Productive pandemic: Searches for free online courses are up 309%


Available online classes include ways to upgrade your resume, add to current skills, or land a better job.

People want to be productive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though many are working from home, they still see the light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel. And, they want to conserve money. The data provider SEMrush’s Google searches revealed some remarkable results. 

Searches and results include:

  • Free online education,+247% 
  • Online business marketing courses, +54%
  • Free SEO course, +52%, 
  • Online marketing courses, +49%
  • Online business courses, +49%

SEE: COVID-19: A guide and checklist for restarting your business (TechRepublic Premium)

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No-cost tech education

The ever-changing tech world is a popular arena in which to explore courses, with education outlets that offer free online tech classes to advance IT skills. These include:

The tech company Fortinet is offering self-paced training for technical security and broad cyber awareness and has started the program with three courses at no cost. More free courses will be added later. The free classes are meant to be supplemental to those working from home, as well for those actively looking for a tech position, the company said. 

“We see a greater need for our security courses, as the pandemic has led to rapid IT transitions to a remote workforce model and subsequently an increase in potential threat risks,” said Rob Rashotte, VP of global training and field enablement at Fortinet. Rashotte noted the talent shortage in the tech industry.

The key takeaways from SEMrush’s data:

  • The fastest-growing educational resources in April were Brainpop, Coursera, EdX, Khan Academy, and Socratic, traffic of all these is up by more than 50%.
  • The search “free online courses” saw 809% increase in searches in April, Googled more than 1 million times. 
  • Online courses by Harvard, Yale, Tesda, and Coursera skyrocketed more than 1,000% in a search on courses during quarantine. 
  • Tech courses for Excel, computer science, Python, coding, and programming were all up by 100% in search. Other popular variants include data science, web development, and cybersecurity.

Surprising trend skepticism

But the trend was met with some cynicism: “Honestly, it looks like businesses took advantage of people having lots of spare time and started overwhelming them with lots of ads, newsjacking COVID-19 trends, promoting free courses and content,” said Oleg Shchegolev, CEO and co-founder of SEMrush. “In truth, most of this was pure trash; just businesses trying so hard to ride the lockdown wave. And only a few businesses dealt with all that responsibly.”

SEE: Top 100+ tips for telecommuters and managers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Despite what Shchegolev said, his company is not without associations to free online courses and training. On Oct. 29-30, 2020, to celebrate Global Marketing Day, SEMrush will offer a 24-hour online conference streamed live, “Around the marketing world in 24 hours.” It expects 150 speakers (“savvy CMOs” and “the brightest” in-house marketers), from three continents participating in sessions throughout the day. Speakers are from IBM, Roku, Adobe, LinkedIn, Unicef, Hitachi, Microsoft, Legal Zoom, Pfizer, and more. It will be live-streamed from studios in New York, Los Angeles, Sydney, and London.

The company also has SEMrush blog and webinars designed for varying levels of expertise, from novice to seasoned expert, and the SEMrush Academy, a free source and course, with an official certificate when the course ends. More than 200,000 students have graduated from the academy and more than 10,000 received certificates in April.

Also see

Studying with video online lesson at home

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto



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