COVID-19 Search Dataset Updates | Energy Circle, LLC

COVID-19 Search Dataset Updates

Regular updates on trends and changes we're seeing in organic and paid search data across our industries and our analysis of how the COVID-19 health crisis may be impacting consumer search behavior.

Wednesday, April 1.

Shawn Cohen, Director of Digital Strategy

- Home Performance search volume is down more than it was this time last year, likely due to COVID-19’s impact on the industry’s availability to deliver non-essential services. - HVAC search volume has held very steady over the past two months (as opposed to the typical seasonal decline we usually see this time of year), and clicks and conversions have increased as well. - Across both HVAC and Home Performance, avg. CPC is on the rise indicating increased advertising competition despite the temporary downturn in the industry. This is attributable, at least in part, to a decrease in consumer demand and spending but a lack of proportional decrease in advertiser spending. - For Solar services - Impressions, clicks, and conversions all declined from February to March, as opposed to last year when clicks and conversions rose during the same two month period (despite a greater decline in impressions). - Across the board, search volume and engagement for all categories declined from February to March - but we saw a similar decline across the board during the same time last year. This implies that typical seasonal patterns are definitely contributing to Google Ads performance, albeit likely slightly exaggerated in certain categories because of COVID-19.

Monday, March 23
Shawn Cohen, Director of Digital Strategy

"It's still difficult to tell whether changes we're seeing in PPC data are signals of actual trends, or just typical day to day fluctuation. 7 day over 7 day comparison for Paid Search volume shows a decline across the board (HVAC, Home Performance and Solar paid search campaigns) in impressions, clicks and conversions. It's important to note that two of those days were Saturday and Sunday - when we normally see decline in search and click traffic. However when we broaden the time frame slightly - we see in the past 14 days (as compared to the previous 14 days) impressions actually held remarkably steady (less than 1% change). Clicks and conversions are down by less than 4% and 6% respectively- but despite steady impressions and declining click volume, conversion rate is up by more than 6%. So while we are seeing fewer clicks, we are seeing better quality clicks - a promising metric indicating that even if fewer people are searching, those who are searching are more motivated to take an action and the continued, consistent and prominent visibility of paid search ads is helping them to do just that."

Thursday, March 19.
Cassandra Hutcheson, PPC Strategist

"March is always a shoulder season for our industry so at the present time it's hard to paint a clear picture of how PPC in Home Performance is being impacted. Our Energy Circle PPC data is showing that year over year- impressions, clicks, and click thru rates are all up, across the board. Over the last fourteen days there is still a lot of search volume and clicks around Branded keywords, as well as HVAC services or repairs, HVAC installations, and Home Performance services. Looking at paid search data day-to-day is never a great way to draw conclusions about trends or lasting patterns. That said, when we do look at the day over day search data among Energy Circle clients a bit more granularly (today vs yesterday) we saw a drop of 388 impressions from yesterday (Wednesday 3/18), a 0.29% drop in click thru rate, and a drop in conversion rate of only 0.58%. The campaigns that saw the biggest dip in impressions were mostly around "HVAC" related searches, which could be tied in with the shoulder season, and not necessarily the current state of the country. Additionally, Wordstream recently reported on Wednesday that, given its typical seasonality , "[t]he next few weeks will be a litmus test [for the home improvement industry]." Wordstream's reporting on the Home Improvement industry aligns with what we're seeing in the HVAC and home performance subset here at EC, in that so far, conversions are steady / strong if not improving but performance is widely varied. We believe the next one to two weeks will give us an even clearer picture of how the pandemic is impacting consumer search behavior."

Wednesday, March 18.
Shawn Cohen, Director of Digital Strategy

"Looking at organic search trends today for interest and volume around relevant topics: HVAC, heating and cooling, air conditioning, energy audit, insulation, duct cleaning, indoor air quality and heat pumps - across the country. I am encouraged but not surprised to see no significant changes over the past 7 days, 30 days or even 12 months - outside of normal seasonal fluctuations. Google Trends is reporting a minor dip in interest for "HVAC" "heating" and "insulation" search terms which occurred early last week. Interest for "Heating" and "HVAC" search terms seems to be rebounding over the past couple of days, while insulation has flattened off to around average or slightly below average seasonal levels. In looking at YOY trends however, none of what I'm seeing in Google Trends appears out of the ordinary so far. To me, this highlights the importance for service providers to maintain a consistent presence across both paid and organic channels as search behavior is maintaining consistent interest."

Tuesday, March 17.
Shawn Cohen, Director of Digital Strategy

"I spent the afternoon looking at search volume metrics by industry, for both HVAC and home performance/insulation related searches, comparing the last 14 days as compared to the previous 14 days. Basically - TL:DR of it all - impressions and clicks are actually up across the board by 2.8% and 6.5% respectively. We're seeing lots of movement around rebates and financing terms, and some losses in the 'new install' and 'repairs' categories...but it's evening out so far. I think this tells us that people are thinking beyond this crisis. They are still planning for future services and improvements to their homes, they're looking into their options when it comes to financial planning and that all makes me cautiously and realistically...optimistic."