A Year of Search: 2020

2020 was always going to be a big year in Google search and SEO. However, no one could have predicted that a global pandemic would have impacted Google trends throughout the year.

So, how has SEO and search trends been affected by the pandemic? What Google trends have emerged? And what does this all mean for Google search moving forward into 2021? To guide you through the madness of the last 12 months in Google search, we’ve put together this blog on the year of search in 2020.

Increase In Health News & Non-Profit Charity Searches

The biggest search trend in 2020 has been COVID-19. In March this year, Google trends showed a massive spike in searches for ‘coronavirus’ in the UK. COVID-19 symptoms, such as coughing, high fever, and loss of taste and smell, have all risen in search volume in 2020 too.

It could have been predicted that medical-related search terms would rise during the pandemic. However, optimistically, search intent for charities and non-profit organisations has also increased. The latest Google search insight report showed the interest in charitable giving and charities is rising this year.

– 21% growth in search for charities & charitable giving

– 13% rise in clicks

– 56% of searches come from mobile

– 51% of visitors from mobile

This shows that despite this tough year, people are coming together to give back to those in need.

donation webpage

Working Remotely/Business Management

At the start of the year, the pandemic forced many businesses to close completely or have to work remotely. This led to a rise in search terms based around working from home. The phrase working from home saw a massive spike in search volume between the 15-21 of March. ‘Tips’ and ‘How To’ related search terms also increased as people tried to discover the best ways to be productive while working remotely.

Video meeting software also rose in search. Zoom saw an avalanche of searches in March after having a practically non-existent search volume in the previous year. As many people were working remotely, many search terms also saw a decrease.

Anything related to commuting saw a steep drop off, for example ‘train delays’ and ‘traffic jams’ both reduced in March. Thankfully, unreliable public transport is something many people haven’t had to put up within 2020, even if we have missed our routine Starbucks at the train station.

Rise In Voice Search

Despite the year being dominated by the pandemic, not all google trends were a reaction to the virus or lockdown restrictions. Voice search is an SEO trend that has been rising incrementally for the past few years but has rapidly increased in 2020. 

Mobile voice searches are used by 27% of users worldwide. However, smart devices, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, are the main driver of voice search in 2020. Many voice search queries include keywords like ‘How’, ‘Why’, ‘What’, and ‘Best’. This shows that users are often seeking the answer to a specific question when using voice search.

There are many opportunities for marketers to optimise their business for voice searches. Create content with a conversational tone of voice, this will match user queries as they will be using speech. Instead of focusing on single keywords, optimise towards long-tail search queries and target featured snippet prospects. Schema mark-up is also a big priority, as it’s an HTML add-on that helps search engines to understand the context of your site’s content.

smart phone voice search

Connect ‘With Me’ Searches

Due to social distancing guidelines, earlier in the year, schools and many businesses closed. This left a lot of people disconnected from friends and family. Thankfully, the internet gave people the opportunity to develop existing relationships online and create new connections as well. Zoom and other video meeting tools blew up in popularity as people looked for ways to chat with friends and family.

However, search intent increased for videos on YouTube with ‘With Me’ in the title. This is a trend that has been growing for some time but rose exponentially in 2020. Study with me, cook with me, and even disinfect with me, are all trending search terms. People enjoyed interacting online more than ever as our in-person interactions decreased.

This trend is a great opportunity for marketers who want to connect with customers. Create content that reaches out to your audience virtually and you can increase engagement, while also offering support during this tough year.

Algorithm Updates

Google rolls out regular algorithm updates every year, some of them are large core updates and others are smaller updates they may not even announce. 2020 saw two major core algorithm updates in January and May.

The January update was global and affected a wide range of niches causing volatility in ranking positions for many categories. For example, dictionary sites saw a big jump in SERPs rankings, and organic traffic increased in the health sector, even before the pandemic.

Fluctuation in rankings isn’t necessarily Google saying a website’s content is bad. Updates focus on improving how the algorithm assesses and evaluates a website, so the most relevant content for a topic rises to the top of SERPs.

May’s update was a big one, the first core update in a world where we’re all living with the pandemic. A variety of industries noticed massive ranking volatility, such as travel, real estate, health, animals and pets, and people and society. A lot of sites that were affected were sites Google considers to be in the ‘Your Life, Your Money’ category

Many sites are classified as ‘Your Life, Your Money’, which means they feature content that has the potential to influence people’s lives. Having the wrong information on these pages could negatively impact users. Examples include news and current affairs, finance, health and safety, and shopping. For pages with this information, Google promotes content with expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

On December 3rd, Google announced a new broad core update to its algorithm. These updates are normally implemented every few months, however, there has been a 7-month break between updates this time. The impact it will have is currently unknown but is sure to have a huge effect on SEO in 2021.

google trends

Search In 2021

What are the Google trends going to be over the next 12 months? To understand how search will change in the next year, you should examine Google trends. Each algorithm update strives to increase rankings for the most relevant content. 

Whatever your niche may be, produce informative content, show you’re an expert source of knowledge within your industry. As more updates are rolled out, higher-quality content is going to be more and more important.

How mobile-friendly a site is will also affect its ranking position in 2021, as the search volume for mobile devices increases every year. Ensure your site is accessible and usable on mobile and you could see a rise in traffic over the next 12 months. 

In the world of SEO, nothing stands still, the industry is constantly evolving. Whether it’s algorithm updates or changes in consumer behaviour, there are many exciting opportunities for growth in traffic and rankings. At Bright Design, we’re always adapting our SEO approaches to deliver the best results for our client partners, which our team is looking forward to continuing in 2021. Get in touch if you have any questions about your business’s SEO.

Peter Dennis

Pete joined the team in 2019 as a copywriter. His main responsibilities involve researching and writing valuable content for our client-partners to ultimately help them achieve their goals. Pete works closely with the Marketing and Account Management teams to ensure his content aligns to what each client is looking to achieve.

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