10 Ways SEO Could be Helpful During the Pandemic COVID-19
When pandemics hit, life takes priority over everything else. This means businesses will take a hit and sometimes the predictions of economic collapse may leave a lot of people convinced that there is not much else they can do. But take heart, it will come to an end and in the meantime, while you shelter from the storm, you can still use SEO to effectively sustain your business in different ways.
It’s a Chance to Show Empathy
When times are good you often use words like” we understand, we care, valued customer” and so on. When a pandemic strikes, this is the time to really walk that talk. Remember these are people who receive your newsletters, comment in discussion forums and some even left great reviews about your business. Is this the time to shove products down their throats? Certainly not! it’s time to be an understanding friend. The content you share should let them know ‘you know what they are facing’. Showing the human side of your business is a good idea. People usually feel happier when they know they can relate with a business and the business understands the situation. If your business is helping the community in some way during the epidemic, share that in a newsletter or find a way of including it in your content.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every industry and business in some form, ranging from complete shutdowns to massive increases in buying in certain sectors.
It’s difficult to grasp the full implications of the global action to restrict the spread of the virus – everywhere you look there’s another impact, and day-by-day, those changes compound and become larger economic considerations for the long term.
And definitely, COVID-19 will have long-term impacts. While, theoretically, we may be able to get back to some level of normal life within months, the businesses that have been forced to close, or are struggling through, will take time to come back, if they ever do. Concurrently, online shopping is also on the rise, highlighting the convenience and ease of use of such to many more people, which could lead to a major consumer shift.
Search Engine Optimization: An Overview
SEO is, essentially, setting your site up to be found by search engines. There are many aspects of optimization, both on-page and off-page. Most often, SEO is focused on Google, which means many of the guidelines and rules of thumb are based on what the search engine giant has said about how it ranks pages and evaluates sites.
A common misconception is that SEO is a one-time or “set-it-and-leave-it” task. The idea that you can optimize and clean up a website once, and then focus your efforts elsewhere, is a hopeful mindset that can create poor results for your digital marketing.
However, even though you should be approaching SEO as a long-term strategy, right now is a great time to dive in. Some of your SEO tasks may bring some quick results, but for the most part what you’ll be doing will help set you up for future success.
SEO and the Coronavirus
Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) have always been unpredictable. Newer features like ‘featured snippets’ (which provide a snippet of a website that answers the query so users don’t have to leave the SERP), ‘people also ask’ boxes, and local packs (the map preview) have continually disrupted SEO tactics. Google SERP features are always meant to better serve searchers, but it does mean SEO is constantly evolving.
With the coronavirus, websites have an entirely new world of unpredictability. Here are a few of the major changes and constraints that are impacting local businesses, ecommerce sites, and all other websites.
- Changes to GMB: Google My Business has become key for local business SEO. However, Google has restricted some features that may affect companies.
- Disruptions in search trends: It’s no secret that the world has moved almost entirely online. This has shaken up search trends in ways that both positively and negatively affect websites. Online sales are booming, but folks are also looking for info like DIY projects, recipes, and homeschooling.
- YMYL & EAT: Two factors in Google’s evaluation of websites are known by these acronyms. They stand for Your Money or Your Life and Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness. These mean that A) Google pays particular attention to anything that might impact someone’s money or health and B) Google factors in authors’ and sites’ knowledge and accuracy.
- Changes to SERPs: Covid-19 has caused Google to make some significant changes to SERPs on queries related to the virus. Searchers looking for anything even slightly related to Covid are shown top stories, health information from reputable sources, and alerts. Anything beyond those top results are pushed down the page and into the second page and beyond.
Top of the Mind Awareness
SEO allows you to stay visible. During a pandemic, the minds of people are preoccupied with survival. If your business provides some of the things necessary for survival like food, medication and like we have found out from this pandemic, toilet paper, you may already be on top of the mind for many people, but SEO will still help you get that edge over other competitors. Even for the businesses that may not be involved in essential products, you can still use SEO to maintain top of the mind awareness which will become an asset once the storm blows over.
Chance to Put Distance Between You and the Competition
The competition is likely to take their foot off the pedal. The fact that people are locked up in their homes may make the competition believe that they have no reason to push their SEO strategies. Google, however, does not stop working because of a pandemic. Many people are still searching and Google is ranking. It’s the best time to get a better ranking since the competition to be noticed is reduced. In some niches, you might find you are the only one still active.
By optimizing for particular words at the time of a pandemic, you will be giving yourself a head start because when the competition finally resumes their SEO efforts, they will have some catching up to do.
Remember the end of the pandemic may not be near, it could take months, and that is a long time to get far ahead.
Reinforces Expertise and Authority
Some people will take the time to catch up on their reading. If they are going to be cooped up in the house, they might as well find some great content to read. Having great content in your field of expertise will be an opportunity to attract the attention of such people. There are many tools you could use to find out what keywords people are searching for in your area of expertise, you can then optimize for those keywords. You are likely to have a lot of people searching for information related to the pandemic, but some are looking for something different. The impression you make during the time of the lockdown will last even after that and you might win over more visitors to your site because they realize you are an authority in that field.
Provides Analytical Insight into Demand
Using SEO analytics, you should be able to predict the demand curve for your goods or services, this is vital information that can help a business plan for a possible slump. The organic traffic that you get is a sign of interest. During the pandemic, people’s needs change but it’s not always drastic. Sometimes it may be according to the amount of money they still have at their disposal. A person, for example, may buy chocolates during the first and second week of a pandemic but later they may find it a luxury that they can do without.
SEO analytic tools can show you how fast interest in your product or service is dropping and you can start planning your next move. This can also be used by economists to predict the impact of a pandemic.
You can Gain From Searchers who Still Want to Buy
Not everyone is strapped for cash, some still have the money but would rather not go out to spend it. Local SEO will help such people find businesses that can provide for their needs within the area that they are in. Even in a recession, there will still be people ready to spend.
If you ignore SEO, you will not find these people, that will be revenue missed and yet during a pandemic, every business needs to struggle to survive. SEO can, therefore, keep commerce alive despite the hard times.
Reveals New Trends
For SEO practitioners who keep a keen eye on search trends during a time like this, there is a lot to learn. Despite the disruption COVID-19 might cause, people will reinvent themselves. They may start to have more interest in certain things that they did not.
Think of it, right now an item like toilet paper is being searched for like never before. Maybe it will become a trend even after the pandemic.
Learning such things prepares an SEO practitioner for the changes that will come. It’s obvious that things will change after the world has gone through this and it pays to be in the know of new trends.
1. Stay at the Forefront of Google Trends
People are home, which means people are searching online.
Monitor Google Trends for new questions or topics that people are asking about your industry during this time.
If you can stay on top of this data and really start to recognize trends relevant to your business, you can begin creating content around those topics.
When sales pick back up again, you’ll be ready.
Your content will be out there, hopefully turning into the resource people needed; thus, improving your SEO and bringing more traffic to your website.
2. Monitor Google Search Console & Keyword Rankings
It is important to monitor GSC or third-party tools for keyword changes more closely than you normally do.
In times where there is great demand or demand has completely shifted, you often see shifts in search interest and user intent on individual queries.
If you aren’t monitoring this closely enough you will miss the opportunity to change your approach.
3. Build Up Your Content Bank
Consumer behavior is shifting, and this pandemic will only cause consumers to search and behave differently than before.
Like everyone else, you have the time, so get to writing.
Start by prioritizing top/mid-funnel content.
While this content might not convert in the short term, get consumers into the funnel to present your products/services for future needs.
By having a stockpile of great content ready to go and out there ahead of time will give you a leg-up on the competition.
4. Start Thinking About Holiday & Q4 Initiatives Now
We don’t know how long we will all be in this environment.
I’ve heard 2 more weeks and I’ve heard 12 more weeks.
Either way, we are still looking at several months beyond that before the economic outlook improves.
Knowing that Q1 and Q2 numbers might be lower than initially forecasted, start planning now for how you can make that up in the back half of the year.
5. Hire Top SEO Talent
The sad truth about COVID-19 is that businesses are closing their doors.
Top SEO talent who were loyal to their company may find themselves without a home.
If you’re hiring, start recruiting now.
It will go a long way to show that you are in a strong position, which will attract top talent.