When COVID-19 became pandemic in the past few weeks our lives have change.  Many small businesses have been reducing or suspending operations and are already feeling the pressure on their bottom line.

As people’s behaviors change, their search behaviors change too. We’ve already seen how COVID-19 has impacted Google Ads Results for different industries but there is plenty of room for small businesses to adjust to the challenges and we will check several trends that have emerged over recent days and weeks.

Store visits plummets by 90% in one month

Naturally, as people started social distancing and avoid unnecessary trips, many businesses were forced to close their physical stores or limit their in-store capacity due to limited physical traffic. Advertisers began noticing a small drop off in store visits in late February. By the first week of March, store visits were down 24% and slowly as the crisis continued the past week it hit 90% down in just a time period of one month.

How to adapt to this new situation – Get your small business online

  • Design a simple website
  • Get your business on Google My Business
  • Engage your customers on social media
  • Get your products online with Google Merchant Center
  • Promote your business online

Your small business doesn’t need to have a complex website, so use some free website tool builder or pay for one and make a simple website. When you are done, create Google My Business account, you can display your business hours, address, posts, photos and reviews across Google search. Your customers expect that your business might change during this times and they’re looking for updates to confirm if you are open. So they will check social media for your activity and if you are not active there, they might think you are closed for now. Traditional retail is struggling with minimal store visits, but ecommerce is an opportunity to keep your sales coming in since interent is still doing just fine with shopping and everyone is inside in front of their tablets and screens. And to finish the circle, promote your online business with advertising like Google Ads, Microsoft Advertising or Facebook Ads.

COVID-19 dominates new searches

The news about the virus is spreading like a virus, exponentially and everyone is pretty much getting all news in real time. Other the past few weeks, searches containing “coronavirus” and “COVID” have certainly taken off.

But even if we look past the searches directly about the virus, the implications of our current situation are bringing people to Google with questions you don’t often see asked.

How to adapt to this new situation – Adjust your PPC campaigns for new search terms and volume

  • Review your search terms report regularly
  • Find new negative keywords before they start trending
  • Follow trending COVID-19 searches

We don’t know what will be trending tomorrow, so it is important to understand what traffic your ads are getting and add new negative keywords quickly to prevent your campaigns from reaching irrelevant searchers. All your new keywords run the risk of attracting irrelevant searches and wasting your campaign budget. Google Trends recently released a new Google Trend Coronavirus Hub, dedicated to these specific COVID-19 search trends so review the hub regularly to see how search interests are reacting to the changing news.