How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected website traffic?

Jun 5, 2020 by
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected website traffic?

With almost the entire world sequestered behind closed doors due to the coronavirus crisis, logic should surely dictate that site traffic would be up across the board, right? That’s perhaps the one silver lining to be found amongst the chaos, confusion, and devastation wrought by this strange and confusing moment in history.

However, search traffic hasn’t exactly been spread evenly across the board, with vast amounts of searches being made relating to COVID-19 and its associated complications. In fact, as far as traffic is concerned, coronavirus might have had a positive or a negative impact. As ever, it really depends on the site and the sector.

Because search ultimately reflects human behaviour and that behaviour is affecting every industry in a different way.

So, let’s explore in greater detail how the pandemic has affected web traffic, search traffic and, by extension, SEO metrics, by focusing on a few key changes.

Essentials are big business

One thing that won’t have passed anyone by is how much emphasis is being placed on essential items, which is completely understandable given the current situation. Toilet paper, hand soap and, of course, face masks have seen significant surges in traffic and impressions, while searches for non-essential items have plummeted.

However, things that might be non-essential today could end up being essential tomorrow. As a response, those that are experiencing increased site traffic right now should be monopolising on this boom, while those that have struggled might want to focus their efforts on the things that are actually selling.

Healthy living makes an impression

Across the globe, gyms have been forced to close in order to satisfy increasingly stringent social distancing demands.

As a result, those of us who value our health and wellbeing have been forced to look elsewhere for our wellness fixes. This has meant a huge uptick in queries relating to health and wellness products.

In this environment, it’s important for these sectors to strive for authority with transparency because public trust has never been a more important commodity.

Travel is chaotic

Travel websites are taking some pretty major hits due to the almost complete shutdown of the global industry in recent weeks. However, impressions for search terms such as “cheap flights” have soared as savvy holidaymakers look to make the most of the lockdown and the desperate airlines.

Generally speaking though, the industry has been feeling the impact in a powerful way and travel SEOs have had to shift their tactics as a result.

Restaurants pivot to delivery

Third-party delivery services such as Deliveroo and UberEats have been a literal lifeline for some restaurants and takeaway services and, as a result, impressions for those services have obviously skyrocketed.

So many restaurants have been forced to either close or pivot to online delivery only and this has had a monumental impact on local SEO searches.

Experts suggest using holiday hours on Google and adding a GMB Q&A around your restaurant operational status to help avoid customer confusion while searching.

There are several short and long term things we should all be doing right now. In the short term, it’s all about balance – finding the balance between supply, demand and revenue and altering any marketing strategies accordingly.

In the long term, however, it’s going to be about monitoring the fallout, staying on top of your analytics and being agile enough to change lanes at the drop of a hat. It’s a big ask, but this is a virus that has taken us all by surprise so, at the very least, at least it’s a struggle we’re all in together.