COVID-19 has upset the SEO applecart and that it is putting it mildly.
When businesses are at a standstill or painfully crawling along you can expect the ax to fall first on SEO unless you, as an SEO expert, offer convincing reasons and a strong COVID-19 aligned SEO strategy to convince customers to keep at it. Here are a few tips on building COVID influenced SEO strategies for your clients’ success.
1. The keyword shift
SEO relies on the time-honored practice of using keyword research. However, Coronavirus brought in a keyword shift. Since January 2020 and right through March 2020 it is a Coronavirus keyword that spikes at 38 million and stays at the top of the charts. The takeaway for SEO strategy is to wrap all content and strategies around this crucial keyword. Give it a humane twist. Link it with business. Associate it with the brand. COVID-19 must figure in SEO, especially content. The focus is on seeding content that comes across as being authoritative, expert and trustworthy. Trust is the most important factor considering that 81% of customers, according to an Edelman Brand Trust Report, say that they must be able to trust a brand.
That alone is not sufficient. SEO experts need to focus equally on the analysis of trends and tools to know changed behavior patterns and changed conversions to craft relevant content. Everything is skewed and you may have to rethink and recraft your SEO strategies.
2. Essential and non-essential
Coronavirus has brought cash crunch in its wake and divided supplies and services into two categories: essential and non-essential. Essential businesses can carry on with physical operations. Non-essentials find themselves confined to the sterile online world. It is natural to expect that buyers everywhere will focus on the essentials for the short term. The tricky SEO part is to create a strategy that gives an essential slant to your business. This would include making changes to profiles, websites and online accounts.
Travel, transportation, software, technology, real estate, insurance, manufacturing, eCommerce, advertising and agriculture see a downward trend ranging from 5% to 50% in traffic online. Conversions show a similar trend. The strong performers are Media, pharma, food, finance, and energy that see an increase in traffic from 5% to 30%. There is a clear message for SEO companies and their clients who fall in the negative segment to redouble SEO and digital marketing efforts keeping in mind the long term benefits.
People are not going to buy non-essentials any time soon due to a severely damaged economy. However, SEO is long term so keep up the activity of maintaining presence and building traffic to be ready when people will spend even on non-essentials. It is vital to be visible. One may tone down paid searches now but you cannot do away with it altogether without risk of affecting rankings. Google reports 7% of the decline in search ads between January and March 2020. Still, consider that 1 out of 3 people in the US have changed shopping behaviour and over 47.2% of internet users avoid local stores and try to find products online.
4. Corona relevant activities
Coronavirus hogs headlines. It pays to take advantage by incorporating it into SEO activities. Even if your website has nothing to do with pharma, essential services, food or products required by people it pays to add a fresh Coronavirus dedicated page. That page will help you feature in searches and stay visible. You could add helpful information on hygiene, health and some corona related DIY tips that people visiting your site will appreciate.
Focus more on customer services. Know what they expect and provide all necessary information through FAQ as well as by being available through online chat or phone. A Conductor study shows that 48% of customers are likely to buy from a brand if that brand promotes educational and informational content, particularly on everything related to Coronavirus.
If you have a Google My Business page then update it to reflect working hours and newly introduced policies.
5. Irrelevant but relevant
Knowing what people are looking for online and what they are doing in these Coronavirus times can be tough. Happily, you have trends to show you what people are searching for.
- For instance, people now search more for recipes they can try out. So, even if you manufacture machines, you could update your website and social media pages to include content on cooking during corona times.
- Health and wellness is a hot topic. Add a couple of pages to see traffic coming your way, even if it has no likelihood of conversion.
- Where to find what: People are all over the web looking for things that can include hand sanitizers to certain food items. It does require an effort but you could put together a page to help people find things they need right now.
6. Why redouble SEO efforts?
The economy is on a slide and will suffer a loss of 2.7 trillion dollars. Recession is possibly around the corner. Debt has exploded to over $ 75 trillion and many businesses are likely to fold. This means less competition for those who can weather the Corona storm. This is one more reason to keep at it and focus on organic SEO. Organic pays off in the long run and you are in for the long haul.
Corona occupies the stage, center, left and right. Government sites, WHO and corona sites grab attention. Even authoritative sites like Medical News Today and WebMD have dipped down the rankings. This reinforces the recommendation to create corona related content on your site and offsite content too.
To sum it up, craft SEO strategies that are organic, designed for the long term and more people-centric. Wellness Mama site improved rankings simply because they offered more content on health, nutrition, and fitness during these Corona times. It is important to stay visible and SEO strategies need to be focused on these rather than on conversions. They will come with time when the situation improves.