Blog: 2020 as told by website users

Along with mince pies, Secret Santa and Christmas Jumper Day, marketers have their countdown to Christmas milestones including discussing this year’s John Lewis ad, and the reveal of Google Year in Search, which takes you on a journey through the answers that the world searched for that year. It’s no surprise that 2020’s online searches were nothing short of a rollercoaster ride, full of flashbacks to Carole Baskin, banana bread and DIY haircuts.

Taking inspiration from Google Year in Search, we look back at how website behaviour changed throughout 2020 on, the cities’ official tourist information website, and see how the pandemic impacted what information website users were seeking out.

January 2020 – New Year, New Beginnings

As a new year and a new decade began, website users were keen to start the year in style by dining out during NE1’s Restaurant Week. As the top viewed page on the website that month, website users were supporting local restaurants by looking to dine out during a quieter time of the year. Those wishing to get fit and raise money for a good cause looked forward to the 40th Anniversary event of the Great North Run, with the ‘Entering the Great North Run’ page proving popular.

February 2020 – 2020 Plans Begin

February was a month of making plans for website users. The ‘What’s On’ page was the top viewed on the website, followed by the ‘Metro Map’ as people were planning visits and getting out and about. Music was a key interest, with the music events category being highly visited and the announcement of 2020’s ‘This is Tomorrow Festival’ was a big hit.

March 2020 – Lockdown Looms

Early March saw tickets go on sale for the City Guide’s Monument Tours, an ever-popular annual event offering a unique opportunity to see the city from a breath-taking vantage point. Traffic dropped dramatically in line with Boris’ first announcement on Monday 9th March, and users started to seek out information regarding local markets and shops instead of events and hospitality. The new website launched at the end of the month.

April 2020 – Getting to Grips with Lockdown

With the country in lockdown, visitors were coming on to gain information about the Grainger Market deliveries as people looked for ways to get their essential goods safely. The website’s Coronavirus information hub launched and proved to be a useful source of information. Making the most of daily exercise permitted through lockdown, trends emerged of visitors seeking out information about local parks such as Jesmond Dene.

May 2020 – The Great Outdoors

At a time where users would have been attending festivals and events over the Bank Holidays in May, instead, they were seeking out new locations for their Government approved exercise. Jesmond Dene, Thornley Woodlands and Chopwell Woodlands all entered the top ten most visited. The ‘Virtual Tours’ blog was the most read blog on the site that month as people longed to experience NewcastleGateshead’s cultural offerings once again.

June 2020 – A Taste of the ‘New Normal’

With several months of lockdown behind them, users wished to experience a taste of everything NewcastleGateshead has to offer from home or safely from a distance. ‘Newcastle at The Drive-In’ was the top-visited event on the site, and food delivery options were proving popular as people missed dining out. The blog posts ‘Delivery Afternoon Teas’ and ‘Where to Order a Takeaway in NewcastleGateshead’ were the 4th and 5th most visited pages on the site.

July 2020 – Hurrah for Hospitality 

July saw the much-anticipated reopening of hospitality and the announcement of ‘Eat Out to Help Out’. It is no surprise hospitality listings saw a surge in interest, with 38% of all website traffic going to this section of the site. With the option to socialise outdoors, ‘Jesmond Beach Box’ was the top viewed listing, and the blog post ‘Which Pubs, Beer Gardens and Roof Terraces are Open in NewcastleGateshead’ was the 4th most visited section on the site. ‘Good to Go’ labelling was introduced on the website, displaying venues which had received the Government approved accreditation. Covid-Secure’ safety panels were added to business listings.

August 2020 – Users ‘Eat Out to Help Out’

August was dominated by ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, with over 200,000 pageviews recorded to the category listing the participating restaurants that month alone, and the site ranked first for the term ‘Eat Out to Help Out NewcastleGateshead’ on Google. Virgin Money Unity Arena was the top viewed ‘Thing to Do’ as Newcastle became the first place in the world to host socially distant live events.

September 2020 – Restrictions Return

With the North-East being placed back in restrictions halfway through the month before the introduction of the tiered system, the ‘Coronavirus Practical Information’ page was the top-visited on the website. As some restaurants extended ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ independently, the landing page was the second most visited page on the site, followed by the blog ‘Continue Eating Out to Help Out’,

October 2020 – Christmas Comes Early

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas in October with the top-visited page on the site being Fenwick’s ‘Santa on the Rooftop’ event. Website users were well and truly craving some festive spirit in their lives by visiting Christmas related events earlier than ever. As people patiently waited to hear if fireworks displays would take place, they flocked to the fireworks category.

November 2020 – The Christmas Market Goes Virtual

As we entered a second full national lockdown, NewcastleGateshead Initiative launched the Virtual Christmas Market supporting Partners and local businesses during what should have been their busiest time of the year. The Fenwick Window reveal went online and was the top viewed event of the month.

December 2020 – Christmas Shopping returns

With the reopening of shops in early December and Christmas around the corner, it is no surprise that top viewed pages were shopping dominated. The ‘Metrocentre’ was the top viewed page on the website and ‘Ignite at Gibside’ was the top viewed event as households and bubbles visited Gibside to experience a trail of light, lanterns, fantasy and fire.

As an unpredictable and unforgettable year ends, has been proud to support the incredible local businesses and attractions which have adapted to the ‘new normal’ and will continue to showcase everything the region has to offer in 2021. We are certain that any rescheduled events will be even bigger and better!

If you’re planning an event which will take place when it’s safe to do so and would like it to appear on, please submit it via the Events Submission Form. Alternatively, if you would like your business to be considered to appear as a listing on the website, please Contact Us via the pop up on the site.

Blog by Lisa Kelly, Digital Marketing Manager