COVID-19’s spread is ramping up once again and continuing to change consumer behavior in the U.S. Uncertainty remains high as outbreaks resurge, state regulations change, and consumers hesitate to return to healthcare facilities.
To understand patients’ current needs, healthcare marketers are looking to Google Search in October for guidance.
Search trends give us a more complete picture of consumer sentiment and knowledge gaps. Healthcare consumers, specifically, are grappling with changing hours, medical facility policies and telemedicine services. Using Google Search as a guide, healthcare organizations can address common questions in their local listings and brand communications.
In this article, we break down recent search data on Google to understand what types of information healthcare consumers are looking for. Here are coronavirus search trends that digital marketers should monitor in October.
Search Trends for Healthcare Organizations
COVID-19 continues to arise frequently in search queries and business listings, though related searches have gradually declined in recent months.
Here are some notable October trends on Google Search, based on data from our healthcare partners:
According to Binary Fountain client data, total searches for healthcare organizations haven’t yet returned to pre-pandemic levels. There are now about 20% fewer weekly searches for healthcare clients than in February, but totals are climbing.
Clicks on healthcare companies’ Google My Business (GMB) profiles rebounded more rapidly, however, now up 25% from late-February click volume. Meanwhile, clicks to phone calls have increased by a whopping 63% from pre-outbreak levels. Weekly clicks on GMB profiles for driving directions are down about 9% since Feb. 24, but climbing toward average levels.
Clearly, healthcare marketers need to prioritize updating local listings with phone numbers, URLs, hours and contact information for each facility.
Google Searches for Coronavirus in October
To survey the coronavirus search landscape, Google Trends has daily updates for the top 100 places searching for the virus and the top related queries.
In October, the top coronavirus searches on Google in the U.S. were related to symptoms, spreading and testing. The past week’s highest-trending COVID-19 questions were:
- How long are you contagious with covid 19?
- What country has the most covid deaths?
- How long after exposure should you get tested?
- Is diarrhea a symptom of covid?
- How many have died from covid?
The shorthand “covid” continues to appear frequently, so it should join your keyword lists for any social listening initiatives.
Additionally, the search for “free coronavirus testing near me” has surged this week. Google is keeping track of where people are searching for testing. This geographical indicator can help predict when local residents will need authoritative information from local healthcare providers.
Follow these instructions to get your coronavirus testing site listed on Google Search. Google also recently added a new feature tracking real-time searches related to different symptoms, which you can find here.
Location-based news and information about COVID-19 risks, meanwhile, remain in high demand from consumers. As local authorities on the topic, healthcare brands need to include this information in brand communications, business listings, review responses and social media.
Other COVID-19 Google Trends
Most searches regarding COVID-19 concern tracking the spread and health guidelines. But other search trends offer healthcare organizations insights into factors that can weigh into a patient’s decision to seek care.
Employment and economic uncertainty are top of mind for consumers, with continued high search volume for unemployment benefits, unemployment offices and coronavirus relief bills.
Unfortunately, school closures have become especially relevant to U.S. searchers. Be on the lookout for search terms including “school closure covid” and “coronavirus school closure,” which have spiked in the last month.
You should also be prepared for questions that arise as new updates reach consumers. For example, “coronavirus stimulus package,” “coronavirus worldometer” and “families first coronavirus response act” all are trending in the past week.
Searches to Help Local Providers
Not all coronavirus search trends in October are negative. Digital marketers can engage the many people looking to support local healthcare organizations during the pandemic. Brands should answer these questions – on Google My Business, local landing pages and social media – about supporting local providers.
Google recommends the following methods of using its platform to help consumers and support healthcare workers:
- Let people know that solutions are available whenever, wherever.
- Assess when people need you most, whether through your own first-party data or Google Trends.
- Frequently update or publish content that informs, entertains, connects and promotes wellness.
- Consider who the heroes are among your employees or your local community.
For more on managing your business listings and brand reputation during the pandemic, visit our COVID-19 Resources Page or browse these resources:
- Every Google My Business Attribute Available to Healthcare Businesses
- Here’s How to Get Your COVID-19 Testing Center Listed on Google
- New Google My Business Profile Editing Capabilities and Hours Options Available
- What are Apple Maps Ratings? New Maps Feature Includes Business Ratings, Photos
About the Author
Content Marketing Specialist