How COVID-19 Affects Google Search & PPC Campaign

The coronavirus pandemic will define 2020. As we continue to see the outbreak spread and governments and businesses respond to COVID-19, we’ve seen changes in every aspect of our daily life. Even on the Google SERP, we’ve seen large shifts in the way people search during this crisis.

COVID-19 related searches surge on Google

As the coronavirus pandemic dominates our concerns, news, politics, and economy, it’s dominating our Google searches. In fact, today, COVID-19 related searches are now the most popular searches on Google, far exceeding searches about other news, weather, politics, Google, Facebook, Amazon, or even porn.

COVID-19 searches spike early in the morning and late at night

Understandably, the pandemic is top of mind for most of us. But for those of us fortunate enough to not be actively fighting the disease on the front lines, we find ways to distract ourselves throughout the day and continue our lives in some shade of normalcy. Still, Google trends reveals that the coronavirus is often on our minds, but especially when we first wake up and before we go to bed.

The impact on your PPC campaigns

At first glance, that increase in search volume late at night might be look like a relief to advertisers—but be careful. Many advertisers traditionally note between 10-25% lower conversion rates from their ads during these times.

Unfortunately, these typical nightly dips in conversion rates are exacerbated with current search trends during the pandemic. These late-night searchers are not just tired, but the bad news from their nightly coronavirus searches is more than likely hurting their psyche. these searches have much lower conversion rates than they normally would. In the evening hours coinciding with the peak search volume for COVID-19, advertisers have noted a 30% lower conversion rate than they typically would expect at night.

Here’s what you can do

These unprecedented times have us all feeling some anxiety, and our feelings certainly change throughout the day. Your paid search campaigns can take this into account. Here’s what you can do to address these current challenges in your PPC campaigns.

1. Revisit your campaigns’ ad schedule performance

You can easily track your own campaigns performance by day of the week and hour of the day within Google Ads. Simply click “Segment,” then “Time” within Google Ads.  Even if you reviewed this recently, the performance has likely changed in March due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

2. Consider new day dayparting strategies

Those new searches between midnight and 4 a.m. will exhaust your daily budget even faster and likely won’t convert as well. To make the most of your limited daily budget, consider new dayparting strategies by bidding down on these off hours or even having your campaigns only run during profitable times

3. Try smart bidding

The coronavirus is going to present us with new business and paid search challenges in the coming months. As these trends and others emerge, it will be difficult to adjust campaigns on a dime. Google’s smart bidding strategies may help advertisers by digesting changing data and adjusting their CPC bids in real time to match their goals.

It’s unfortunately clear that the coronavirus is going to change our daily lives for the next few months at least. Stay safe and practice social distancing. While you’re stuck inside, keep an eye on your PPC accounts and the WordStream blog. We’ll be posting regularly with new data and strategies to best adjust your campaigns in these rapidly changing times.

Data sources

This report is based on a sample of 15,759 US-based WordStream client accounts in all verticals who were advertising on Google search throughout March 2020.

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