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21 Google searches that changed with coronavirus

A look at the dramatic change of several search terms in the era of COVID-19.

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If you searched “DIY mask” last year, it was likely either for Halloween or an epic cosplay. But in 2020, you probably searched it to find something that helps lower the spread of a global pandemic. The rise of the coronavirus has created a shift in what Americans search for as we look to understand new terms and find information that’s now considered vital.

To further explore this phenomenon, we used the keyword research tool SEMrush to see how search volume changed for 21 terms. The data also looks at certain search-interest peaks courtesy of Google Trends, represented by numbers between 1 and 100 with the maximum popularity for each term being 100.

1. Coronavirus

Kicking off the list, we have the reason we’re talking about this in the first place. SEMRush data shows that searches for “coronavirus” increased in volume from approximately 27,000 to just shy of 25 million — a whopping 91781.92% increase from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 3, 2020.

2. SBA disaster loans

Sadly, COVID-19 has resulted in many layoffs and several businesses closing their doors altogether. The disaster loan program is the only Small Business Association (SBA) assistance that’s not actually limited to small businesses. SEMRush data shows that “sba disaster loans” increased in search volume by 1955.56% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 29, 2020.

3. PPP loan

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a business loan program established in 2020 by the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. SEMRush data shows that “PPP loan” increased in search volume by 439% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning April 19, 2020.

4. Stimulus check

The first round of stimulus checks went out in April of 2020 and a second stimulus check is likely to happen before the end of this year. SEMRush data shows that “Stimulus check” increased in search volume by 4089% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning April 12, 2020.

5. Unemployment rate

The unemployment rate was and still is a major point of discussion in the news. Many Americans wondered how today’s unemployment rate compared to the rate during The Great Recession and other economically hard times throughout history. SEMRush data shows that “unemployment rate” increased in search volume by 28.55% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 29, 2020.

6. Car insurance rate

Some highlighted that less driving in the wake of the coronavirus was one of the silver linings to the pandemic. SEMRush data shows that “Car insurance rate” decreased in search volume by 45.5% from 2019 to 2020. Google trends data is not as clear, but shows that search interest is lower than in the past. The average search interest decreased from 64 in 2018 to 60 in 2019 and 56 in 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning April 4, 2020.

7. How to cancel car insurance

While those searching for car insurance rates saw a drop, searches for canceling your car insurance saw a rise. In the early days of the coronavirus, many pondered the purpose of paying car insurance on a vehicle they were not currently driving. SEMRush data shows that “How to cancel car insurance” increased in search volume by 22.2% from 2019 to 2020.

Google Trends data shows that this term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning June 17, 2020. Interest in the term was higher than in previous years from January to March, but lower than previous years from April to July. Overall so far, the average search interest for 2020 is still higher compared to previous years.

8. Life insurance

Potentially due to a rise in fear of one’s own mortality, searches for life insurance saw a rise as well. SEMRush data shows that “Life insurance” increased in search volume by 22.22% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that interest in this term has generally increased from 2018 to 2020. So far, the average search interest for 2020 — 90.2 — is higher than both 2019 at 81.9 and 2018 at 78.3. This term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning January 5, 2020.

9. Travel insurance

A survey run by Finder earlier this summer revealed that 55.3 million American adults plan to resume travel within a year after COVID-19. Data shows that “travel insurance” increased in search volume by 19.6% from 2019 to 2020. Looking at Google Trends data, interest in this term was much higher during the beginning of 2020, with interest hitting a peak the week beginning March 8, 2020. But interest soon waned, dropping below previous year levels by the end of March until August. Average search interest still calculates to 37.2, higher than previous years — 28.3 in 2018 and 30.6 in 2019. This is due to the increase in travel insurance in early March, right before COVID-19 travel restrictions started becoming widespread.

10. Should I invest in stocks

Many people are looking at the risk of investing right now. SEMRush showed that “should I invest in stocks” increased in search volume by 69.49% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 15, 2020 – the same week interest in “Coronavirus” peaked.

11. Student refund

School is back in session for many, but not without certain precautions in place. Zoom classes are still in effect for some, while other schools now have a hybrid curriculum with at home and in-class options. SEMRush data shows that “student refund” increased in search volume by 23.1% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning February 23, 2020. Student refund search interest seems to be seasonally higher every February, but 2020 differed from previous years with an additional surge in interest from March to May. Overall, average search interest so far in 2020 — 38.7 — has been higher than in 2019 at 23.5 and 2018 at 19.3.

12. Eviction

Protections were put in place to protect renters during the pandemic. That didn’t stop some from doing their due diligence to get a better understanding of what their rights were as tenants. SEMRush data shows that “eviction” increased in search volume by 22.4% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term has greatly increased in search volume in 2020. There was an elevated interest during March, with a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 15, 2020, and another peak during the week beginning August 9, 2020. The first peak coincided with the increase of interest in the term “Coronavirus” and the first of the stay-at-home orders. The second peak hit around the time when additional unemployment benefits extended through the CARES Act ended on July 31, 2020. Overall, the average search interest so far in 2020 — 59.4 — has been higher than in 2019 at 43.2 and 2018 at 43.9.

13. Toilet Paper

Panic-buying certainly helped toilet paper sales. SEMRush data shows that “toilet paper” increased in search volume by 2379.3% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term had greatly increased search volume in 2020 from March to May. This term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 15, 2020, and has decreased since then to about the same levels as 2018 and 2019. Overall, the average Trends search interest so far in 2020 — 12.9 — has been higher than in 2019 at 2.1 and 2018 at 2.3, driven by sky-high interest in March.

14. DIY hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer also became a highly desired resource in the fight against and prevention of COVID-19. SEMRush data shows that “DIY hand sanitizer” increased in search volume by 73% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term had greatly increased search volume in 2020, starting from March. This term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 8, 2020, and has decreased since then although search interest is still higher than in 2018 and 2019. Overall, the average search interest so far in 2020 — 12.9 — has been higher than in 2019 at 0.2 and 2018, also at 0.2.

15. Bidet Amazon

A shortage in toilet paper seemed to have resulted in a search for alternative methods of hygiene. SEMRush data shows that “bidet amazon” increased in search volume by 234.6% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term had greatly increased search volume in 2020, starting from March. This term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 15, 2020, and has decreased since then to 2018 and 2019 levels. Overall, the average search interest so far in 2020 — 13.1 — has been higher than in 2019 at 3.3 and 2018 at 3.2.

16. Where to buy condoms

It’s been widely reported that divorce rates have jumped amid the coronavirus. But while love was lost with some, plenty just wanted to make sure they were practicing safe sex while in quarantine. SEMRush data shows that “where to buy condoms” increased in search volume by 24.1% from 2019 to 2020. Strangely, Google Trends data shows that interest in this term has decreased from 57.1 in 2018 to 45.7 in 2019 and 44.6 in 2020.

17. How to buy a tiger

While this is only speculation, the increase in search for this is likely due to the infamous Tiger King. It begs the question: How many people pooled their stimulus checks to actually try and buy a tiger? While we certainly don’t recommend making this purchase, make sure your big cat is covered if you do. SEMRush data shows that “How to buy a tiger” increased in search volume by 238.5% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 29, 2020 — about a week or two after Netflix’s Tiger King was released.

18. What is Zoom

One of the Cinderella products to come out of the pandemic, video conferencing platform Zoom saw a lot of interest due to an increase in working and schooling from home. SEMRush data shows that “What is Zoom” increased in search volume by 1275% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term had greatly increased search volume in 2020 starting from mid-March. This term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 22, 2020 — right around when the first school closings were announced. Interest has decreased since then while still remaining higher than 2018 and 2019 levels. However, interest seems to be increasing again starting from July. Overall, the average search interest so far in 2020 — 28.6 — has been higher than in 2019 at 4 and 2018 at 3.5.

19. Zoom vs Skype

Another search related to the widely used video platform. Those searching this term seem to be seeking insight on cost comparison and differences in features. SEMRush data shows that “Zoom vs Skype” increased in search volume by 825% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term had greatly increased search volume in 2020, starting from March. This term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 29, 2020 and has decreased since then, although interest is still higher than 2018 and 2019 levels. Overall, the average search interest so far in 2020 — 19.7 — has been higher than in 2019 at 3 and 2018 at 2.8.

20. Cancel flight

Many were looking to cancel their flights while also navigating airline waivers and getting a refund. SEMRush data shows that “cancel flight” increased in search volume by 82.9% from 2019 to 2020. Google Trends data shows that this term had greatly increased search volume in 2020, starting from late February. This term hit a peak in search interest during the week beginning March 8, 2020 and has decreased since then to 2018 and 2019 levels. Overall, the average search interest so far for 2020 — 14.9 — is higher than in 2019 at 7.4 and 2018 at 7.

21. How much are plane tickets

Cancellations aside, many flights have been more affordable since the pandemic began. Travelers who are willing to take risks tend to see these cheaper flights as opportunities. SEMRush data shows that “how much are plane tickets” increased in search volume by 22.2% from 2019 to 2020. There was a short-lived peak in search interest during the week beginning March 8, 2020, before search interest returned to levels similar to 2018 and 2019. Overall, the average Google Trends search interest so far for 2020 — 25.2 — is slightly higher than in 2019 at 23.3 and 2018 at 22.5.

Methodology

We analyzed SEMrush data as of August 31, 2020. Percent change in search volume for different keyword terms was calculated based on the yearly search volume from each term. Yearly search volume was derived from the average number of monthly searches for each analyzed keyword over 12 months according to SEMrush. We looked at the 12 months prior to August 2019 and August 2020.

Google Trend data was from August 26, 2017 through August 26, 2020. Search interest was calculated relative to the maximum popularity for each term, with 100 representing the peak popularity for the term and 50 showing that the term was half as popular.

For media inquiries:

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Allan Givens
Public Relations Manager
203-818-2928
allan.givens@finder.com
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Nicole Gallina
Communications Coordinator
347-677-4931
nicole.gallina@finder.com
/in/nicole-gallina/

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