The Impact Of COVID-19 On Search Behavior

under SEO.

With COVID-19, we're dealing with a pandemic that has quickly changed how we go about our daily lives (do your part and flatten the curve.). Schools are closed, businesses are closed, and we can't find toilet paper anywhere. The never-ending cycle of COVID-19 news has made it hard to focus on anything else (or maybe it's just me?).

I wanted to take a break from scrolling through Twitter to read the latest doom and gloom scenarios to take a look at how this pandemic is impacting search behavior on Google.

These trends may seem obvious, but it's interesting to see the huge shift in search demand for many of these queries.

Demand for store specific delivery has exploded.

 
Demand trends for big box delivery searches

I'm not surprised by this trend, but I wonder why the demand for Sam's Club isn't a bit higher.

If you're like me, you don't want to venture outside to get anything right now.

Trends for the most generic, high-level delivery terms are way up as well, but to me, this clearly shows that shopper store preferences are not changing.

The demand for meal delivery services has exploded.

 
Demand trends for meal delivery brands

Grocery stores are running low on everyday items, including meat, bread, and eggs. Many Americans are looking for alternative options to get meals delivered directly to their door.

What's interesting is that Plated and Freshly are trending down after trending above Blue Apron for the last 12 months.

I'm not exactly sure why this is happening. Organically speaking, Plated has lost a significant amount of traffic (which points to SEO issues), but both Plated and Freshly bring in hundreds of thousands of users each month.

Why are they trending down compared to Hello Fresh and Blue Apron? Maybe traditional advertising (TV, radio, etc.) are playing a role here. What do you think?

Demand for airline refunds is through the roof.

 
Demand for airline refunds during COVID

Again, no surprise here. There are travel restrictions in place, and many people are afraid to travel (myself included). American Airlines sees the most demand in terms of refund searches.

American does have the largest fleet size in the U.S., but Delta is leading the industry in terms of revenue. Could their basic economy tickets cause the spike?

 
Demand trends for refunds of basic economy tickets

While there is some demand for basic economy refunds (branded and non-branded), it's not matching the trends for the high-level query (like the American Airlines refund).

Greyhound and Amtrak see similar (less extreme) refund trends.

 
Demand trends for greyhound and amtrak refunds

Anything related to travel will see a spike in refund-related demand. What's interesting is that the demand for a "Greyhound refund" isn't much higher than it is typically.

Maybe there's a more significant quality issue with Greyhound. The demand for Amtrak refunds exploded, especially when compared to Greyhound.

When you look at the rider data, it's a bit more clear. Greyhound serves about 16 million passengers per year, while Amtrak servers about 31 million passengers per year. The demand for refunds will be much higher than Greyhounds.

Refund demand for gym memberships is rising (also users searching to check if their gyms are open).

 
Demand trends for gym refunds

We should do everything that we can to flatten the curve, but the urge to work out is still there. If you're like me, you probably have a gym membership, and while my gym is still open, I don't have any plans on going to work out right now.

Since I am self-isolating, I thought about canceling my membership, and the data shows that I am not alone.

 
Demand trends for gym open

What's even more interesting is that demand for "gym + open" is way up as well. Even in the face of an epidemic, people want to get their swole on. Seriously, people stay home!

Demand for alcohol delivery queries sees a boom.

 
Demand trends for wine and beer delivery

I was surprised by this one. I wasn't surprised that people are searching for beer and wine delivery, but wine delivery is crushing anything related in terms of search demand.

I shared this screenshot with the team and got some interesting thoughts.

With many Americans not able to go to the gym, they are more conscious of the calories/carbs in beer. Wine is perceived as "healthy" compared to beer. Also, wine is easier to carry around compared to a 24-pack of brews.

What do you think?

Demand for bidets has exploded due to the low-supply of TP.

 
Demand trends for bidets

Bidets are popular outside of the U.S., but with the shortage of TP, the search demand has exploded.

What's interesting is that the demand for flushable wipes/wet wipes has hardly increased when compared to the demand for bidets. I have a bidet, but STOP hoarding TP people!

Demand for dumbbells and home workouts have exploded.

 
Demand trends for dumbbells

When you're self-isolating and dealing with the weight of this situation, those calories can sneak up on you.

Exercising is a great way to give your mind and body a break from the constant stress of this situation. Even with the gym closures, the demand shows that many Americans are still looking for ways to exercise at home.

Schools have closed, but the demand for learning is open.

 
Demand trends for online learning companies

Most schools have canceled classes for at least two weeks. Depending on how this situation unfolds, many students may be out of school for the remainder of the school year.

Many schools have developed take-home learning packets, or in some cases, they are holding classes online via Zoom.

My first grader wouldn't sit long enough for a Zoom class, so that's not an option for everyone.

The demand trends are showing that parents (or older students) are searching for alternative means of learning like Khan Academy and ABC Mouse.

I assumed that the demand for PBS Kids would be up as well, but it's not. Any ideas?

Demand for remote communication tools has grown.

 
Demand trends for remote communication tools

Like most companies, we use Slack. Microsoft Teams is about even with Slack in demand over March after lagging for the last 12 months.

I've never used Microsoft Teams, so I can't speak to its features, but are they doing a better job for companies that are transitioning to remote work for the first time?

The demand for video conferencing tools has grown.

 
Demand trends for video conferencing

Zoom is one of the most stable video conferencing tools that I've ever used, and that seems to be the case with everyone that I know.

So there's no surprise that the demand for Zoom is zooming. Demand trends have slightly grown for other video conferencing tools as well, but it pales in comparison to Zoom.

There's a lot of uncertainty with business owners.

 
Demand trends for close business keywords

Unfortunately, a lot of businesses are being hit hard right now. Local businesses are closed, and the businesses that have not closed are seeing huge drops in revenue due to the decline in foot traffic.

With this, a lot of business owners are searching for queries that revolve around closing their business. The demand trend for "sell my business" is trending down, which further highlights the current uncertainty in the market. If you can, please support your local businesses.

Let me know if you've found any interesting trends in the comments below.

Trust and believe that we will get through this together!