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Google Reveals How Search Behavior Has Changed During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Google has published data on recent search trends, revealing the top 5 ways search behavior is changing during the pandemic.

This data has been compiled in an effort to assist marketers with being more helpful to customers during this time.

No organization is exempt from the shift in search behavior caused by the pandemic, and consumer behavior is changing daily as well.

Google summarized its finding by listing these as the 5 shifts in consumer search behavior.

  • Assembling critical information
  • Discovering new connections
  • Adjusting to changes in their routines
  • Praising everyday heroes
  • Taking care of themselves and others

Google Reveals How Search Behavior Has Changed During COVID-19 Pandemic

Here’s more details about each of these findings.

Assembling Critical Information

Consumers have a critical need for new content to help them get by and adapt to the recent changes in life.

Retailers are moving to delivery methods, schools are closed, much of the workforce is staying at home, among other changes.

Businesses and organizations need to provide clear, specific information with details about where, how, and when to get the things they need.

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To that end, Google notes that search interest is spiking for the following topics:

  • Retail
  • “Can you freeze” different types of food
  • Home delivery
  • Short term work employee
  • Mortgage rate suspension

Creating content that informs people about those topics is one of the ways marketers and brands can help consumers right now.

Google also offers these recommendations:

  • Acknowledge the new reality.
  • Give people credible, detailed, and current information about your operations. Reinforce that you’re there to help.
  • Regularly update communications across your website, blogs, social handles, and Google My Business page.
  • Be flexible. Help customers with cancellations, refunds, and customer service.

Connections & Relationships

As everyone suddenly finds themselves practicing social distancing, they’re discovering new connections and nurturing existing relationships.

For example, that could involve making virtual connections and/or strengthening connections within the household.

Search interest is spiking for the following topics:

  • “With me” videos on YouTube
    • “Study with me” videos up 54% year-over-year
    • “Bulk cook with me” and “disinfect with me” are also trending right now
  • Multiplayer video games
  • Virtual happy hour

Google’s recommendations for helping consumers:

  • Look for ways to connect your customers, locally and globally.
  • Consider if your brand has a role to play in creating or enhancing shared experiences, virtually or otherwise.

Adjusting to Changes in Routines

People’s online habits are changing as they adjust their routines and schedules to meet the demands of isolation.

Google notes there have been spikes in search interest for topics such as “do it yourself,” “stationary bicycles,” and “dumbbell sets.”

There has also been an interest in watching other people adapt to their new routines.

For example, interest in late-night shows has been up ever since the hosts began producing content from their home.

Google’s recommendations for helping consumers as they adjust to new routines:

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  • Let people know that solutions are available whenever, wherever.
  • Assess when people need you most, whether through your own first-party data (like site analytics or email opens) or Google Trends, and adjust your communications strategy accordingly.
  • Update or publish often. There’s a need for content that informs, entertains, connects, and promotes wellness.

Praising Everyday Heroes

People are praising everyone from health care workers, to cashiers, to delivery people, and others still going in to work each day.

Many are risking their own health to do their job, which has lead to a spike in search interest for “thank essential workers.”

Google Reveals How Search Behavior Has Changed During COVID-19 Pandemic

Google offers these recommendations for helping consumers with supporting everyday heroes:

  • Look for people who are helping, and find ways to support or celebrate them.
  • Consider who the heroes are among your employees, your customers, or even your local community.
  • Consider whether you have nonhuman heroes that can contribute, like your technology, your operational rigor, or your equipment.

Taking Care of Themselves and Others

People are strengthening their efforts to take care of the physical and psychological needs of themselves and others.

Search interest is spiking for activities that can help ease boredom, anxiety, and uncertainty.

Those activities can be either virtual activities, or real-life activities.

People have taken to searching more for topics like “puzzles” and “relaxation,” as well virtual tours of galleries and museums.

Google offers these recommendations for helping people find new ways to enrich their lives:

  • Facilitate virtual collaborations with outdoor spaces and the cultural institutions people yearn to visit.
  • Join the conversation about home-based health and well-being.
  • Pivot to platforms and formats that make sense for people staying home.

Final Notes

Google wraps up its report by emphasizing that the more useful businesses can be now the better off they’ll be on the long run.

According to survey results from late-March, 84% of US consumers say how companies act during the current market is important to their loyalty moving forward.

Source: Think With Google

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Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster

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Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.

Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update

On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.

The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.

A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:

“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.

Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.

Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”

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Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.

The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.

The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.

The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.

Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Screenshot of Google's John Mueller trying to recall if December Product Review Update affects more than the English language

Product Review Update Targets More Languages?

The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.

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But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.

This is his question:

“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.

So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.

…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”

John Mueller answered:

“I don’t know… like other languages?

My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.

But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.

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But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.

I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.

But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.

And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.

So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.

But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”

Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?

While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.

Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.

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One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.

It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.

Citations

Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update

Product reviews update and your site

Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines

Write high quality product reviews

John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global

Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark

[embedded content]

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