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How Google Analyzes Allergy Search Volume To Support Healthcare Marketers

The Obama administration has recruited engineers from Red Hat and Oracle, along with engineers on leave from companies like Google, to help fix the technological problems preventing people from signing up for government-mandated health insurance.

In fact, dozens of software engineers, developers, designers and analysts are working around the clock to improve the performance and the functionality of healthcare.gov, per a post on U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Web site.

Google relies on technology and search to understand patterns and how query volume relates to specific trends. We have seen search query volume attempt to predict flu trends, for example. The latest search research revolves around the increase in people affected by allergies in the United States, and what type of actionable insights marketers can use to reach allergy sufferers.

Google estimates that allergy-related searches will reach 100 million in 2013, growing in volume at about 20% year-over-year (YoY). Allergy sufferers search year-round on multiple devices, with more than 30 million searches expected in fall 2013, and a substantial portion will occur on mobile devices.

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Broad search terms have become more popular -- not just brand terms, according to Google's research. Symptom searches are growing 35% YoY, surpassing general category growth by 15%, and are generating more volume compared with general searches. More than two-thirds of allergy searches are symptom-related -- the search terms reflect watery eyes, itchy throat, and other terms that indicate self and/or pre-diagnosis research.

Depending on the season, searches change to reflect the allergies. The patterns are consistent. An increase in ragweed-related searches signals the start of fall, while pollen-related searches signify the coming of spring. It will be interesting to see whether the HHS or any other health government Web site takes advantage of search trends related to health.

My allergies are not significant, but I have a pet with severe allergies. The query results suggest pet allergies remain consistent throughout the year, but the category shows strong growth at more than 35% YoY, outpacing the general allergy category by more than 15%.

The research suggests marketers have a huge opportunity to connect with consumers and their pets, but they also have a responsibility to provide correct solutions to health problems as more patents, caregivers and healthcare providers increasingly use search to provide answers.

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