June 10th, 2020

As businesses are opening, it’s still not business as usual

As many states begin to open for business — though perhaps not business as usual — it’s likely that the impact of COVID-19 will be felt on the global economy for years. In the short term, people across the country have been forced to quickly make significant changes to the ways that they interact with the outside world. In a time when there are more questions than answers, online search, in particular, is bound to bear the weight of most people’s questions.

By now we know that Google can make or break a business or individuals’ reputation, so it is more critical than ever to understand how user behavior on search engines will evolve during and in the wake of this unprecedented pandemic.

Google recently published a new study aimed at understanding how Americans are behaving online in 2020. The study, which analyzed consumer online search patterns over the past few months, has already uncovered some key trends in this significant period of self-quarantine, social distancing and increased online activity.

Consumers are spending more time online

It’s estimated that Google receives roughly 70,000 searches per second, which translates into 5.8 billion searches per day. That number is only likely to increase with people spending more time at home, consuming content online, and Google’s study has already identified some key trends that point to an increase in online searches.

According to the study, there has been a 60% increase in the amount of content that people are consuming daily, and consumers are spending 20% more time using apps than they did a year ago. According to Nielson, Americans now watch roughly 12 hours of media content a day. Google hasn’t released any of its traffic numbers since the outbreak, but as people consume record amounts of content, Google searches will likely increase dramatically as well. 

People are settling into the work-from-home routine

In the U.S., search interest for “telecommuting” has reached an all-time high on both Google and YouTube. A large portion of the workforce will likely continue to work from home, even as businesses begin to open up. Prior to COVID-19, most of us would likely Google someone we were planning on meeting. With less opportunity to make that face-to-face connection, what people find out about an individual or organization online is now all the more important. 

Google already accounts for 90% of desktop searches, and with more people conducting searches from home, Google will undoubtedly be the resource people turn to when looking for information about a business or individual. So, is that negative article on page two of Google search results not impactful? User behavior on page one and two of search results is bound to evolve, and those who have done their homework to solidify their search results will stand out above the rest.

People are building relationships virtually

Google’s study found that 50% of people in the U.S. said they used video to communicate with family and friends these past few months. Relationships are being fostered online. Whether you’re a financial advisor trying to attract new clients to your firm, or a political candidate fundraising for a November election, you need to be ready to interface with people in a digital setting. 

A well optimized website is more important than ever. Social media profiles will be scrutinized more closely. Wikipedia and other third-party profiles will shape how people view you or your organization’s brand. Will your company be able to generate virtual meetings, new leads and revenue with a poor online presence? 

What does it all mean?

Google is already one of most trusted companies in America, and with an increased commitment to pushing important COVID-related news to the top of page one, it seems inevitable for that trust to continue to grow. For companies and individuals, a proactive digital strategy that strongly emphasizes the importance of Google search results will find themselves in the best position to bolster their reputation and thrive in these uncertain times.