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Data: How the Pandemic Changed Government Search Traffic

The annual report from Search.gov, which aggregates statistics from searches performed on federal government websites, shows an increase in overall activity as well as several changes in topic interest.

The COVID-19 pandemic left its fingerprints all over search traffic.

The annual report from Search.gov, which collects statistics from searches performed on federal government websites, makes that very clear. Total searches jumped from 296 million in 2019 to 321 million last year. And the change in searches by topic shows that the pandemic — along with the recession it caused — appears to have driven the increase.

Total searches on federal websites were the highest since 2017, when searches related to taxes were particularly high.


Searches for health-related topics last year more than doubled from 4.6 million to 11.8 million. But searches related to benefits — which were in high demand as virus-related shutdowns left people out of work — also jumped. That also likely drove an increase in searches related to logging into various systems.


Relatively few topic areas saw decreases in traffic, but the ones that did make sense given the pandemic. With fewer people traveling, searches related to “trusted traveler” programs declined 89 percent. And with many offices closing or moving their services online, searches to find offices dropped 48 percent.

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Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.
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