Research: Re-opening is Driving New Online Search Opportunities

New research by BrightEdge shows emerging post-pandemic consumer trends are creating new opportunities for online search. There are clear winners in many areas from local search to travel. Other previously booming industries are experiencing a sharp pullback.

Shifts in Consumer Spending

The pandemic caused dramatic changes to how consumers spend and what they spend it on. The re-opening of the economy is causing similarly dramatic changes to online spending habits that may accelerate as the year progresses.

Re-opening Economy

Approximately 28% of the United States population fully vaccinated which in turn may be influencing changes in these verticals:

  • Local Search – Dining
  • Travel and Hospitality (Hotels, Flights )
  • Digital Transformation
  • E-commerce

Local Search – Dining

Pandemic trends saw increasing searches for take-out related phrases with a decrease in dine-in search queries. That trend is now reversing.

Take-out related phrases are trending lower while dining-in related search queries are trending upward.

The BrightEdge report notes:

“Within the Restaurant category we’re seeing a shift away from Take Out & Delivery and an increase in search using the “Dine in” qualifier.”

Changes in Travel Searches

These changes are reflected in 2021 search trends.

Head terms are seeing dramatic upward trends. Searches like “Flights” and “Cheap Flights” are trending upwards.

While there may be more volume in International Flights keyword phrase, Domestic Flights is seeing a more dramatic upturn. This may be an indication that families are keen to get together, driving more growth in domestic flights related keyword phrases.

Top Ten Dining Related Queries by Growth

  1. Happy hour
  2. Dessert
  3. Brazilian
  4. Seafood
  5. Chili
  6. Sushi
  7. Italian
  8. Mexican
  9. Vegan
  10. Japanese

Negative Trending Dining Queries

Interestingly there were four types of dining queries that were trending negatively by losing search queries.

Slower Growth Dining Queries

While the following queries types were experiencing growth they were doing so at noticeably lower rates of growth.

Related: Popular Google COVID-19 Searches, One Year into the Pandemic

What Do Negative and Slow Growth Trends Mean?

It could be that Chinese and pizza search queries experienced so much growth during the pandemic that people are ready for other dining-in options at an expanding range of cuisines.

Single people and couples may be re-entering the dining out scene, as evidenced by increased queries for happy hour.

Vacations Trending Upward

Vacation related keyword phrases are also trending upward. According to BrightEdge, searches for AirBnB are recording strong growth.

Hotel related phrases are trending a remarkable 350% in April 2021 over April 2020.

According to BrightEdge:

“Interest in Hotels reached the highest point in more than a year with nearly 35 million searches for Hotels in March by searchers in the US.”

Markets in the south are leading as destinations in hotel search queries.

Top Ten Hotel Search Queries

  1. Hotels in South Carolina
  2. Hotels in Alabama
  3. Hotels in Florida
  4. Hotels in Texas
  5. Hotels in Missouri
  6. Hotels in Tennessee
  7. Hotels in Hawaii
  8. Hotels in Virginia
  9. Hotels in California
  10. Hotels in Georgia

Travel Related Ecommerce Queries

Demand for luggage is experiencing a strong upward trend, reflecting how general travel trends can spill over into ecommerce. Look for renewed interest in travel guides as well, with searches also strongly trending upwards.

There is also strong demand for vacation and business related travel apparel. The top ten apparel type queries are dominated by seasonal and vacation clothing. But BrightEdge notes that suits also is trending upward, reflecting how the post-pandemic re-opening is causing changes that ripple out into ecommerce.

Top Ten Clothing Queries by Growth

  1. Shorts
  2. Swimwear
  3. Sandals and Slides
  4. Bottoms
  5. T-shirts
  6. Cleats
  7. Dresses and Skirts
  8. Suits
  9. Tops
  10. Casual

Digital Transformation

Digital Transformation has to do with taking businesses online, which includes video conferencing. BrightEdge notes that while this area is experiencing a contraction they note that “demand remains at levels dramatically higher than historic norms.

Trends for a Time of Transition

These trends are indicators of what may soon become explosive growth. However it is too soon to say we’ve reached a new normal or to say what that normal will be when we reach it.

BrightEdge offered their opinion of what they feel are clear trends:

  • The areas that saw the biggest surges in interest from COVID are mostly pulling back.
  • The areas that were hurt most by the Pandemic are also recovering as the vaccine rolls out.
  • A few key areas look they are here to stay as a “new normal” begins to emerge.


Read the full BrightEdge Report

Beyond the Search Evolution: How Vaccines Will Shape the Future of SEO and Digital