There was a 98% increase in people making COVID-related searches on Google last month. We knew that something was off as early as the first week in January. Since the holidays were gone, when the first Monday and Tuesday following the New Year arrived, we anticipated a spike in traffic. They didn’t blow the doors off of any of our dentists’ Google Analytics accounts. We were puzzled but didn’t sweat it too much. Dental office traffic and leads tend to be higher toward the end of the month.
As January progressed, we still didn’t see the deluge we were looking for. Only a handful of clients saw a significant increase at the end of January. A few of those offices also increased their dental pay-per-click ads budget in January. This made them not just outliers but poor comparisons for our dentists who either didn’t have Google Ads or didn’t increase their spending.
Most clients had a decent month by the end of the month, but traffic to their websites and new dental patient lead (phone calls and emails) volumes were comparable to other good months in 2021.
We compared year of year trends in searches for ‘dentist’ on Google using Google Trends. Here’s the graph:
Source: Google Trends.
Look closely and you’ll see that January 2022 was lower than January 2021 and January 2020.
We checked for an inverse correlation between COVID search volume and dentist search volume.
Source: Google Trends
Search volume for “covid” was higher in January 2022 than in March 2020. This trend naturally followed the infection rate of COVID-19.
According to the New York Times, the infection rate was through the roof; this coming while vaccination rates continue to rise.
Source: Google, Our World Data
We found a connection between the increase in COVID searches and the decrease in dentist searches. Google Trends shows an uptick in people searching for ‘dentist during covid’ in January 2022.
Maybe these people wanted to go to a dentist and wanted to find out if they were allowed to go.
Maybe they wanted to know if it was safe.
Google doesn’t give us those details, and we don’t know how many people performed this search or searches like it. Google Trends only shows data trends as a percentage change.
In the first week of January 2022, there was a better than 77 percent increase in searches compared to the lowest points in the graph throughout the previous 11 months. January 16-22 had a 98 percent increase.