Business ideas and online marketing in times of Covid-19

Disclaimer: this article does not have any intention of giving information or medical advice about the new coronavirus disease covid-19. Let’s leave that to professionals. We hope that you and all your loved ones are safe and that you do everything in your power to not spread the virus any further.

The new normal: finding opportunity during corona crisis

Wherever you are reading this piece in the world, some measures against Covid-19 are probably taken (writing this on 9th of April 2020) and it’s very likely that you are experiencing some kind of lockdown situation, that heavily impacts many businesses both locally and globally.

World trade is likely to decrease somewhere between 13 and 32% (I know there’s a huge gap between these numbers, but we’re living in times of uncertainty) in 2020, which means this could potentially mean an impact up to 5% of the world’s GDP. In exact numbers this means, it could cost the global economy up to US $4 Trillion.

Enough of the doom scenarios or potential cost of the global economy. Maybe you even lost your own job, you have trouble getting business in or it’s hard to sell your product in these times. Although we’re aware that not everybody has this chance, or feel like they have the possibility to do so, I’d like to propose that

The ‘new normal’ is also a time for new opportunity

It forces entrepreneurs to rethink their businesses and to find smart ways to reach the needs of potential customers. We can even go so far that forces everyone to rethink priorities and purposes in life, which also translates to different consumer behavior.

Covid-19 and online marketing in 2020

Because of the economical changes, businesses may be more cautious spending huge budgets on online marketing. This is suggested by data, found in a survey by IAB: Digital ad spend may see a decrease of 33% in the period March-June 2020, where traditional media will possibly suffer a decline of 39%. This same research suggests that marketers think that Covid-19 will be worse for advertisers than the 2008 crisis.

Therefore it is interesting to see how this would affect your marketing strategy. A different research suggests the following:

Impact Covid19 marketing

The interesting thing here is that quite a significant group would say to invest more in (low cost channels like) SEO. In terms of long-term impact SEO is one of the top performing online channels and it remains to be an essential tactic for sustainable growth in the future. In times like this this means that you should invest in SEO now and will most likely see returns when the corona crisis is over.

The impact of Covid-19 on specific industries

Next to the fact that the Covid-19 (coronavirus) has its impact on different marketing channels, it is also interesting to see the developments per industry or even per product category.

Neil Patel already shared a series of articles about the impact that Covid-19 has on organic traffic and conversions for some industries:


The image shows that only a few industries have seen tremendous growth in organic traffic. Very obvious ones, such as food and healthcare, but also the finance industry saw a rise of almost 30% in organic traffic. This should probably be explained in the light of turbulent times on the stock market as a result of Covid-19.

The results for conversions are somewhat different, but shows that the only industry that really benefits, is the one of food, which isn’t very surprising seeing people stocking up products from supermarkets.

Covid19 Conversions Neil Patel


Next to that, an article was shared by SEMRush, where they looked at some preliminary winners and losers of the novel Coronavirus Covid-19.

Some interesting (but maybe not so surprising) winners included:

  • Remote software services such as Zoom
  • Home fitness
  • Streaming platforms
  • Food delivery companies

To get an idea about home fitness:

Home Fitness Google Trends

Since many countries are in lockdown and gyms aren’t open anymore, it is pretty obvious it happened, but still it is a market that you could explore for the upcoming months.

Some of the industries that suffered the most, unsurprisingly include:

  • Airlines
  • Events
  • Hospitality

Besides a decline in search volumes and traffic, these industries have mostly seen an enormous decrease in revenue, because of cancellations.

The impact of Covid-19 on e-commerce

Let’s dig a little deeper: what impact does the current situation have on different e-commerce product categories?

Stackline shared an amazing article and image with the top 100 fastest growing and declining categories in e-commerce in March, looking like this:

Ecommerce categories covid19

Surprisingly enough toilet paper “only” ended in place 24, very disappointing…  💩

But let’s not go in detail on every one of them. The fastest growing products can roughly be categorized in a few product types:

  • Food in general
  • Baking goods and kitchen supplies
  • Fitness equipment
  • Cleaning equipment
  • Personal care products
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Pet supplies
  • Office supply
  • Home appliances
  • Indoor hobbies and games

These categories include very specific niche products that are interesting to look into such as:

Bread machines Covid-19 outbreak

Bread machines Google Trends
Bread machines Ahrefs

Home appliances SEO potential

Bigger home appliances are also an interesting product category, since they have a very high average order value. Examples include refrigerators (also in the list), but also a more ‘seasonal’ product such as air conditioners. BUT this year could be very different for the product category air conditioning.

If this lockdown will last for a few more months, people in many countries in the northern hemisphere will be forced to still be working from home. Combine that with a hot summer and you have a perfect recipe for a huge increase in sales.

Furthermore, this product category doesn’t have a whole lot of competition from an SEO perspective. At least in some countries 😏

Remember the niche article that we wrote:

  • Search for the niche within a niche: in the case of air conditioners this means that portable air conditioners and all of its longtail might be a better niche to focus on than the generic keyword.
  • Search for other countries with lower competition: the US market may be saturated, but you could also focus on the UK or Australia, which both have very low keyword difficulty scores on Ahrefs:
Portable air conditioner UK

Portable air conditioner UK score

Portable air conditioners australia

Portable air conditioner Australia score

Portable air conditioner case in The Netherlands

If you’re able to speak different languages or you’re confident enough to outsource everything in a different language, there is always the possibility to check search volumes and keyword difficulty in other languages and countries.

We are both native Dutch speakers and have quite some experience dealing with the Dutch SEO and affiliate market, therefore we always like to check the potential in The Netherlands too. Portable air conditioners directly translate into Mobiele airco and as you can see, it has a significant average monthly search volume (peaks in June/July of over 300K!).

Mobiele airco Netherlands

Therefore we decided to give it a try and make it into an experiment: we wanted to see if we can generate a decent amount of organic traffic to our website, which translates to Compare mobile air conditioning.

In this blog we will track the performance of the website and show the steps we took.

Other notable niches to take advantage of now:

1. Trampolines

Trampolines Google Trends

As you can see in the Google Trends graph above, trampolines are trending. Pretty self-explanatory if you consider that many people have to stay on their own property. If you have a garden or have the space, it is a very nice way to get your children (or yourself 😅) to release some energy.

For this niche, also try to look past just the US market, which is always pretty saturated, there is still plenty to gain from the UK, Canada or Australia for instance:

Keyword difficulty Trampolines

Keyword difficulty for Trampoline in the UK

The combination of high search volume, trendline outbreak, low keyword difficulty and high average order value makes this an extremely interesting niche at the moment.

2. Office Desks

The topic office desks may already be over its peak, but it is still a product that has enormously risen in popularity. Similarly to trampolines, it is a topic that is pretty competitive in the US market, but definitely has some potential in the UK and Australia. While working from home, this product will still be appealing for a while.

3. Robot vacuum

Robot Vacuum Trends

This is one of the product categories that has shown growth in China over the past few months. As people spend more time at home, the need for cleaning the house has become increasingly important.

Over the last five years the trendline is also going up, which means it is expected that this product will increase in popularity, plus the potential outbreak because of lockdown rules. This product has relatively low competition, high volumes and a reasonably big longtail.

4. Sex Toys

The last category are sex toys and condoms that have seen a big rise in sales in some countries. This article shows the massive growth for particular stores in the UK and New Zealand. Sex toys definitely have some pretty heavy competition, but the search volumes are extremely high and you should look for specific markets that have lower keyword difficulty.

5. Online Wine Delivery

Finally, the fifth, a personal favorite: wine 🍷 . Everyone in quarantine seems to be drinking wine at the moment or are they stacking up wine just like toilet paper🧐?

Wine delivery Trends

One idea that would really benefit our own needs would be an overview website of all places near me that could deliver wine at the doorstep. And as Google Trends suggest we might not be the only ones interested in such an idea.

If you would like to get more inspiration for online business, check out our previous article about profitable SEO niches.

Other Covid-19 business opportunities

Obviously, next to online (SEO) business ideas based on some kind of commission structure, there are definitely other business opportunities that have emerged from the new normal. The hard truth is that many businesses, institutes or platforms are based on physical attendance. However, it isn’t impossible to tweak a business model into something that fits the current situation. A few themes that come to mind that have huge potential in this corona crisis:

  • Working remotely: Q&As, webinars, online courses
  • Productivity: tips, tools, online courses
  • Home workouts: online coaching, tutorials, training + meal plans
  • Remote lunch service: for remote office workers
  • Homeschooling: help in homeschooling or outsourcing homeschooling

One bonus tip is to create tutorials for people cutting their own hair 💇‍♂️ 💇‍♀️:

Cut your own hair trends

A general theme here is online education. Usually people learn from going to school or university, but also from co-workers, managers, gym trainers, friends, family or you make use of services of other people, because they are more skilled than you. As this is a time to reflect, it is also a time to learn.

So if you’re an entrepreneur/business owner, possessing knowledge, a skill or experience that others are interested in: SHARE IT and integrate that into your business model.

Overall, the key for many entrepreneurs and business owners (especially in marketing) is to create content. Now is the time to put that extra energy in blogging, vlogging, courses, webinars, Q&As, you name it.

Non-profit Covid-19 Business Trends and Ideas:

It’s also a time to help each other or seek ways of amusing others, regardless of any financial reward. Think of ideas such as:

  • Creating DIY face masks
  • DIY trading of products without money involved
  • Online book and movie clubs
  • Online raves and music festivals
  • The comeback of the drive-in (theater, cinema, restaurant, you name it)

Finally, create or join a mastermind group with other entrepreneurs that can challenge you! This will help to critically look at your current business and opportunities.

Also connect with us and other like-minded people in the SEO Hustlers community group. Let us know how you are dealing with the new normal!

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