Posted on April 2, 2020

COVID-19 Paid Search Trends

COVID-19 has changed a lot of things as people work from home, social distance, and practices struggle to find new ways to communicate with patients during uncertain times. Although it feels uncertain, now is not the time to suspend services like PPC and Facebook advertising.

Keep reading for a breakdown of our data and how campaigns are performing right now!

Google Advertising

Our Google Ads team has been keeping a close eye on how the outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted lead generation and ad engagement. Starting on March 1st, our team has been tracking the overall average performance of our campaigns and comparing them to the previous period.

The numbers we’ve seen so far paint a positive picture for those who are able to continue their Search campaigns with Google. We plan to update these weekly to keep track of the latest trends to keep you informed.

In all cases, traffic has dropped, but conversion rates have increased substantially. This simply shows that although overall traffic and impressions for services are reduced, the quality of the traffic is increased. Many practices are currently seeing increased Search leads as a result.

Interestingly, this is in sharp contrast to Facebook, which has seen large increases for Ad-based traffic over the past few weeks.


March 11-20 (Compared to March 1-10)

LASIK, maybe unsurprisingly, had the biggest jump with a 109% increase in conversions. This makes sense when we consider that the LASIK demographic is staying/working at home, and finding things to do to fill their time.

  • 78% increase in conversion rate
  • 18% increase in total conversions
  • 6.5% reduction in cost per conversion
  • 31% reduction in clicks
  • 20% reduction in impressions

Update (3/21-3/27):

The LASIK numbers continue to improve! Even as traffic drops, both total conversions and conversion rates have consistently improved over the last few days.

If you can manage it, these numbers show there is still plenty of merit in promoting your LASIK practice. If you’re looking for ideas, let us know and we’ll be happy to talk.

  • 3.5% increase in conversion rate
  • 13% increase in total conversions
  • 18% reduction in cost per conversion
  • 13% increase in clicks
  • 9.5% reduction in impressions


March 11-20 (Compared to March 1-10)
Cataract advertising has seen a moderate increase in conversions at 45%. Our specialists were surprised to see an increase at all here, given that this is the demographic most impacted by COVID-19.

Although, like the LASIK demographic, this could be about future planning during forced downtime.

  • 81% increase in conversion rate
  • 109% increase in total conversions
  • 26% reduction in cost per conversion
  • 17% reduction in clicks
  • 6% reduction in impressions

Update (3/21-3/27):

We’re starting to see a small drop in performance for cataract surgery campaigns. Considering how strong the previous period was, these drops are not dramatic but do indicate a slow decline in people seeking out cataract expertise.

Overall, the numbers are still up over pre-pandemic numbers. It will be interesting to see how they fare over the next few weeks.

  • 11% reduction in conversion rate
  • 26% reduction in total conversions
  • 13% increase in cost per conversion
  • 17% reduction in clicks
  • 25% increase in impressions

Eye Care

March 11-20 (Compared to March 1-10)

Eye Care (‘Eye Glasses/Eye Exams, etc) saw conversion increases of 57% in this period. According to Spenser Pontbriand, Director of Search Services, this is the least surprising increase.

People have been rushing to get their appointments taken care of or order their contact lenses, etc. before practice closures hit home. If your practice offers online ordering for eye care supplies, there is ample opportunity to reach this audience using paid search.

  • 45% increase in conversion rate
  • 45% increase in total conversions
  • 7% reduction in cost per conversion
  • 7% reduction in clicks
  • 11% reduction in impressions

Update (3/21-3/27):

There have been moderate drops across the board for general eye care terms this week. Unlike surgical procedures where people could simply be doing future research, we’re starting to see a reduction in the individuals seeking out more basic eye care needs.

If you offer an online store, there is still a huge opportunity for you here. Likewise, if you’re still open for emergencies, this may be worth promoting so people know where to find you when it really counts. Otherwise, this may be one to pull for now if you’re looking to save on advertising spend.

  • 21% reduction in conversion rate
  • 66% reduction in total conversions
  • 40% increase in cost per conversion
  • 57% reduction in clicks
  • 46% reduction in impressions

What This Means For Your Practice

In summary, generally, we have seen a positive increase where it counts from the COVID-19 outbreak for those continuing to advertise their services using Google Ads. Although overall ad traffic is down, it seems those conducting eye care related searches are high intent users that are more likely to convert.

Our advice? Don’t withdraw your Google Ad marketing if possible. If you are looking to cut spending, we are happy to provide advice on ways to adjust your budget or look at lower-cost campaign types.

With other advertisers pulling their marketing, your business could gain more impression share alongside cheaper click costs.

It’s important to have a plan in place for scheduling appointments and consults with these leads once business restrictions are lifted, and your practice will be grateful to have a back-log of prospective patients ready to be booked.