Coronavirus: Impact on Search Engine. Google Ads and Affiliate Sales

With more people staying at home due to Covid-19, organic search traffic has increased drastically. Ideally, this should lead to an exponential increased in eCommerce business through advertising. But has it really happened? Read our article to know the impact of Coronavirus on Google Advertising and eCommerce conversions.

The dire coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted nearly all aspects of our lives and also for businesses. Businesses everywhere must brace for the negative economic impact and possible economic crisis. More people will work remotely, and many companies will cut down on spending.

So, what about search marketing and digital marketing in general? Since people now stay more at home, more people are using the internet and shop online. Ideally, search marketing is bound to get a boost by pushing sales for eCommerce sites for essential products. But is that really the case?

Here, we will discuss the potential impact on coronavirus on SEO, Google Ads, and Affiliate marketing. Without further ado, let us begin.

Coronavirus Impact on Search Engine and Search Marketing

First, does the COVID-19 crisis impact SEO for startup companies? The short answer is yes, but there are two different layers to this answer: the changes in the search engines themselves, and the changes in the user's search behavior.

Changes in Search Engines

Remember that the core objective of the search engines is to provide the best, most relevant information to their audience.

So, in the face of this crisis, it would only make sense that Google and the other search engines like Bing adjust and enhance their SERPs to emphasize information related to COVID-19 with alerts, maps, FAQs, and tips. Google, for example, has created a specific page on its main domain to provide information on COVID-19 here.

This, however, wouldn't necessarily mean you should focus on keywords related to the Coronavirus since the search engines will prioritize websites with more EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) factors. This will include government websites, medical organizations, news sites, and so on.

There have also been changes to Google Maps (and Google My Business). For some businesses in certain industries, the Business Posts feature has been disabled temporarily.

Changes in User Search Behavior

Here are some changes that have been observed and potential changes regarding user search behavior and search intents:
  • In the quarantine period and WHF, people obviously will browse and shop online more than usual. So, many search queries especially those related to online purchase of essential products have been affected (positively).
  • There is an increased demand on daily essentials and at the same time, decreased search volume on luxury and lifestyle products, as expected
  • Decrease on mobile search volumes, since people are mainly indoors with their desktop devices
  • Trust and credibility, and the company's ability to fulfill orders tend to be more important than price, especially for essential products
  • Searches related to expensive products and big purchases have been generally postponed

Coronavirus Impact on Google Ads

The very significant changes to how people shop online have reduced spendings on Google Ads. Amazon, for example, which has been one of the most prominent spenders on Google Ads, has cut spending to virtually zero.

At the moment, we can already see these following impacts of COVID-19 in the digital marketplace and especially Google Ads:
  • Drops in organic traffic: although people spend more time online since they are stuck at home, this somehow doesn't translate into an increase in organic traffic. For most businesses, organic traffic is actually declining, except for businesses in the finance, health, and news media industries.
  • Google Ads Average CPV: while most businesses see drops in organic traffic, brands will spend less on advertising. On the one hand, this will mean it's much cheaper to spend on Google Ads today. On the other hand, the effectiveness of Google Ads at the moment is questionable, depending on your niche.
  • Delays in Ad reviews: many traffic-source workers responsible for reviewing content and ad design won't be working (and there can be potential layoff), and so waiting time for Google Ads reviews will be much longer than usual, that might affect publication time.
  • Buying trends: it's obvious that people are undergoing a massive change in buying decision
Below, we will discuss five industries that are currently seeing an increased spending/CPC cost on Google Ads, five industries that are kind of mixed in performance, and five industries you should avoid at the moment.

Industries With Google Ads Performance Increase During COVID-19 Crisis

These are the industries that are experiencing increases in various metrics during this coronavirus crisis and quarantine period.

1. Health

Quite obvious, many of us are actively searching for information related to the coronavirus or about health/medical in general. Also, purchases on medical supplies are obviously on the rise. Google Ads in this industry are seeing increased CTR and conversions,

2. Finance

People are actively looking for information regarding financial tips and professional help, with many facing lay-off or even bankruptcy. The finance niche is always famous for the niche with the most expensive keywords with very high average CPC, but at the moment the CPCs have fallen down a little and competition is easier here.

3. Nonprofits

The COVID-19 crisis has allowed Google Ads related to nonprofits and charities to see significant increases in ad impressions (10%) and a 20% increase in conversion rate. Google does offer free advertising for some advertisers in this niche, although keeping them in compliance is quite difficult.

4. Self-care

People are looking for hand sanitizers and soap, and also products related to self-care. ON average, the beauty & personal care niche saw an increase of 41%. Also, many FMCG products have been in very high demand during this coronavirus crisis.

5. On-demand entertainment

With many of us staying home and practicing WFH, we are naturally consuming more entertainment. On-demand entertainment services like Netflix and Hulu has more than doubled in conversions during this time.

Industries With Mixed Google Ads Performance During COVID-19 Crisis

These industries are currently experiencing mixed performance, and there is the possibility of them seeing major shifts both ways in the coming weeks or even days.

Home Improvement

This is an unnatural time for the home improvement niche. On the one hand, not too many people usually perform home improvement during March and April. However, with more people stuck in their homes, many are looking for productive ways to improve their homes (DIY way), especially affordable and easy home improvement projects. So, Google Ads performance in this niche is varying wildly.

Real Estate

Another sector with a mixed Google Ads performance. On the one hand, property development is seeing a significant (53%) decline in conversion rates and a 7% decline in search volume. However, searches on real estate agents have seen an increase in volume and a very significant 30% increase in conversions. Also, moving and relocation services have seen an 11% increase in volume.


As expected with people staying at home, the automotive industry has seen a very significant 30% drop in average conversion rates. However, there is a significant increase in automotive repair and maintenance (44%) and also vehicle window tinting (79%). People are using their free time to repair their existing vehicles at home.


With this situation, we can quite easily expect traditional retail to drop significantly, with eCommerce soaring. However, many families are sticking with traditional brick-and-mortar retails for one reason or another. Also, Amazon is pulling back its Google Ads budget, which resulted in a 9% decrease in CPC. On the other hand, wholesalers seem to be seeing an opposite trend with a 9% increase in conversion rates but a 14% increase in CPC.

Industries With Google Ads Performance Increase During COVID-19 Crisis

There are obviously some niches seeing a very significant decline, and a lot of people working in these industries are impacted. Here are some industries hit the hardest so far:

Restaurants and bars

Many countries are closing dine-in restaurants, bars, and clubs. Obviously these businesses are hit really hard during this time in social quarantine. Many are learning to shift to delivery services and take-out services, but nevertheless the Google Ads metrics for restaurants have declined with a 59% decrease in conversion rate and an 18% decline in conversion. Keywords for bars and nightclubs have declined even more in conversion by 26% and also a decrease in conversion by 57%.


It's quite obvious that with all the travel bans and consumers avoiding unnecessary travel at all costs, fewer people are looking to book travel today. Search for travel booking services has gone down by 49% and for air travel by 41%.

Live events and entertainment

There are strict limitations on group size all around the world and so many performers have cancelled their shows. As a result of this, search volume for live events has reduced significantly by 24% and conversion rates have gone down by 30%.


Many sports events including the upcoming Olympic have been cancelled, and so many niches tied to sports are seeing very significant declines especially related to conversion rates. Conversion rates for sports events have declined by a whopping 74%.


Manufacturing operations have slowed down significantly, and PPC ads for industrial goods have also been impacted. Search traffic in this niche has decreased by 13%.

Coronavirus Impact on Affiliate Marketing

The rising trends of people solely focusing on essential products may affect affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketers typically focus on high-margin products, but at least at the moment, Amazon is only shipping essential products.

However, the impact of COVID-19 on affiliate marketing might be mixed because affiliate marketing can cover various industries, each can be impacted differently. Changes in buying trends due to this crisis can cause very significant effects on affiliate earnings. Some will inevitably suffer from very significant declines.

However, in every crisis, there are always opportunities, and here are some niches and verticals that might be the most profitable in affiliate marketing at the moment:
  1. Make money online and WFH: many people lose their jobs and source of income and are actively looking for opportunities. This niche is really big right now with various affiliate opportunities.
  2. Dating and adult: we are, after all, social and sexual animals. However, in this time of physical distancing and quarantine, we should mainly focus on online services and stay away from meetup sites (which are usually good affiliate opportunities)
  3. Entertainment and gaming: we need entertainment more now that we stay at home. Offers focused on TV streaming and gaming are seeing huge increases. This will also include opportunities from gambling sites and adult gaming sites.
  4. DIY projects and remodelling : people stay at home and need to kill time, and many of them try to do productive (but affordable) things like home remodelling or renovations. In this time, people are more likely to repair something they already own than purchase new furniture.
  5. Emergency Kits: people are panicking, so offers related to survival and preparation for the worst are selling well. Be careful, however, not to capitalize on this and make sure to use appropriate language in your promotional pitches. Common offers in this niche including survival kits, military-grade flashlights, emergency supplies, and guides on how to protect yourself.
  6. WFH Equipment: with more people working from home and their realizations that this is going to be a prolonged period, many people are looking for products that can improve their working environment at home from new laptops/PCs, lamps, keyboards and mice, headsets, office/gaming chairs, and so on. Hygiene products like hand sanitizers and thermometers
  7. Remote working and communications software: we all know how Zoom grew dramatically in the past 3 months. With most of the world is in "lockdown" and many people are in WFH, they need means to communicate with each other. Zoom's referral program is great, but there are other affiliate opportunities like Google Hangouts and Slack, among others.
  8. Health and safety products: since the coronavirus makes people scared and panicked, all kinds of products related to health, safety, and comfort are in-demand. This includes health care and insurance, content on how to stay healthy and how to stay financially healthy, medical advice, psychological advice on how to stay relaxed and happy, and so on.

End Words

Above anything else, marketers should focus on taking care of their and their family's health and safety in this strange situation. Use this time to stay up to date, as the current situations across all industries are extremely dynamic. Above, we have discussed some key changes in search marketing and affiliate marketing opportunities, but in our opinion, today is the time for survival and not aiming for doubling down.

Be smart about your expenses, and while you can seize opportunities when you are sure, it's best to stay conservative.

However, stay positive and believe this is temporary. This COVID-19 situation too shall pass.


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