How search behaviours have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic

After a difficult couple of years following the Covid-19 pandemic and as the modern workforce continues to readjust to the new work-life balance, there has been a noticeable shift in search behaviours.

With a significant change in how people now work and socialise and with individuals spending more time at home than ever before, let’s delve into how search trends have changed over the last two years and what the long-term projections may be.

With the ‘lifestyle’ and ‘travel’ sectors being impacted more than most, let’s start here and look into these search terms and the term ‘work’ as a whole on Google Trends and analyse the peaks and troughs.

Lifestyle Search Trends

The leisure and hospitality sectors continue to be impacted by the pandemic, which has left this segment of the economy feeling bruised. With bars, restaurants and shops going through their toughest time since the recession in 2008, the industry is still attempting to bounce back despite efforts from the Government to get people spending again.

The below graph looks at three phases, which considered a small cross-section of lifestyle inside and out of the home over the past 4 years.

The results show a noticeable and expected change in socialising behaviour, with people spending less time in the high street and more time at home. With gatherings now permitted in groups of 30 outdoors in line with the latest Government guidance, search queries for terms including ‘garden furniture’ saw a massive increase.

Whilst the garden furniture and home interiors sectors have seen a massive boom as a result of this shift, supply and demand issues resulting from Covid and Brexit factors has likely put limitations on this booming market.

Travel Search Trends

With international travel impacted by the closing of the borders and only necessary overseas travel permitted, there has been a substantial spike in people searching for ‘days out in my local area’. With a traffic light system still in place for international travel, how has these restrictions impact search terms such as ‘holiday flights’?

Unlike the peaks and troughs seen for ‘lifestyle’ phrases, ‘travel’ search terms have plummeted and remained this way since the start of lockdown. We anticipate that this search term would have likely been replaced by phrases such as ‘holiday insurance claim’ for those impacted by cancelled holidays and flights. But as we continue to transition from lockdown from 19th July, will there be surge in people looking to board the mechanical bird for international travel once again, or will a degree of hesitancy from consumers remain? Watch this space…

Work Search Trends

The new world of working has seen one of the biggest logistical shifts since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. Offices became desolate nearly overnight, operational cost measures tightened and solutions to support productivity were put in place. These aspects posed a huge challenge for businesses across the UK, for employers and employees alike. Despite the introduction of the Government furlough scheme and with many industries continuing to struggle to bounce back, there has since been a noticeable spike in search phrases including ‘redundancy’ and ‘work from home’.

Over the next month and as restrictions continue to lift, we expect to see the ‘working from home’ and ‘remote working’ phrases maintaining their volume. With ‘furlough’ and ‘redundancy’ volumes already having dropped as workforce confidence has improved, the new remote working landscape will likely have a knock-on effect for other search behaviours including ‘virtual offices’.

So, what’s next?

For online businesses, it’s important to keep track of where search trends are going. Not only will this affect SEO strategies in the long term, but also PPC strategies in the immediate short term. As such, it will also give a good indication of how to react to the market, manage stock inventory, adjust internal operations and plan for customer communications.

Looking at the Government announcement regarding restrictions and the search sentiment of online audiences, stakeholders can be empowered with the decisions they need to make to ensure their business continues to succeed. For example, we might see ‘garden furniture’ phrase popularity maintained longer into the winter months, so putting a plan in place to meet consumer demand for patio heater and fire pit stock will be important.

For internal or external recruiters, has the work environment has been completely turned on its head and if so, are employees are now considering ‘remote working’ in their criteria and should this search term now be included as part of longer tail keywords for applicants looking for new roles?

Whilst some of these behaviours are inevitably temporary, especially where ‘travel’ related phrases, the rise of other search behaviours may be here to stay indefinitely as we transition into the post-Covid world.

If you’d like more information on how Gough Bailey Wright could help your business, please contact the team on 01527 579 555 or email info@gough.co.uk.