People are spending more time at home than ever, so search trends give us a genuine picture of the thoughts, problems, questions and fears that enterprise businesses must address in their listings and communications.
In this article, we break down current data and trends from Google to understand what types of information healthcare consumers are looking for. Here are coronavirus search trends that marketing teams should monitor.
Overall Google Trends for Coronavirus
COVID-19 has consistently dominated search queries in the past few months, as most types of Google searches steeply decreased before beginning to recover in May.
According to Binary Fountain client data, total searches for healthcare organizations dipped more than 60% in March before climbing back up, now at 13% fewer weekly searches than in February. Similarly, clicks on healthcare companies’ GMB profiles were down 4% between February 24 and May 3, having reached a low point in April at about half their usual search volume.
For a full picture of the search landscape, Google Trends has daily updates for the top 100 places searching for coronavirus and the top related queries – what people type when searching for the virus.
On May 12, trending coronavirus queries on Google were “coronavirus cases,” “coronavirus update,” “coronavirus US,” “coronavirus USA,” “coronavirus news,” “coronavirus deaths,” “coronavirus map” and “coronavirus symptoms,” followed by searches for individual state information.
The search engine also keeps track of trending questions, which on May 12 were:
- Where did the coronavirus come from?
- How many coronavirus deaths?
- Is headache a symptom of coronavirus?
- Which state has the most coronavirus cases?
- Is the coronavirus slowing down in the US?
Aside from answering frequent questions in your listings and marketing communications, healthcare marketers should monitor changes brought on by Google’s core update in early May. Though its full effects aren’t yet clear, SEMRush data shows the industries most impacted by the update were travel, real estate and health.
Searches for Symptoms and Treatment
Millions of people type their health symptoms into Google every day, making it a key indicator for healthcare organizations looking to optimize their COVID-19 information.
For example, when an area doesn’t have many cases, there more informational searches like, “What is coronavirus?” When cases become widespread, queries like, “What are the symptoms of coronavirus?” begin to appear more frequently, according to Google data editor Simon Rogers.
Google search, in some cases, might shed light on widespread symptoms before media reporting or local government responses, according to SEMrush. A study by the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto found that searches for “I can’t smell” were elevated in Italy days before the news reported the symptom.
Monitoring such trends could also aid the prioritization of medical supplies to the hardest-hit areas and guide public health guidelines. More specific search trends, such as testing, can also be analyzed as a predictor of local healthcare consumer needs.
Finding Positive Coronavirus Searches
It’s easy to forget that not all coronavirus search trends are negative. Marketers – especially in healthcare – should remember that people search for how they can help in disaster scenarios.
Searches for “how can I help” spiked in late March and early April of 2020, according to the Washington Post, surpassing the search volume after Hurricane Harvey flooded Houston. That search, along with food donation, helping the community and how to volunteer, are higher than ever before, Google’s Simon Rogers said. Healthcare brands should answer these questions with content – on Google and otherwise – about how to support local providers.
- Let people know that solutions are available whenever, wherever.
- Assess when people need you most, whether through your own first-party data or Google Trends.
- Frequently update or publish content that informs, entertains, connects and promotes wellness.
- Consider who the heroes are among your employees, your customers or your local community.
- Consider whether your technology, your operational rigor or your equipment can be highlighted as a contributor to the cause.
Other Related Google Trends
The other side of Google search worth monitoring is fallout from the virus, such as psychological problems and other sophisticated issues from living in lockdown.
The search engine has reported a spike in “loneliness,” “having trouble sleeping” and “boredom,” and Google searches for “quarantine fatigue meaning” doubled between May 4 and May 11. Even seemingly simple queries are worth addressing in healthcare listings and marketing: Searches for the “right way to wash hands” has increased 1,350% in the past month worldwide.
With retailers adjusting operations, schools and buildings closing, and workers staying home, consumers are also searching more for how-to content, like “How do I cut my own hair?” or “How do I bake bread?” or “How do I keep the kids entertained?” Understanding those search trends, along with trends for symptoms, testing and other COVID-19-related questions, will allow your marketing team to anticipate consumer concerns and supply answers through this uncertain time.
For more content on managing your brand during COVID-19, you can visit our COVID-19 Resources Page and browse these resources:
- [Webinar] COVID-19, Telemedicine, and Your Online Presence
- [Checklist] COVID-19 Features for Online Healthcare Listings
- [Ebook] How COVID-19 is Shifting Priorities for Healthcare Marketers
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist