Huge traffic dips, major traffic gains, certain industries aren't quite sure how to respond - is this the new normal or will these spikes level out? The search volume volatility is coupled with the fact that internet traffic is spiking nearly 50%, according to Akamai. Individuals across the globe are home, in front of their computers and mobile devices, and turning toward search engines for news, shopping, information, updates, and data.
Searchers are changing their habits, even with more time spent online. We're seeing increased demand for grocery related searches and productivity tools, whereas the travel and hospitality industries are taking a drastic hit in their search traffic and interest. Brand searches for two major hotel chains are seeing significant drop offs in the past thirty days and a more than 60% drop in search traffic since the same time last year.
Shifting Marketing Dollars
When traffic falls drastically in such a short amount of time and the demand for brand name searches is no longer there. Brands and companies need to stay relevant and in front of their target audience, even in times of uncertainty. This is where these companies can shift marketing dollars to paid remarketing campaigns to target visitors who have already visited their website, invest in strategic paid social and other push marketing efforts to remain top of mind. Additionally, content strategy needs to shift in an effort to capitalize on the change in search volume by targeting keywords that have seen an increased spike in traffic and interest. As illustrated below, "how to travel safe" surged in the same period of time. A change in content strategy to develop appropriate content would still draw searchers to the website and potentially make up for lost search volume around branded keywords.
Capitalizing on Opportunity
With the transition to work from home, businesses around the world are trying to figure out how to stay connected, see their teammates and clients, and use video to replace in person meetings. Individuals and businesses turn to search engines to determine what will be the best piece of software or equipment to implement as the transition continues with a remote workforce.
If we take a look at the major spike in Google Trends data around the search for "video conferencing" just over the past 90 days, the increase in volume is drastic. There is no way that major video conferencing providers were ready for the onslaught of searches and interest in their products and services for the new remote workforce.
That being said, these businesses are quickly trying to capitalize on the increase in interest and demand. Take a look at the number of paid search ads that appear at the top of SERP results for this specific keyword. These businesses were quick to react and shift their marketing dollars from paid search campaigns to try to convert the new surge in searchers into customers.
Missing An Opportunity
Throughout the State of New York, "Are fast food restaurants open today" skyrocketed 3950% according to Google Trends data. Yet, the content that appears on SERP results are news articles that may or may not answer the question. Local restaurants, offering carryout or delivery, and fast food chains are missing an opportunity to drive traffic from their content strategy or paid search advertising answering this question that New Yorkers are asking, which could drive business and traffic.
"How to cut men's own hair" has seen a 5x increase in search traffic with salons and barber shops closed. Salons and barber shops should be looking at relevant keywords right now to develop content that answers these questions. Position your business or brand as a thought leader by providing relevant information to searchers. Most of the major results to answer this question are videos. Your business could create a well optimized YouTube video to answer the question and demonstrate techniques. The YouTube video could lead to a "How to Cut Men's Hair" blog post with those keywords focused on in the meta title, description, H1s and content on the page. If your salon or barber shop offers an eCommerce store, you should link to the equipment and products needed or even create a bundled package of everything someone would need to cut their own hair.
Remain cognizant and aware of what consumers are searching, how you can provide them with the information (or product) they need which will pay dividends as soon as the barber shop or salon is fully operational. These investments now might not provide immediate return on investment financially, but are generating opportunities.
We need to realize that the new normal of individuals going online is likely to stay around for quite some time as we get past the initial influx of coronavirus related content and move into how consumers are changing their marketing approach to capitalize on their buyers being online right now. It's important to do the research and analyze the trends of search volume in specific categories as more people are confined to their homes, not planning vacations, not traveling and might be looking at more local information and insight as they make their buying decisions.
Think like your customers. What is it that they need or would find useful while homebound?