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COVID’s Impact on Search and SEO: A Deep Dive into the Data

Behind each key-word question is a consumer’s seek purpose; the cause someone typed a string of phrases into the hunt bar. The virtual advertising platform sees how human beings’ courting to the pandemic modified over time. Want even greater search engine marketing developments and site visitors benchmarks?

The surge and decline of key phrases is sort of a temper ring for the way the arena has felt approximately the pandemic. As vaccines rolled out, human beings searched much less for COVID checking out and greater for inoculation. Search purpose shifted from gambling offense, closer to defense.

As eating places closed and we remoted ourselves inside, call for meals transport skyrocketed (surprisingly, now no longer for Domino’s pizza!). As tour regulations eased, human beings shifted far from restriction-mode to cocktail-on-the-seashore mode.

Keyword developments display the internal workings of pandemic mindsets. Google has become the nameless helpline for COVID-associated worries, hopes, and lifestyles planning.

The pandemic additionally brought a wholly new vernacular—it modified the manner we speak. With that, an array of seeking phrases turned into creation. “PCR” and “rapid-test” had been at the guidelines of our tongues and palms as human beings looked for approaches to apprehend their fitness status.

COVID seek developments even confirmed who we (well, who Google) placed agree within. The seek engine effects page (SERP) for the key-word “coronavirus” gave weight to the nearby government over countrywide ones. It favored facts from a privately held company, as opposed to the arena famed John Hopkins University.

TSDigitals analyzed seek, key-word, and natural site visitors facts over 18 months (March 2020 – August 2021) to look at how online consumer conduct advanced via the lens of COVID. Let’s begin with a brand new manner to speak.

New COVID-related keywords

In the US alone, people Googled “covid vaccine near me” over 38 million times every single month. The following keywords had an average monthly search volume of over 1 million from March 2020 – August 2021, in the US.

Some of these terms were not relevant at the onset of the data period (March 2020), as there was no vaccine. That means the current average of some of the keywords is far higher than what you see here!

Of the 425 keywords that displayed the most search volume growth in the US since March 2020, here is a breakdown of the most popular terminology found within the keyword set.

Keywords related to vaccines became more popular than keywords related to COVID testing. This data highlights the yearning for a solution to COVID (vaccines), over a mitigation (tests). 

Keyword Changes Over Time

To capture evolving attitudes towards the pandemic, we tracked the increase and decrease in search volume for pandemic-related keywords from June – August 2021. Particularly, to see how the vaccine roll-out impacted what people were searching on Google. 

Of the 47 COVID-related keywords that decreased by 40% or more in the designated time frame, here’s what they had in common.

  • 8 keywords (like “covid relief bill” and similar) relate to the COVID stimulus. As there has been no indication of another stimulus in the US, this trend of decreased searches makes sense. 
  • 18 keywords (like “covid 19 india” and “covid colorado”) directly relate to or imply a need to understand the number of cases in a location. As the pandemic has dragged on, despite surges, people were less interested in the “numbers.” 
  • 9 keywords (like “nose burning coronavirus” and “is coronavirus testing free”) relate to testing or symptoms related to COVID. This decrease may imply that people already knew the routine when it came to testing or identifying signs of COVID infection.

Vaccine Keywords

We additionally checked out 325 of the maximum famous key phrases associated with COVID vaccines. Here the commonly seek extent changed into 44,994 searches consistent with month.

Of the pinnacle 10 vaccine-associated key phrases, nine of them are approximately vaccine availability locally, with each the names of the vaccine and/or established order stated withinside the question itself.

The tenth maximum famous vaccine-associated keyword, “covid vaccine facet results,” speaks to the choice to be knowledgeable approximately selections associated with private health, with 125K month-to-month common Google searches.

Key phrases that relate to the facet results of the vaccine have been obvious in over 8% of the maximum famous vaccine-associated key phrases, in addition indicating a choice to be knowledgeable. “Side effect” key phrases have been even greater famous than vaccine manufacturers, such as “Pfizer” or “Moderna.”

The Coronavirus SERP 

To get a photograph of the maximum outstanding pandemic authorities (withinside the eyes of Google), we tracked the maximum surprisingly ranked websites for the keyword “coronavirus” from March 2020 – to September 2021.

Here are the pinnacle 10 domain names:

Unsurprisingly, the CDC and the WHO are the pinnacle rating URLs on average.

When searching at simplest the pinnacle-rating URLs, of the pinnacle 20 domain names, 14 are authorities-run websites. Out of these 14 websites, a remarkable nine of them are nearby authorities’ websites, now no longer countrywide web websites. Of the ones nine, one is a hyper-nearby domain—country. gov (in case you encompass you may argue that 2 out of nine are hyper-nearby domain names).

Google opted for much less countrywide coverage, and extra nearby coverage, at the SERP for this crucial keyword, “coronavirus”. This increases the question—why become one country authorities ranked and some other now no longer? For example, New York, one of the hardest-hit states, become now no longer many of the pinnacle 20 domain names.

State-run websites additionally tended to rank higher than different countrywide fitness web websites which include the NIH or maybe the FDA.

Also noteworthy is the volume to which Google located believe withinside the privately run world meters. data, owned with the aid of using Dadax, LLC. Worldometers. data become desired with the aid of using Google over information accrued with the aid of using Johns Hopkins University—the simplest .edu in this list.

When searching on the pinnacle-rating domain names and thinking about all the URLs from the one’s domain names that rank many of the pinnacle 50 consequences, the consequences open up a bit.

For example, right here the CDC’s become the eighth best-ranked web page overall, now no longer the 16th. Also, the ArcGIS information dashboard, powered with the aid of using Johns Hopkins, ranks many of the pinnacle 20, at the side of Wikipedia and the extra acquainted Washington Post.

Still, nearby authorities’ websites ruled with a display of seven domain names.

Lastly, the IRS is regarded at the pinnacle 20 lists. This becomes in all likelihood a hallmark of the way essential the monetary aspect of the pandemic becomes to Google because the IRS web page becomes the epicenter of diverse stimulus checks.

It’s prudent to do not forget that the pinnacle of the SERP, the above the fold section, become ruled with the aid of using Google’s personal properties, powered with the aid of using diverse information sources:

Industry Snapshot: Restaurants 

One of the biggest changes to life during the pandemic was the ability to frequent eateries. As lockdowns became part of normal life there was an obvious shift to takeout and delivery options. 

To better qualify this shift, we analyzed the top growing restaurant-related websites as measured by their growth during the first 5 months of the pandemic relative to their organic presence during the 5 months leading up to the pandemic. 

Overall, there was a 26.65% increase in organic traffic within the vertical. Here are the top 10 growing sites within the restaurant keyword category, all related to food delivery.

5 of the 10 eatery-related sites with the most organic growth at the onset of the pandemic are related to online food delivery. DoorDash topped the list of such sites with 122.65% organic growth! 

However, the top growing site, with 264.26% organic growth was Gold Belly, a site where local eateries are featured for shipping across the US. This might point to the importance of supporting local and smaller establishments during the peak of the pandemic. 

The 2nd and 3rd listed sites, “alohaorderonline” and “toasttab” are both related to software solutions to help local restaurants thrive online.

The actual eateries that showed the most organic traffic growth at the onset of the pandemic include:

Absent from the list are some of the largest chains such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, etc. Perhaps because these fast-food establishments are not known for their delivery services. Dominos, however, clearly known for delivery, is also absent from this list.

As the world opens, these growth numbers stagger. Heading into the spring of 2021, and summer of 2021, the sites analyzed here were no longer on a growth trajectory. They began a reclining trend towards normalized levels.

Industry Snapshot: Travel

The travel industry was sent into a tail-spin as countries, cities, and airlines shut down. We analyzed keywords that had little to no searches (search volume) but showed the most growth during the pandemic. The idea is to show how the travel industry and people changed as a result of the pandemic. 

Looking at keywords with the highest average monthly search volumes (March 2020 – August 2021), there’s a predominance towards discussing travel bans and restrictions. Keywords such as “travel Hawaii gov,” “Pennsylvania travel restrictions,” and “EU travel restrictions” went from nothing to tens of thousands of searches per month. 

In fact, the average growth in the search volume of the 300 travel/COVID keywords we analyzed is just above 22,000%!

Of these 300 keywords, the following terms were the most frequent. This highlights how user behavior changed when it comes to travel queries and what information is the most relevant.

However, this trend is fading fast. As the world reopens, astounding search volume averages for these keywords have decreased. 

Looking at the same keyword set from June – to August 2021 (as inoculations rolled out and the US reopened more and more), the same dataset only grew 65%. Meaning, search volume growth for keywords related to bans, restrictions, and COVID was down over 99%! 

The data demonstrates a shift away from a “restrictions” perspective of travel. Good news for the travel industry! People are returning to their “normal” mindset around travel.

Organic Traffic on the Web

In 2020, the pinnacle 100K websites inside our dataset obtained a median of 1,559,337 visits in line with the month. In 2021, that variety jumped to 1,603,418—a 2.83% growth. However, a great deal of the growth is because of tiers earlier than the pandemic.

January 2020 – March 2020 the common quantity of internet site visitors changed to 1,308,556, with a month-to-month excessive of 1,405,230 (February 2020). April 2020 noticed a median of 1,693,276. Meaning, the pandemic led to a 29% growth in visitors.

After January 2021, visitor’s tiers got here lower back down. This is possibly the give-up of top COVID visitors and a go back to a normalized SERP. What that stage of normalization is, stays to be seen.


The site visitor’s fashion helps what’s being visible withinside the eCommerce area specifically. Overall, eCommerce noticed a good-sized shrinking of its collective natural site visitors. Year-over-year, general natural site visitors for eCommerce websites reduced 23.24%.

Amazon noticed a good greater good-sized downturn with a 37.5% lack of natural site visitors as compared to 2020. This represents Amazon dropping 18.58% of its natural site visitor’s marketplace share.

However, we aren’t at pre-pandemic ranges in this area either.

The primary three months of 2020 offered 15% much less natural site visitors to eCommerce websites than what become recorded in July – September 2021.

While the world’s eCommerce conduct is returning to pre-COVID ranges, we’re now no longer there yet. But, do we ever be?

It’s nevertheless uncertain if natural site visitors withinside the eCommerce sphere will ultimately go back to pre-COVID ranges or if the pandemic left us with a brand new normal (15% greater natural site visitors to eCommerce websites relative to pre-pandemic ranges). If the latter, a stabilization factor of natural eCommerce site visitors stays unknown.

Overall Takeaway 

The release of the COVID-19 vaccine positioned the arena on a brand new trajectory. It additionally reset the natural advertising and marketing panorama. Organic site visitors turned into up average in 2021, however, noticed a downturn that started with the gradual international reopening. As in-man or woman studies have become safer, humans spent much less time in the front of pc displays and greater day trip withinside the international.

Understanding this new context for natural site visitors is important to forecasting the natural boom and studying overall performance over the last year. Additionally, method loads are left unresolved. While it’s fairly not likely the natural panorama will go back to pre-COVID levels, we nevertheless don’t realize what’s going to happen.

The sudden shift in eCommerce websites and Amazon’s weakened grip at the SERP may also factor toward a brand new online purchasing panorama. Curb-facet pickup call for should drop off the face of the earth, or it can simply be getting started. Smaller eCommerce gamers may win SERP ground, or the massive boss Google Shopping should sweep all of it away.

Keep a near eye on changes, however, don’t rush to conclusions. It’s crucial to cautiously music what’s going on on your webpage and what’s going on withinside the surroundings themselves. The sands are nevertheless transferring and nobody is aware of how it’s going to all, in the long run, play out. Monitoring the state of affairs cautiously is the first-class factor you could do for the fulfillment of your webpage or your client’s webpage.

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Alice Wayn

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