Search Trends and Analysis: June 2021

In the latest marketing update, we are going to look at the world of search from a different perspective. When summarising Personal Injury (PI) and Medical Negligence, we can see that search volumes have bounced back somewhat. However, they haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels and we are seeing unexplained fluctuations and hotspots. As a result, the average cost of paid search remains higher now than before the pandemic began and search volumes can spike and drop without any particular reason.

As such, it is a market that really keeps you on your toes. If you take your eye off things, you could easily spend a day’s budget in a couple of hours.

Rather than focus purely on our sector, I wanted to share some insights around wider search trends and changes in consumer behaviour. We use a variety of search metrics and activity from both within PI and wider online search trends to forecast what might happen as we continue to navigate the pandemic.





Looking at wider search volumes, we can see that at the start of the pandemic there was an immediate increase in the amount of overall online activity. There was a sustained growth in these levels of search, with a few peaks and troughs along the way.

During the first lockdown, a lot of the search activity was firstly to understand COVID; symptoms, testing, what to do etc. But we also saw increases in how to’s, particularly relating to making bread and your own food, along with getting things delivered and looking for sources of entertainment.

What these figures fail to highlight, however, is the dramatic shift in search. There was a substantial decline in travel-related search, with increases in online retail-related search. The search market literally shifted overnight. Slowly over time, however, we did see search volume grow, with increases across travel-related searches as restrictions eased here as well.

We also saw a slow and steady initial decline in overall search as more clicks returned to bricks and people enjoyed some freedom.

Fast forward to lockdown two and there was a bigger increase in online search than during the first lockdown, which became more retail driven as people started focusing on Christmas. This in turn saw a bigger fall when lockdown two ended – partially because we see a natural drop over the Christmas break but also because we had a couple of weeks of physical retail activity, which started before the end of full lockdown.

Unlike the first two lockdowns, the arrival of lockdown three didn’t see any particular spike in search volume as we all got used to this new way of life. However, search terms shifted more towards getting the vaccine and increased volumes of testing searches rather than trying to understand what COVID was. However, as with the easing of restrictions in previous lockdowns, we saw an overall drop in search volume. It is also worth noting an interesting spike in searches for people looking at how to delete their Facebook accounts.

Conversely, PI search volume has done pretty much the opposite of what we saw in the wider search market – initially plummeting before fluctuating and seeing some growth as lockdown eased. Then, in the final lockdown, we saw growth rather than decline, but things toughened as restrictions eased.

A change in device

Over the last few years, we have seen continuous growth in search volume on mobile devices, but over the last 12 months we have seen a resurgence of the desktop for search:



Tablet use is on the decline and has been since the start of 2019. This fall mirrors a drop in the number of tablets sold and the fact that mobile devices are getting better for online search.

There are spikes in computer use around the Christmas and sale periods; likely driven by consumers staying away from the high street and wanting to use a bigger screen for bigger baskets and purchases. Outside of this, desktop use is still on the increase. This could potentially be because we're at home, so there is no need to just browse on your phone during your lunch break.

Creatures of habit

One thing we’ve not really seen is much change in when people search online:

The peak of search is still happening between 7pm and 9pm but you can see that the curve has flattened during the day, with less severe increases after 9am and shallower drops in search volume between 5pm and 6pm when most people would traditionally be on the commute.

If you have any questions or require any information about joining our Personal Injury or Clinical Negligence panels, please contact our head of business development, Nick Delaney.




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