The COVID-19 vaccine has started to ship, but the coronavirus continues to spread across much of the U.S. Consumer behavior is continually changing in response, as uncertainty remains high and patients weigh their health and safety options on all fronts.
To understand patients’ current needs, healthcare marketers are looking to Google Search in December for guidance.
Search trends give us a real-time view of consumer sentiment and frequent questions that must be answered by health authorities. Healthcare consumers, specifically, are grappling with changing hours, medical facility policies, telemedicine services, and now, vaccine considerations.
Using Google Search as a guide, marketers can address common concerns on their local listings, website, brand communications and social media pages.
In this article, we break down real-time 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 December.
Coronavirus Search Trends for Healthcare Organizations
COVID-19 continues to arise frequently in search queries and business listings, concerning regulations, local precautions and vaccine information.
Here are some notable December 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, but are rising. There are now only about 1.75% fewer monthly searches for healthcare clients than in February.
Clicks on healthcare companies’ Google My Business (GMB) profiles rebounded more rapidly, however, now up 19% from late-February click volume. Meanwhile, clicks to phone calls have increased by 5% from pre-outbreak levels. Weekly clicks on GMB profiles for driving directions are down about 16% since Feb. 24, but climbing toward average levels.
Especially as COVID-19 vaccines become available, healthcare marketers need to prioritize updating local listings with phone numbers, URLs, hours and contact information for each facility.
Google Searches for Coronavirus in December
To survey the coronavirus search landscape in December, Google Trends has daily updates for the top related keywords and queries broken down by category and geography.
Global search volume for vaccine information reached an all-time high last month and continues to grow. Here are search queries related to vaccines that have spiked this week:
- COVID-19 vaccine reactions – up 2,450%
- How many people have had the Covid vaccine? – up 1,750%
- COVID-19 vaccine side effects list CDC – up 400%
The trending coronavirus questions on Google currently relate to vaccines, symptoms and spreading the virus. The past week’s highest-searched COVID-19 questions were:
- Can dogs transmit coronavirus?
- Is vomiting a symptom of coronavirus?
- Where did coronavirus come from?
- Can you get the coronavirus twice?
- Is influenza a coronavirus?
Google is also keeping track of where people are searching for COVID-19 testing information in real time. This geographical indicator can help predict when local consumers will need authoritative information from providers about tests, treatments or vaccines.
Follow these instructions to get your coronavirus testing site listed on Google Search. And keep an eye out for similar features related to vaccine availability. Google also recently added a new feature tracking real-time searches related to different symptoms, which you can find here.
The shorthand “covid” and “corona” continue to appear frequently, so they should join your keyword lists for any social listening initiatives.
Location-based news and information about COVID-19 risks, meanwhile, remain high in demand from searchers. As local authorities on the topic, healthcare brands need to include location-specific keywords in marketing content, business listings, review responses and social media.
Other COVID-19 Google Trends
Most searches regarding COVID-19 concern health guidelines and news of its spread. But other search trends offer healthcare organizations insights that can further weigh into a patient’s decision to seek medical care.
You should be prepared for questions that arise as new updates reach consumers. For example, searches for “new coronavirus strain” increased by 750% this week, and searches for “can dogs get coronavirus” nearly doubled.
Meanwhile, face masks remain highly relevant to U.S. searchers as states reinvigorate and reconsider lockdown plans. Be on the lookout for search terms including “mask mandate” and “mask policy,” which have spiked in recent weeks. And make good use of related Google My Business attributes, like “staff wear masks” and “masks” required.
Employment and economic uncertainty also remain top of mind for searchers. We see continued high search volume for unemployment benefits and topics like “coronavirus relief package” and “stimulus bill.”
Search Trends for Helping Healthcare Providers
Not all coronavirus search trends in December are negative. Digital marketers can engage the many people looking to support local healthcare organizations during the pandemic.
Brands should answer their 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: