How to advertise on Google during Covid-19
Picture by Brian McGowan on Unsplash

How to advertise on Google during Covid-19

Covid-19 has changed the world. In particular, it has changed how we behave. And this very much includes how we behave on the Internet: the amount of time spent on the Internet, the things we search for, and sites we visit.

If you advertise on Google, using Google Ads, this is important to understand, as this will impact your Google Ads. Here are some of my observations over the last few months based on the work we do at Glocafy.

The sudden rise of new search terms

Of course, new search terms come up all the time and there are many terms that experience a sudden rise and fall, as they come to public attention and then fall out of fashion again. One topical example is the search for a new fact of life that has changed our world and our lives so dramatically and, as a consequence, has made people curious looking to find out more about it: Covid-19. 

‘Covid-19’, as we can see in the charts based on Google Trends data below, is one such term. As can be seen in the left chart this term, not searched for at all in any notable way in January, gained sudden momentum and reached its global search peak on 27th March 2020.  Since then it has remained strong, but shows a clear and steady downward trend, just like the pandemic itseld. And while the conversation (at least in Ireland) seems to be all about ‘Covid-19’, further investigation shows that the search term ‘Covid-19’ is tiny when compared to the search volume for ‘Coronavirus’ (shown in the right chart below in red).

covid-19-search trend
Global search trend for 'Covid-19', Jan-May 2020
Global search trend for 'Coronavirus' (red) in comparison to 'Covid-19'

Changing search patterns impacting search terms and ad text for Google ads

Leaving the rise of new search terms aside, what I noted and what has impacted ad management quite a substantially are changing patterns in search. If you are a bit of a data nerd like me, you can keep up-to-date on some of these trends via ‘Think with Google‘ and it always makes interesting and often entertaining reading.

I myself observed several changing patterns for search terms used in clients ads accounts – including both opportunities for new terms as well as a drop of search (and thus often demand) for other terms. 

Hand in hand with changing search patterns go changing expectations and priorities of the people using these terms in search. So, typically, not only the keywords need changing, but the ad text too, and sometimes also the landing page. Peoples’ priorities have changed. Offering the same things in the same way does not make sense. We are living in a new reality.

In some cases, I set up some completely new campaigns for clients, leveraging the opportunity that Covid-19 opened up for them. In other cases, e.g. tourism, the best choice was to temporarily pause ads and keep this budget for when things restart. And they will restart, so let’s keep that budget for later!

Changes in Google policy requiring some workarounds for Google ads

The search patterns shown for ‘Covid-19’ and ‘Coronavirus’ above are tempting and anyone with an offering that in some way addresses the problems caused by Covid-19 might be inclined to think, given the massive search volume, ‘Covid-19’ would be a great keyword to use in a Google Ads campaign. But while appealing, the reality is there is a problem.  While there was nothing documented by Google that I could find on this, a lot of keywords in this space turned out to be off-limits, e.g. ‘Covid-19’, but also some other broader medical terms that surprised me. For these kind of suddenly ‘off-limits’ terms, you will also now not find any more information about search volume in Google Keyword Finder. 

For clients with an offering relating to Covid-19 this meant, workarounds had to be found, often requiring a good bit of testing to see what was acceptable to Google, and what was not acceptable. For example, sometimes certain terms could not be used as a search keyword, but where allowed in ad text or landing page text. In some cases, we decided to circumvent the problem by moving away from Google search ads and instead of that using Display ads. And this worked extremely well in some cases!

So, depending on what industry you are in, it’s important to understand the impact of Covid-19 on advertising, good and bad, and what it means in terms of changes required for your Google Ads campaigns. 

Conclusions for Google Ads during Covid-19

It is simple: We are living in changed and changing times, so new thinking and new approaches are needed. This includes advertising with Google Ads:

  1. Start with the most important, your customer. What has changed for them? What do they need now? How can you help them now?
  2. Review your ads: What is, and what is not working? Should you pause your ads? Is there an opportunity to create new ad campaigns?
  3. Review your ad keywords: Are they still bringing you the gains you are after? Are there opportunities for new keywords to add?
  4. Review your ad texts: Does your ad text still make sense? Is your messaging appropriate for the situation we are in?
  5. Review your landing page: Does this give your (potential) customers something they need now?
  6. Be creative: This is a time of change. Some things will not work and workarounds maybe needed. But there is also a lot of opportunity. Don’t miss it!

I hope the above gives you some ideas for ads, and in particular Google Ads, during Covid-19. Alternatively, if you need more help with your ads, contact Glocafy and we will be happy to help you with your advertising campaigns in Ireland – or other international markets, especially the German market.

Susanne Dirks

Susanne Dirks is an internationalisation consultant, specialising in website localisation, international SEO and international digital marketing.