Performance Analysis

How The Corona Virus Is Impacting Search Trends

By on 25th March 2020

Reading Time: 7 minutes

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Corona Virus Search Trends

The Story Behind This Case Study

As an esatablised website optimisation consultant, I have a number of clients across a wide range of niches, and for every site I work on, I always set up a custom alert via Google Analytics which tells me when the site’s organic search traffic drops by 30% compared to the same day of the previous week.

I do this so that I can be alerted about any potential on site or technical issues, or if the site has been adversely affected by a Google Update. Needless to say, I’ve been getting a lot of these emails recently as the virus spreads globally and people’s attention, and searches, have shifted dramatically towards finding out more about Covid-19 and generally changing lifestyles globally.

But, whilst some niches are being adversely affected, for others it looks to be business as usual, whilst for a few, there has been a surge in searches for the products and services they offer.

The following are insights into niches which have seen drops, are seeing business as usual and some interesting spikes – all based on Google Search Console’s search impressions and click data.

For those that don’t know:

Impressions = the number of times the site appeared in a search result – i.e. if you search for “corona virus” – every site that appears in the search results listed on the page gets classed as one impression, regardless of if they get clicked

Clicks = the number of times there site’s search listing got clicked and the searcher went through to the site

Search impressions are good indicator of search trends as, for a site in a competitive niche of which many of these are, you can see how the volumes of collective relevant searches are impacting sites in terms of demand for what the products they sell or the services they provide.

Interestingly most impacts were seen on March 11th – which was also the day the outbreak officially became a global pandemic – so I guess that is when most people had to sit up and take notice.

The graphs below are all for the year to date since Jan 1st.

First off, those sites which have suffered:

Site Losing Impressions And Traffic


Fashion has seen varying rates of dips – the following 3 sites are all in the footwear sector:

fashion data

Though the drops are more dramatic in fast fashion clothing as these clients demonstrate:

more drops
further drops

From this, it looks like clothing isn’t the necessity it was – let’s face it, no one is going out, so no one needs a new outfit, but, you can still walk places, so people still need new shoes.


This is a niche that has been badly hit – the following site is essentially a travel agent for luxury accommodation on The Algarve:

travel traffic

Whilst this next client has a chain of hostels in large European cities – they tend to have strong year round traffic as young uns from around the globe (in particular from the Far East) plan their trips and book their accommodation – they’ve seen a downward trajectory since January when word of the virus first emerged globally:

drops in traffic

in comparison, this was their visibility and traffic in the same period last year which was very consistent


I’ve been working with this client for a number of years, and this is the first time they’ve seen a year on year decline.

Basically, no one is currently planning a holiday any time soon.

Bars & Restaurants

The following is a distillery in Manchester that offers tours and tasting experiences, though they still sell spirits via their online shop:

hospitality traffic

However, they also have a bar / restaurant that has bombed in terms of clicks and they had to close their doors prior to the official Government order:

clicks gone

No surprise that people aren’t going out.

The next site is a wedding / events venue:

wedding events venue

Events & PR

The following site is in events management, and it’s no surprise that they have seen a drop in traffic:


Home Improvements

With more time being spent at home, you’d think this would be a time to get some DIY done – well, maybe not quite (or maybe it’s not the weather for it) as this bathroom suppliers is anything to go by:


Meanwhile, this tile wholesalers has also seen a drop in interest:

drop in interest

Business As Usual

For some niches, it’s like this whole thing hasn’t happened and life goes on as normal:

Financial Compliance

Whilst the markets may have crashed, money still makes the world go round:


Legislative Compliance

I only have data since mid Feb, but looks like people are keen to continue playing by the rules


Sexual Health Help & Advice

The kids aren’t playing by the rules round here and are still roaming in gangs of an evening, I fully expect this to spike when all this is over.


Sites Gaining Impressions and Traffic

Despite living in the midst of a global pandemic, life goes on, and these websites have all started to see a spike in both impressions and clicks now that people have realised that they are going to have to stay in for a while:

In The Garden

The following site sells garden furniture, a place many of us will be, particulary if this good weather keeps up (sod’s law that the weather got nice post lockdown):


The next two sites both sell gardening supplies – plants, bulbs, pots etc:


Whilst these guys sell artifical grass:


It’s good to know that whilst animals can’t catch or spread the virus (unless you eat them alive), people are still looking out for their pets, as this online pet shop shows us:


Eating At Home

When in self isolation – folk look like they start to think about their eating habits – this site provides healthy meals prepared and delivered:

eating at home

Whilst this site has a wide range of healthy recipes for those on a budget, which started to see more impressions over the last few weeks:


Passing The Time At Home

This site sells sample packs for the budding music producer to use on their tracks and it looks like overthe last week, a few more people are planning to knock a few tunes out with little else to pass the time:

at home

And Finally

You’re probably all wondering, but my site’s been fine, I don’t get much traffic anyway.

organic traffic

I’ve had a handful of clients ask me to pause activity for the foreseeable, which is more than understandable and I am more than happy to do, whilst as you can see from the above, there’s plenty that need to carry on as normal.

Hopefully your website and/or business hasn’t been too affected by all this – in any case, we will get through this, but it will be interesting to see which trends continue once this whole thing starts to clear up – I fully expect health and wellbeing sites to blossom moving forward, as this whole episode wakes many up to the fact they need to look after themselves for a longer, healthier life.

See you on the other side.

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