Seo: How Search Behavior Has Changed During COVID-19 Pandemic

by Silvia Mazzetta Date: 08-05-2020 seo sem optimization covid19

Google positioning is experiencing a before and after with the coronavirus crisis.
The way we search in Google has changed;
The way Google the search engine gives us the results has changed ;
The tools that webmasters have at their disposal have changed.

Google claims that it has never registered as many searches for a particular subject continuously over time as with COVID-19.

Coronavirus: a single word that, from the end of February until today, has registered a higher volume of searches in Google than YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp or Instagram - according to data from Google Trends.

Never in Google's history have so many searches been made for a particular topic on a continuous basis over time as with COVID-19.

The crisis of the coronavirus has changed the future of society and the economy, hitting hard all sectors and annihilating the hotel industry and tourism.

It has also changed the SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

The task of bringing users from the Google search engine to a specific web page is experiencing a real earthquake these weeks: from absolute collapses of searches such as "cheap flights" - since 2004, there has never been such a drop in interest for this keyword - to unimaginable rises for searches such as "masks".

Not even the most seasoned digital marketing expert was prepared for something like this. The web analytics tools allowed to obtain detailed reports of the users' search intention, and to develop future strategies based on them, but what nobody counted on was that the world would lose interest in travel, hotels, restaurants and a host of activities that involve breaking the social distance.

These drops in searches, added to the increases in searches related to home activities (movies to watch online, sports at home, recipes...), have completely altered the records of the search volume of the so-called keywords (keywords that users use to make their searches).

Same game, new rules

Before the coronavirus pandemic, any health-related Google search (in this case, a symptom: "headache") displayed a simple list of links.

Now, try typing in the word "coronavirus".

A totally different page will appear both in the graphics and in the way the news is displayed.

This is a totally new results page that has been built up as the pandemic has developed, and includes elements not seen before in Google such as:

  • A left-hand side menu with direct access to useful information, including symptoms, prevention and treatments.
  • A box with local and national resources (linking to government sources).
  • A map and case counter.
  • Highlights of Twitter postings by local and health authorities

Google is changing the rules of positioning by introducing new factors that arrive to put order in the searches related to the COVID-19. These rules for now only affect this issue, but there is a possibility that some changes will remain after this crisis.

A company so marked by the controversy of fake news as Google has not wanted to risk an inch in this crisis, deciding to remodel from one day to another its results page in order to avoid giving room to false news about coronavirus.

The evolution of Google's news aggregator, Discover, is similar. Although to a lesser extent, it also dawned with a new widget: a button that allows direct access to related news.

All these changes open a new horizon for the SEO that is coming in the media. Google is taking note of the lessons it is learning from this crisis, many of which will serve to improve its current algorithm in the future.

The importance of local results

Looking at the changes Google has made in recent weeks, one of the most relevant is the Local News "box" of results to show local news in searches related to the coronavirus.

It is a new widget that joins the News widget that until now was already shown by default in any search with current news; since about a month ago, both are coexisting in the same results page.

As explained by Google, this is a change aimed at highlighting to the user news from COVID-19 that concern you directly by the location in which you are. A user looking for news about coronavirus from Madrid, for example, will see - in addition to national news - a section focused exclusively on news affecting this community.

On the Hunt for E-Commerce

A major change during these weeks has been the opening of Google Shopping to free results: in times of confinement, the e-commerce boom has led Google to allow the incorporation of organic results in a tool that until now had been exclusively paid.

Google Shopping is Google's product search tool, it allows to connect sellers (online stores) with users interested in buying a product. It was a payment tool, but since a few weeks ago it allows any e-commerce to upload its product inventory at no cost.

The results highlighted on the Google homepage will still be paid for, but the "Shopping" tab will make way for anyone who wants to sell their products through the search engine. For now it has been enabled in the United States, soon it will reach the rest of the world.

Different time slots to publish content, longer time spent on the web, movements in users' interests... Google search data has changed overnight around the world. We spend many more hours at home, and with it we search the internet in a totally different way.

The volume of searches for the keyword "laughing films" cannot be compared with other better historical moments (coinciding with summer seasons): never before has there been so much searching for laughing films on Google. It's an example of thousands.

The problem is that these alterations in searches have completely modified the historical record of hundreds of keywords, making it more difficult to determine the actual volume of interest of a keyword from now on.

Not to mention the impact this crisis will have on users' search habits in the future. Some say that they will search more at home, more securely and, where possible, more locally.

Health vector created by freepik -
by Silvia Mazzetta Date: 08-05-2020 seo sem optimization covid19 hits : 4218  
Silvia Mazzetta

Silvia Mazzetta

Web Developer, Blogger, Creative Thinker, Social media enthusiast, Italian expat in Spain, mom of little 9 years old geek, founder of  @manoweb. A strong conceptual and creative thinker who has a keen interest in all things relate to the Internet. A technically savvy web developer, who has multiple  years of website design expertise behind her.  She turns conceptual ideas into highly creative visual digital products. 


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