The Blog: Brexit, Trends and Your Business

Search Engines and Brexit On The Mind

Last week we explored how Google search trends can be used with keywords tools to create an effective digital marketing campaign.

So what can search data reveal about, one of the biggest news stories of our time, Brexit? And how can SMEs use these insights to inform their digital marketing strategy?

Peaks in search volume have highlighted significant events during Brexit. The term "Brexit" reached its two highest points this year, in January around the time that Parliament rejected the Prime Minister's deal with the EU and between 24th and 30th when the UK was supposed to leave the EU.

Interestingly, from a business perspective, at these two times when Brexit madness was at its peak, searches in the UK for cheap flights and cheap hotels were also at their height. Cleary people in the UK were looking for a break from the madness of Brexit.

Businesses in the Holiday industry with a strong digital marketing presence will have profited from this.

Though from a business perspective, it seems that Brexit has made people less confident to spend in the longer term, as there appears to be a negative overall effect on the number of people looking for cheap flights and cheap hotels.

Search data also gives important clues as to the outcome of events that have affected Brexit. In the UK prior to the European elections, which the UK took part in because of the extension of the Brexit deadline, the search term 'Brexit Candidate' was up 2,850%.

This spike foreshadowed big wins for political parties who had a strong stance on remaining or leaving and the disastrous results for the two biggest parties in the UK, whose policies were heavily criticised for being unclear or on the fence. 

An example of how this kind of search information is useful, from a business perspective, can be shown by looking at event in June/July: the 2019 Women's World cup. The search data for June shows that people in Ghana and UK were really getting into it, especially in Scotland while they were still in the tournament.Then would have been an excellent time for bars and restaurants in these areas to promote that they were showing the games, and for sports shops to promote related merchandise.

Search Engines, Brexit & How Things Are Going?

Back to Brexit, anyone trying to understand public opinion in the UK to work out what will happen next will certainly find interesting reading in the most popular rising search terms.

1)     revoke Brexit petition

2)     petition Brexit revoke article 50

3)     revoke article 50 petition

4)     cancel Brexit petition 

5)     Brexit petition 2019


Rising related searches for 'Brexit' from the last 90 days. Taken from Google trends on 19.06.2019

It doesn't take a genius to see from this information that a significant number of people in the UK are looking to prevent Brexit. Related searches can also help businesses see how their products are being perceived and to make changes accordingly. For example, HBO will be taking note of the rising term for  'Game of Thrones ending'

1)     Game of Thrones ending bad

2)     Game of Thrones worst ending

3)     Game of Thrones bad ending

4)     Game of Thrones ending revealed

5)     Game of Thrones ending disappointing

Rising related searches for 'Game of Thrones ending' from the last 90 days. Taken from Google trends on 24.06.2019

No doubt search data will play a role in shaping the prequels or sequels to HBO's hit show which appears to have gone out with a whimper. As you have seen, related terms can point towards the outcome of political events and give companies valuable feedback on how their products and services are doing.

Regional Perspective on Brexit

Regional search data reveals some very interesting trends on Brexit. The Brexit referendum results split the four countries in the UK down the middle, with Scotland and Northern Ireland voting to remain and England and Wales voting to leave.

Unsurprisingly, Scotland is the most popular part of the British Isles in terms of searches for  'remain petition' looking to 'revoke article 50' and cancel Brexit. However, second and third in the list are a surprise. The search term is more popular in England and Wales than in Northern Ireland:

1)     Scotland              100%

2)     Wales                   94%

3)     England                74%  

4)     Northern Ireland   57%

 Search density for 'revoke article 50 petition' related Brexit term in the last 90 days by country in the UK. Taken from Google trends on 19.06.2019

If public opinion in Wales or England shifts any further towards remain, this could dramatically change the outcome of Brexit, but before remainers in England get too excited, they should look at results in England for 'Petition'

1)     Brighton             100%           

2)     Cambridge          94%

3)     Oxford                 93%

4)     York                     89%

5)     Bristol                  86%

6)     Edinburgh            85%

Search density by city for the term 'petition' in the last 90 days for the UK. Taken from Google trends on 20.06.2019

All of the top five UK cities on this list are from England, with a higher search density than even Scotland's capital, but 4/5 of these cities are in the top ten remain cities in all of the UK. So petition searches are not necessarily from people who have changed their minds. One thing is certain, these people are not happy.

Going back to the by country results for 'revoke article 50',

1)     Scotland              100%

2)     Wales                   94%

3)     England                74%  

4)     Northern Ireland   57%

Search density for 'revoke article 50 petition' related Brexit term  in the last 90 days by country in the UK. Taken from Google trends on 19.06.2019

The trend in Wales is definitely more significant than in England: the percentage of people who voted remain in Wales was 47.5% to 52.5, only slightly higher than in England (46.6% to 53.4%)  but these petition searches are at 94% of the density found in Scotland which voted 62% to 38% for remain.These trends, therefore, suggests a shift towards remain in Wales.

The triumph of remain parties in Wales during the recent European election appear to confirm this direction. If three of the four nations within the United Kingdom have public opinion in favour of remain, this could tip the balance in favour of the UK remaining in the EU or at least force a soft Brexit.

Regional Perspective of Search Engines for Business

Breaking down search trends into regions can also provide valuable feedback for Local businesses looking to find the best long tail Keywords choices. These often differ from city to city, good SEO must take this into consideration. For instance, the highest search volume in America for the Hipster coffee of choice: 'Flatwhite' are in California, New York, and Texas(they must drink a lot of Flat Whites in Austin).This could be a keyword for businesses in these areas to integrate into their content strategy.

Alternatively, these trends could also be a sign of 'the next big thing'. Food fads often start in major trend-setting cities like New York and then move outwards. So now might be a good time for small town Asian restaurants to start pushing steamed buns on their social media and in their keywords

Sometimes a regional perspective can make all the difference, especially in combination with digital marketing apps like rankingCoach. 

Brexit and Business

So how are businesses responding to Brexit? It is a controversial issue in the UK where companies have to be careful not to alienate or divide their audiences. Each company has to decide for themselves the best way to do this. Sometimes political events force a decision.

For example, In response to the leader of Brexit Party, Nigel Farage having a milkshake thrown at him, Mcdonalds stopped selling milkshakes in Edinburgh, whereas their biggest rival Burger King, seized on the opportunity and aligned themselves with the dominant remain sentiment in Scotland Tweeting:

Dear people of Scotland.


We’re selling milkshakes all weekend.


Have fun.


Love BK#justsaying

Burger King received negative press from some of the tabloids in England for this tweet but probably sold a few more milkshakes in Edinburgh, so the responses from both companies clearly had reasoning. One thing is certain, Search trends will have played a big role in their decision-making processes. After reading this article and understanding what trends can show you, they should do the same in yours.

We hope this article has inspired you. For more interesting ideas on digital marketing, check out these blog articles:

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17 Jul, 2019