Search trends in a social distancing digital world

Well things are really getting strange out there, we are in uncharted territory and never before in a digital age have we seen possibilities of the country self isolating for a long period of time.

We’ve been asked a lot this week about what we think will happen in the market and whether our clients should stop all advertising and bunker in, go all out and shout from the rooftops, or change focus and tactics. What a question. We don’t have a crystal ball but we have been closely watching search and market trends and have some initial thoughts.

People are socially distancing from each other, so industries like restaurants and leisure are going to be hit hard. But people have still got to eat…. Search terms like ‘Uber eats; and ‘just eat York’ have seen search increases of 140% in the last 30 days. We’ve seen amazing examples of local eateries quickly changing their offering from inhouse  to starting to deliver by offering their menu online using PPC and local social media to increase their reach. Adapting like this will keep them alive while people don’t leave the house.

The trend for home improvements and DIY on the rise is not unusual for spring, but it has come unusually early this year. Garden furniture searches such as ‘the range garden furniture’ have seen increases of +150% searches over the last 30 days – it could be that the prospect of staying at home has got people wanting to make the experience as good as it can be. DIY stores, home improvement and gardening could do very well – as long as they deliver!

‘What to do with kids at home’ topics have increased dramatically over the last 30 days, as children’s entertainment venues close their doors, and the prospect of schools shutting, we will likely see a big increase for searches about entertainment for kids at home by parents and careers. With relatively little competition in paid search at the moment this is a market up for grabs.

The likely prediction across the search world is that Google will see a major decrease in advertising spend  in the coming months as businesses are cautious – however those left advertising, if relevant with a proposition adapted to life with social distancing could see massive returns –  the fewer people advertising, the cheaper the advertising is.

The opposite could happen if advertisers are cautious and hold away from spending online now in favour of the second part of the year –  we could see artificially inflated prices. The search engines work on a cost based on competition, if everyone bids, the prices rise, and advertisers could feel the effects long after coronavirus.

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