Search Trends During Coronavirus: UK and Ireland

Written by Joanne Kearney

Joanne has over 10 years’ experience working in digital analytics, executing and managing many large scale projects across the UK and Ireland. Joanne is also an experienced trainer, having developed many customised corporate training schemes and regularly speaks at digital and analytics events.
April 30, 2020

Corona virus, covid, coronavirus, or Covid-19… how do you call it? What is the official name? There are plenty of different names being shared for the current situation we find ourselves in. What do we do as a new trend, phenomenon, or virus, hits the world? We search for it.


Google Trends for Coronavirus Search Terms


New terms that we haven’t heard before pop up and become common use, media outlets start to report on new symptoms, there are stories of new ways to curb the virus and “miracle cures” that claim they’re going to save us. Very quickly, we can face a bit of anxiety over what we deem to be a “lack of knowledge”, and we start to search.

As you may have seen on our Twitter account earlier this month, we’ve been looking at the Google Trends surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. In this article, we’re going to explore some of the regional variations in how those in Ireland are searching for terms related to coronavirus, in comparison with their UK counterparts.

Data from Google Trends seems to suggest “coronavirus” is leading the charge on this one, but “covid” and “covid 19” are more commonly used in the Ireland when compared to the UK.


Interest Over Time: Coronavirus Related Terms


What about “corona” vs “covid” alone? The average interest in “covid” as a search term over the last 90 days is actually higher in Ireland than “corona”, while the opposite applies for search trends in the UK.

Interest Over Time: “Corona” vs “Covid”


Interest in “covid” as a search term grew steeper and more quickly Ireland – surpassing “corona” on the 14th of March. This didn’t happen in the UK for a further two weeks, on the 28th march. This might be due to the Irish media and government referencing “covid” more than those in the UK, who seem to favour the “coronavirus” term across new stories, advertisements, and press conferences.


What about terms outside Coronavirus and Covid-19?


“Coronavirus News”, “Coronavirus Update”, and “Coronavirus Cases” are all part of the breakout terms that people search for when investigating coronavirus.

Breakout Terms in the UK


Breakout Terms in Ireland

Further searches into some of these terms show that as time goes back, variations of terms that we search for around “coronavirus” also changes. In Ireland, the peak interest for “coronavirus update” was on the 12th March, followed by “coronavirus” symptoms the following day, and “coronavirus cases” the day after that. “Coronavirus lockdown” peaked a day later, with “coronavirus deaths” coming after a further two weeks on 28th March. So, questions posed by search behaviour around these terms appear to follow this sequence:-

  • What are the latest updates on coronavirus?
  • Do I have it? What are the coronavirus symptoms?
  • How many have it? What is the rate of coronavirus cases?
  • What do I need to do, to prevent? Follow the coronavirus lockdown guidelines.
  • How many people have died from coronavirus?

Interest Over Time In Ireland


In the UK, the same terms appear to follow less of a sequential trend, with “coronavirus update” peaking on the 17th March, “coronavirus symptoms” peaking five days prior, and “coronavirus cases” peaking inbetween these dates. “Coronavirus lockdown” follows on the 23rd March, with “coronavirus deaths” seeing the most search interest shortly after the 25th March. The UK data seems to suggest more sporadic and hectic peaks across the range of terms, and while keywords for updates, symptoms, and cases initially trended highly, it is search terms around lockdown and deaths that have replaced them. In the UK, searches for “coronavirus deaths” has now risen to overtake all other keywords researched.


Interest Over Time In The UK


In the data above, you can see either a decline in search term interest or at least a plateau. Isolate the term “lockdown end” and you can see a clear interest across both the UK and Ireland from mid-March onwards, almost as soon as lockdown guidelines were put in place.

“Lockdown End” in Ireland


“Lockdown End” in the UK


To date, the highest peak for the term “lockdown end” in the UK was on the 25th of April, with the second highest occurring on the 13th of April. In Ireland, the peak occurs on the 23rd of April, with the previous high on the 14th. It is not surprising that this term continues to increase, and will likely continue to do so until lockdown measures are relaxed. The region in the UK with the greatest interest in “lockdown end” is Northern Ireland, possibly because initial talks of lockdown measures by the Irish government have preceded the UK government.

In the United States, “lockdown end” also continues to rise but the highest interest in this term was on the 20th of April. A few days before this, on 16th of April, President Trump had announced that the US had passed the peak and lockdown measures were to be eased. California was the region that recorded greatest interest in a “lockdown end”.

“Lockdown End” in the United States


Finally, after President Trump’s curious announcement about treatments using disinfectant was made on the 23rd of April (said to be made sarcastically!), we looked at the trends for “how to inject disinfectant”. The states that saw highest interest in the term were Oregon, Colorado, and Massachusetts. Search patterns for the phrase peaked the day following his press conference, but thankfully interest in the term has since subsided!


“How To Inject Disinfectant” Trending Searches


With daily press conferences, news stories, announcements, advertisements, and countless other forms of content being dedicated to the coronavirus outbreak, it is no surprise that the search terms surrounding the outbreak have peaked worldwide. As we have explored here, this offers a fantastic example of the regional variations that occur through the use of keywords, in addition to the effects of search trends over time. This is an important factor to consider when targeting keywords and areas of interest for your website, content, or digital marketing campaigns.

For more on how the digital world is changing under coronavirus, check out our article on 8 Digital Marketing Ideas to Consider. If you’d like to ask a question about anything we’ve covered in this article please leave a comment below, contact us online, or give us a call.



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