Amid dramatic changes in consumer behavior brought on by the coronavirus outbreak and the current reopening of many businesses and public spaces, healthcare marketers are looking to trends on Google Search for guidance on how to communicate with consumers.
The nuances of safely returning to medical facilities or using telemedicine are confusing for even the wisest of consumers, so search trends give us a genuine picture of the thoughts, questions and concerns that enterprise health systems must address in their listings and communications.
In this article, we break down June’s Google Search data to understand what types of information healthcare consumers are looking for. Here are coronavirus search trends that marketing teams should monitor.
Overall Search Trends for COVID-19
COVID-19 has dominated search queries in the past few months, but other types of Google searches are beginning to return to normal levels. As states began to reopen stores and public spaces, coronavirus search volume in early June dipped lower than both weather and news for the first time since March 1.
According to Binary Fountain client data, total searches for healthcare organizations dipped more than 60% in March but have started climbing back up, now at 38% fewer weekly searches than in February. Clicks on healthcare companies’ GMB profiles are rebounding more rapidly, now down just 8% from February click volume. Meanwhile, clicks to phone calls have increased more than 20% from pre-outbreak levels, which should motivate healthcare marketers to ensure their local listings have updated phone numbers.
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 June 17, the most top coronavirus queries on Google were “coronavirus cases,” “Florida coronavirus,” “coronavirus US,” “coronavirus update,” “coronavirus USA,” “coronavirus news” and “coronavirus symptoms,” followed by searches for state-specific information.
The search engine is also keeping track of trending questions related to coronavirus risk, which in the past week were:
- Are pregnant women at high risk for coronavirus?
- Who is at risk for coronavirus?
- Are people with asthma at risk for coronavirus?
- Who is at higher risk of developing complications from COVID-19?
- What is the risk of getting coronavirus on a plane?
Meanwhile, “coronavirus risk level by activity” has spiked 1,650% in the past week in the U.S., as consumers begin to wade into public spaces and regular activities. Last week’s top searches for “when can we…” included “when can we stop wearing masks?”, “when can we travel again?”, and “when can we stop social distancing?”
Related June Search Trends
Though a majority of searches regarding COVID-19 are currently related to states reopening and health guidelines, there are other search trends healthcare organizations should monitor.
The search engine has reported a recent spike in “steroids and coronavirus,” “dexamethasone” and “use of hydroxychloroquine,“ revealing that treatment options are still top of mind for consumers. They’re also digging further into the virus itself, with “cytokine storm meaning” searches doubling between June 16 and 17.
Search trends also suggest – expectedly – that people are looking for entertainment or a vacation. “Places to vacation during COVID” spiked 650%, “places to travel during COVID” spiked 450% and “safe vacation ideas during COVID” spiked 350% in the past week in the U.S.
Other top-trending U.S. queries in the past week have included “banning alcohol on planes,” “what states have a spike in coronavirus,” “Disneyland reservations July” and even “Garth Brooks drive in concert tour.”
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. Healthcare brands should answer these questions with content – on Google listings and otherwise – about how to support local providers.
Google recommends the following methods of using its platform to help consumers and support healthcare workers:
- 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.
Some search trends might offer inspiration for how to lighten up some of your COVID-19 communications. “Welcome back to work meme” was a breakout query on June 15 and “how to hug during pandemic” increased by 5,000% last week.
For more content on managing your brand during COVID-19, you can visit our COVID-19 Resources Page and browse these resources:
- Tracking Coronavirus Search Trends on Google – May 2020
- [Checklist] COVID-19 Features for Online Healthcare Listings
- [Ebook] How COVID-19 is Shifting Priorities for Healthcare Marketers
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist