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Most Googled Methodologies: The Surge In Agile During COVID

Google searches for Agile methodologies have risen 28% since 2017.

What can Google search behaviour tell us about the methodologies adopted by project managers in the height of a global pandemic?

It’s been one of the strangest business years on record. Project managers have been forced to adapt to an entirely new set of circumstances. It’s no surprise that many businesses have had to fundamentally change how they deliver work.

2020 brought a lot of attention to how teams operate.

By analyzing Google search behaviour, we can get a glimpse of human behaviour during a global pandemic.

In this article

What Project Management Methodologies Are Trending?

As a search marketing agency, we’re eternally curious about search engine behaviour.

So we’ve investigated global keyword search volume around the 9 most popular project management methodologies .

Here is what we found:

Most Googled Methodologies Stats
  • Scrum related queries up +11%
  •  Agile related queries up +10%
  • Kaban related queries up +19%
  • Scrumban related queries up +54%

In principle: methodologies that fit under the ‘agile’ umbrella saw notable gains during the initial impact of the pandemic.

It makes total sense too…

The core values of agile include having a process that enables adaptation. In 2020, when curveballs are being thrown left and right, people are going to naturally gravitate away from rigid working structures.

Agile has become a dominant philosophy for many, and the pandemic may have been the motivator to jump ship from old ways of working.

Most Googled Methodologies Agile Boat
Most Googled Methodologies-stats

The year over year increase in Google searches for a variety of methodologies.

In the table above, we see an increase in ‘broad searches’. If we think about the intent of users behind these searches, we could presume that they are new to the topic. For example: “agile management methodology”.

It’s something a user would search when they want broad information around a topic. A query they make when just discovering a new way of managing their team.

If we look at the search engine result pages (SERP), we can see that google recognises this. All the rankings are beginner & introductory guides:

Agile Management Google Search Screeenshot

The search result page for “agile management methodology” — the majority of the results are intro guides to the methodology.

What Specific Searches Are Receding

Most Googled Methodologies Stats

The year over year decrease in Google searches for certain project management methodologies.

Many of the receding keywords are not associated with agile principles, like extreme programming and waterfall, for example.

However, many are “longer tail,” meaning they are longer and more specific. Take “extreme programming in software engineering” or “waterfall model testing”. The user making this query is somewhat more educated and more aware of the uses of the methodology.

Seeing searches drop for these kinds of searches may indicate there has been a reduction in practitioners troubleshooting day-to-day.

What Does This Mean?

From this data, would it be fair to speculate that COVID & remote working is signalling the end of more rigid ways of working? I’d speculate no

If we dig a little deeper and look at cumulative searches across agile philosophies and more rigid methodologies between 2017 – 2020, both categories have seen a good amount of search growth.

Looking at cumulative queries for rigid methodologies like extreme programming, waterfall, and PMBOK from 2017-2020, there has been 23% growth.

Despite big drops over the initial hit of the pandemic, searches grew 5% between 2019 – 2020.

The same goes for the cumulative of those ‘agile’ searches (Agile, Scrum & Kanban queries) from 2017-2020: there has been 28% growth.

From 2019-2020 these searches grew 7%.

In Summary

I don’t believe COVID has been “the nail in the coffin” for the likes of waterfall ways of working. However, it’s clear that the sudden change in working conditions caused project managers to react and re-assess how they manage teams.

So although the pandemic has caused a shift in working, this may not stick after normality resumes. Some teams may prefer the new ways of working, while others may go back to how they used to work. Only time will tell.

Check out our list of agile tools to help facilitate your move to an agile methodology. Subscribe to the DPM newsletter for more insights on project management methodologies.

Written by Michael at Salience, a UK search marketing agency with +12 years working with market leading clients.

Related Read: What Is The Scaled Agile Framework®? Explained For Project Managers

By Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and founder of I've been in the industry for more than 15 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from film to CMS', games to advertising and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

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1 Comment

  • Thanks Michael, This are such a detailed insights about the most Googled methodologies. And, I must say that agile tools you mentioned are worth a try, specially for all those managers like me who have just started.