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How is the Coronavirus Changing the Way People Use the Internet?

The coronavirus has upended nearly every aspect of human life, including how search engines work and how people are using them. Most of these changes will have little effect on the field of online legal marketing, but some are creating plenty of volatility.

Here’s a smattering of the things that we’re seeing, in the Age of Coronavirus.

Search Engines Making Public Service Announcements

One of the most prominent changes that coronavirus has had on internet marketing has been the updates that search engines are making to their results pages (SERPs).

Explicitly coronavirus-related search queries are being met with numerous and massive SERP features that are meant to get important information across quickly and easily. Over on Bing, the coronavirus panel takes up half of the page.

Bing coronavirus search results page features

These SERP features, though, are heavy-handed at best, and are being rolled out for searches that carry even the smallest iota of intent for coronavirus-related information. Just look at this Google search for information on how the coronavirus is changing search engine behavior:

Google's coronavirus features appear in other queries
Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission.

Nevertheless, we’re likely to see these public service announcements for the time being, and law firms writing coronavirus related posts are going to have to compete with them for SERP real estate.

Lots of Web Traffic Volatility

While we’ve seen coronavirus-related blog posts get 10 times the page views, the overall traffic for law firm websites has been all over the place.

Some of the losers have been personal injury lawyers (courts are closed and fewer accidents are happening) and criminal defense lawyers (the crime rate is down). Winners have been workers’ compensation lawyers (essential workers are getting sick on the job) and family lawyers and mediators (the lockdown creates lots of marital strain).

These fluctuations, of course, depend on the extent of the coronavirus lockdown. Law firms in North Dakota are hardly feeling them at all, while those in New York City see them at their worst.

Internet Use is Up Across the Board

While it is volatile, there is little denying that there has been far more internet traffic now than there was before the coronavirus. Between people working from home, school moving online, and the era of the Zoom hangout, internet usage has surged. While much of this is confined to video conferencing and streaming, there has been some trickle down into search engine queries.

Mobile Traffic is Being Replaced by Desktop Traffic

The traffic that is on the internet has shifted away from mobile devices and back onto the old fashioned desktop because people aren’t moving around like they used to. This can be frustrating for law firms that have spent time and energy investing in a mobile-friendly version of their site. Firms that haven’t are getting a temporary bump from the lockdown.