Google Trends Reveal How The World Turned To The IT Industry To Keep Business Going

I have been trying to find a way to quantify what the Managed IT industry has gone through the past few months and what it can expect going forward. One of the best ways that I could think of to evaluate this experience is through global search trends. Search behavior is a good indicator of what the demand was when the global pandemic first began and what it will be now several months later as things go back to normal. To capture this, I made a list of as many IT related keywords that I could think of and put them through Google Trends to see what the results were. I then lined these trends up with significant global events to see if there was any correlation.

Despite my curiosity, even I was not prepared for the dramatic increases that I discovered in the numbers. As MSPs, we talk about theses topics with our customers and we put out marketing messages, but sometimes it is difficult to comprehend what that “awareness” translates to on a local, national, and global level. With everyone seemingly riding the same content topics over the past few weeks, the data shows that it has had a significant influence on search behavior, as companies seek out solutions to their newfound technology problems.

Here are a few of the search queries that I found to be most significant to MSPs, that saw a major change in global search behavior since March 13, 2020 when the US declared a state of emergency:

Search Term – “Office 365”

If you are a Microsoft Reseller that did not grow your portfolio during the month of March you are probably kicking yourself. Interest in these services nearly doubled and still remain at higher than average levels. It is not too late to capitalize on this opportunity, as now is the time to make it known that you offer these services through social media content, PPC campaigns, and website visibility. While interest levels did not sustain all time highs for longer than a few days, they have appeared to settle at a level much higher than they were previously.

Search Term – “Microsoft Teams”

The clear winner in the Office 365 suite of services that is likely driving the majority of the interest is “Teams.” This saw the most dramatic spike in interest of any of the keywords that I evaluated. It also continues to remain high with slightly volatile swings week by week. Nevertheless, with this kind of exposure and interest being shown, it will certainly settle at a consistent volume that is much higher than what was shown in 2019. It is almost amazing how this panned out for Microsoft and the data indicates that MSPs need to start buying into Teams before they get left behind.

Search Term – “VPN”

The transition from working in the office to our spare bedrooms and living rooms caused a lot of companies to adopt technology that they should have long before the virus. One of these technologies is a Virtual Private Network and the ability to tunnel to their office from their home network. This is evident in the search data that we see from Google and what is even more interesting is that after a large spike, volume appears to be dwindling down to it’s previous volumes. This was rarely the case in any of the queries that I researched as there was almost always a residual increase after the upward and downward swings.

Search Term – “Virtual Desktop”

One of the search trends that would have the most substantial impact on the Managed IT industry is “virtual desktop.” A high adoption of cloud hosted desktop environments would push the industry forward at an accelerated pace. Whether or not this movement is actually happening is still to be determined, despite what the data indicates. This is also a very popular technology that is used to play online video games, an activity that has also been on the rise since the quarantine began. It may take a few months of evaluation to determine if businesses are actually going virtual, primarily after the summer begins and sheltered gamers move on to other outdoor activities.

Search Term – “Softphone”

If your customers didn’t have a VoIP phone system before the pandemic, they have to be strongly considering one now. For those that chose not to bring their physical handset home, a softphone on either their cell phone or computer is the next best option. Much like the term “VPN,” this work-from-home essential has also seen a large spike only to crash immediately after. Interest in VoIP and softphones will undoubtedly be increased compared to 2019, however this may not be as dramatic as telecom providers may have hoped.

Search Term – “Phishing”

If you are an MSP with a content marketing strategy, you have probably been posting articles and videos about COVID-related phishing scams. This narrative seemed to pick up substantially after the “work-from-home” buzz wore off and was thrust into the spotlight on a global scale. The data indicates this exact occurrence as interest in “phishing” reached an all-time high exactly one month after an emergency was declared in the United States, and only days after the US government announced their historic stimulus plan.

Search Term – “IT Support”

One of the biggest questions that I wanted answered was whether the need for IT support will increase, decrease or stay the same over the long term. Generic high volume search terms such as this are much like stocks that trade at a high volume. They should experience very little volatility given the massive change in behavior it would require to send it one way or the other. I was baffled by these results as there was actually a large drop in interest immediately after shelter began. On a positive note, this immediately rebounded and appears to be on track to reach all time highs throughout the next few months.

Search Term – “Laptop”

One of the least surprising increases in search volume was for the term “laptop.” This is the most basic of work-from-home needs, so it is only right that it should see a step increase. What I found to be most surprising however is the stable volume that it has appeared to settle at thereafter. Almost 2 full months after workers swapped their office chairs for recliners and there is still a significant need for new devices. MSPs that also bank on hardware sales should look to capitalize on this interest in the near future and do what they can to steer customers away from cheap consumer laptops with specs below best practice.

Search Term – “Router”

While I expected interest in “routers” to increase, I was curious how this trend followed almost the exact same path as the previously mentioned keyword, “laptop.” It appears that these increased at similar rates and even dipped in unison along the way. With many of us now relying on our home routers for more than just entertainment, this may just be home users researching features, troubleshooting, or shopping new devices. Nevertheless, where there is interest, there is opportunity. This may be another topic to fold into your marketing campaigns to help prospects and customers evaluate their options and get to know new features that they have never used before.