It may seem trivial and churlish to think about marketing when it’s the health of people that is obviously the biggest worry, but a virus of this magnitude is bound to affect the economy and in turn, change search marketing.
Staying At Home
We are sure you all saw the deserted street of Wuhan where the coronavirus (or COVID-19) is thought to have originated and the empty streets of Italy from a few days ago.
As the various governments formulate plans to try and contain the spread of the virus, in fact, as we are typing this the UK Government have just launched their action plan this morning, more and more people will be instructed to stay home and work from home.
So, it’s increasingly likely that other companies will follow suit and what happens when people stay at home? They go on the internet and buy stuff.
Home shopping is probably going to see an increase, especially as there is a tendency to stockpile even though everyone is told not to do it.
China Supplies Us with Lots Of Stuff
16% of the worlds GDP comes from China, which is rather a lot and when compared to the last global virus crisis, SARS, they only accounted for 4.1%.
So, the impact on the global supply chain is bound to be affected, we don’t know to what extent yet, but if countries which rely on supplies from China, can’t get the supplies then logically this will cause major problems.
Industries That Are Affected
What else is going to be impacted? If we look at China, where people have been on lockdown for longer, we can see that film companies have been hit, some even bypassing cinema release and doing deals with streaming services.
Any activity that involves people being together is going to be effected, China has seen a rise in YouTube tutorials and on their social media service WeChat you can have a consultation with a Doctor online to see if you have any coronavirus symptoms.
Hoaxes And Social Media Companies
Whether it is malicious or supposed to be ‘funny’ they generally cause panic which leads to people googling for face masks, gas masks, and stockpiling goods.
You could say the larger social media companies, along with other media companies were a little slow to react to this but now they seem to have stepped up their game.
If you google ‘coronavirus’ now, the first result is a google SOS alert.
wtf is this, google? "SOS alert"? pic.twitter.com/roMkGQzwKU
— Amy “Vote Warren” Hoy (@amyhoy) February 28, 2020
If you click on the alert though, you only get the option to share the link on social media, so people aren’t really sure what to do with it…
Apparently all Google wants you to do with these COVID-19 SOS Alert boxes is share them to social media. pic.twitter.com/sYh634ZCgH
— SEO-Theory.Com (@seo_theory) February 24, 2020
Although most of the SERPS are for official health or governments health advice, there is some consternation that Google is making news headlines a priority at this stage.
Why Google is giving priority in SERPs to news results over official information from the CDC/WHO for #COVID19 in the US is beyond me. The box at the top, which simply states "COVID-19: SOS Alert", looks like an unfortunate failure of the knowledge graph. https://t.co/LdbiMudRZQ pic.twitter.com/YgS39Fsapm
— Dario Taraborelli (@ReaderMeter) March 1, 2020
If you search for coronavirus or #coronavirus on Twitter you will be met with this result first.
Similarly, a Facebook search brings back results from official health agencies.
SEO Ranking And Coronavirus
Again, this may seem not important in the grand scheme of things, but it is worth pointing out how problems in supply chains affect everything.
When we look back to the last global recession in 2008, sales slumped because people couldn’t get stuff.
Ranking number one or higher doesn’t really mean anything at all if nobody can buy anything.
Of course, if people have less money then they are less likely to spend it on anything other than food, drink, medical supplies and escapism (games, movies, books).
If people can’t afford to pay for digital marketers, then this industry will take a hit too.
We Don’t Know Anything Else Yet So Don’t Panic
Everyone is doing their best to get through this crisis and at the moment there is so much that is unknown.
So, just like a teacher at the end of assembly, we will leave you with some condescending tips.
Read fact-checking articles from established companies.
Just because Karen has posted on Facebook that coronavirus can be caught by singing China In Your Hand by T’Pau, doesn’t mean it’s true.
If you have children, don’t scare them but don’t hide what is happening from them.
Oh, and get your flu jab, it won’t stop you from getting the coronavirus but if you don’t get other types of flu, then doctors and hospitals won’t have to spend time and resources checking to see what you’ve got.