Pandemic Search Trends Report on Google in India: Implications for the Digital Publishers

Updated: Jun 16



Transcription of Podcast:


Recently, Google released a report called "What India Searches" which covered the recent trends in search during the pandemic. And this podcast is specifically with respect to the implications that this has for the digital publishing industry.


First of all, it's no surprise that the time spent on mobile devices and the overall data consumption has increased since the lockdown on 23rd March. I saw some report from Nielsen, which spoke about figures ranging from 15 to 30% from 23rd March. Now that increase in time spent is primarily on two channels. One is on search engines like Google and the other is on social media. And if you're a digital publisher, it makes more sense. I mean, rather than saying it makes more sense, the traffic that you get from search engines, we survey the traffic from social media. If you just compare both of them, the traffic from search engines has more intent it is more long term in nature. And as opposed to the social media traffic, which is as transient and really depends on the policies that social media platforms have.


So having said that with the spectrum of digital publishers, you know, when I was going through the report, I basically categorized, the searches, which are doing well into these four buckets.



The first bucket is the needs one, right? Basically there are searches like "grocery near me" or "medical / clinics near me" or "vet doctors". You know, things like these, which so basically these make sense generally on these such as you will not see a Google news panel. So even if you are a local news kind of digital publisher. It does not make sense to have, any of this because generally, the news panel will not show on such queries.


Then comes a lifestyle bucket. Now, a lot of action in this, people searching for "home fitness" related stuff. You know, gym equipment, at home recipes has seen a very big search. So definitely a look at it's a good idea to look at what exactly is trending using those like Google trends, and see what it is that people are searching on a daily basis on a weekly basis. If you can give a popular twist to it with basically what celebrities are doing with respect to all these things. Yes, I mean, I don't need to tell you that it just adds a different level of interest, to the article.



Then comes what I call is the knowledge bucket, where people are looking at learning new courses. But in general, people looking for more information on various topics with respect to boosting immunity, that is of course, people are looking at COVID related stuff, which would mean, symptoms or vaccines.


I think as a digital publisher, if you identify the main buckets and have good FAQ oriented articles, the chances are that you will come upon the Google news panel, but there is the, you know, after the news panel. And there are also chances of the story coming into the FAQ and remaining there, which is a, which is a nice short cut way of getting traffic fast.


So yes, it makes sense to definitely look up the words which people are using around immunity, homegrown, remedies a lot of interest in that, and of course, COVID, which is like a constant search interest. And see if you can, you know, if you could do some small videos, if you could do long-form FAQ kind of articles, covering it in your news stories. Also, even in a sense, you know, it may not traditionally be something which goes with you, with the positioning of your website or your blog. But, you know, this is something which is playing like now in the minds of everyone. So if you can do justice to it, you're going to be building awareness of your brand, your website.



And the last bucket would be with respect to digital tools. Right? So that is a search for things like people wanting to know various alternative payment modes, like UPI and other stuff, there are definitely things around collaboration tools. You know, bound to be interested in that, consulting doctors online. So, you know, it makes sense to do articles, which talk about the basics of choosing, the tools in these, in these categories and how do you know, operate these tools, you know? So, because again, that's something which is more, which has become a necessity in the lives of everyone. Okay.



So those were the various categories and whichever really been highlighted in this report. If you're a publisher, make sure you're doing, you're giving enough coverage. And if you are a YouTube channel, you know, make sure that you're, you have enough programming around these topics. And, yes, talking about YouTube. YouTube is the second largest search engine. So remember people are not just searching on Google.


They're also going to YouTube directly and searching for things. So it makes sense to have, , videos, especially around the topics the third bucket, which you're talking about, which is you know, the stuff around immunity and homegrown remedies and, and the overall COVID as a category.



And the last thing is whenever that is a live announcement, a live event, whether it could be Prime Minister Modi addressing everyone or Mr Uddhav Thackerey addressing the press make sure that you're covering that event and you have a transcription as, as you know, it just makes sense to have a transcription right there because yes, definitely not everyone is watching television. People just would like to watch it on their device.


So, that's it. Those were the main highlights and implications. If you are a digital publisher, Thank you. Thank you very much.


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