benefit in the real world.

We will record the webinar and all those registered will receive a link to the recording shortly after the live event.

Nemash Patel, marketing manager at Push Group.


Content by The Drum Network member:

Push Group

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