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Covid-19’s impact around the world is undeniable. In the last 6 months, it has affected everyone in some way. It has affected lives, businesses, and whole industries. But how does this virus impact Search Engine Optimization? From a marketing perspective, the outbreak has created a shift in online search trends. Keyword searches in different industries have resulted in both traffic growth and dips across the board.

As entire countries shut down to control the spread of the virus and people stay home to avoid getting infected, more have turned to searching online for what they need. This shift in online consumer behavior has provided us with insightful data that could prove useful in predicting future trends to help with your strategy.

Retail SEO Trends

Ecommerce websites selling essentials

E-commerce platforms, particularly those selling essential goods, seem to be doing fairly well in these times. These online shops have had a positive organic growth in traffic. With everyone locked down at home, people have turned to online shopping for their essential items. Most searched-for are face masks, toilet paper, thermometers, and disinfectants such as hand sanitizer and sanitary wipes. People have also been trying to get more specific with their queries. Recent searches have also included various search terms such as “toilet paper near me”, and “hand sanitizer near me” to get the most relevant search results.

E-commerce sites selling non-essentials

As searches for essential goods spiked, the search for non-essentials has dropped. Searches for fashion (e.g. clothing, accessories, etc.) have seen a drop in traffic, as more and more people opt to search and shop for more necessary items such as food, toilet paper and hand sanitizers.

Food and Food Recipe sites

Food is highly essential in human life and it has seen an upward trend in search queries. With the lockdown in some areas comes the closure of most food retailers like markets, grocery stores, and restaurants. Search terms related to food and food services have experienced an upward growth too. Queries for grocery items and food deliveries have increased as those quarantined at home look for establishments that can serve their needs. According to data, searches for Fast food and Pizza are up by +53%, and Thai by +55%. The category Imported Food Stores are up +172%, while Community-Supported Agriculture are up +157%. Food courts and buffets, however, have dipped down 32%.

It appears more and more people are turning to the Internet to enhance their culinary skills as they try to fill their time while locked down at home. Websites with content focused on food and food recipes are also enjoying a spike in traffic, experiencing a growth of +22%. Food trends posted on social media may have helped with this growth in part, as users scramble to search for the recipes that are currently trending online.

Recreational Search Trends

Fitness and Fitness Equipment

This pandemic has also contributed to a huge increase in the interest of fitness and fitness equipment. With gyms closed, people are  trying to find ways to stay fit and keep up with their workout routines while at home, so there has been an increase in fitness equipment and home workouts. Sites that sell fitness equipment have struck SEO gold as searches for these have gone up +162%.

Gardening

It also appears that people are interested in nurturing their green thumbs. Searches for gardening supplies have seen a slight rise in the last few weeks, as everyone is looking for something else to do.  Gardening is often said to be a therapeutic and calming activity and could provide a welcome respite from these stressful times brought on by a world-crippling disease.

Information Search Trends

Some websites that publish information have also been reaping the rewards of search engine optimization.

News websites

The news is another winner as the search traffic for news websites has gone up +34%. With everyone staying at home, people are craving for the most updated information about the virus and the pandemic. Because of this, online news outlets have gotten more popular. News updates about death tolls, new cases, and infection rates, government regulations and policies, as well as news of a possible vaccine or cure have been factors in this growth surge.

Health & Wellness sites

As people grow more concerned over this pandemic, searches related to Covid 19 have also risen. This led to a slight traffic growth of +17 % for websites that publish information about health and wellness. These searches include Coronavirus symptoms, antibacterial essential oils, antiviral herbs, home remedies, and hand washing techniques.

SEO Trends in Other Industries

Finance

The SEO of the finance sector has also seen positive growth. Traffic is up by +29% according to data.

Travel

One of the hardest-hit by this outbreak is the travel industry. It has prompted mass cancellations of flights, hotel accommodations, vacation packages, and cruise bookings. People who are also thinking of going on vacations have put off their plans indefinitely. To date, travel is still restricted and the impact is felt globally. Traffic from searches for bookings and rates for airlines, hotels, and other travel-related activities have seen a downward trend of -46%. However, searches relating to hotel and airline cancellations, cruise ship/ hotel quarantines, and travel restrictions have seen a spike and make up for most of the queries regarding travel.

The Take-away

The impact of Covid 19 on search engine optimization has yielded some interesting results. Some of the top performers in the game are expected winners but there are others that have been complete surprises.

What can you do with this information? As strategists, you should take this information into consideration when moving forward. Use these to guide you as you plan your next strategy according to the current situation and tailor them to the needs of your target audience. The content you produce should remain of great value to your readers and not driven solely by metrics. SEO is there to help with visibility online, but keep in mind that ultimately, great content is one of the best drivers of traffic any website could have.