Google, which gathers information about our online behavior, knows more about us than we’d like to admit, but… historical data in recent days poorly illustrates our current preferences. COVID-19 has affected our mobility, habits, and shopping opportunities, which makes it imperative that our SEO strategy change.
SEO in times of pandemic – table of contents:
SEO in times of pandemic
Marketing budgets are being cut
Faced with an unprecedented lockdown, companies are struggling with major decisions on how to respond to the situation. Those that have to, are already cutting budgets, but most are wondering how to allocate resources (including non-financial ones) to minimize losses in the long run. Currently, 65% of marketers expect to cut budgets.
source: Impact of COVID-19 on Marketing Study
Marketing channels that require direct investment, such as PPC, have already seen a reduction in budget.
Increased interest in SEO
Google search ads lost 7% between January 13 and March 9, 2020, but SEO – as a long-term, grassroots effort that involves optimizing content and nurturing UX – is a whole different ballgame. According to Google Trends, the search term “SEO” and related terms have seen steady increases in interest in the United States since February 2020. This directly influences the state of SEO in times of pandemic.
source: Impact of COVID-19 on Marketing Study
Why the sudden popularity? Confined to their homers invariably rely on online content to find their way in a new situation. So you’re potentially losing out every time you don’t appear on the first page of results that Google throws up in response to “your” phrase.
It all depends on the industry
Current circumstances leave no illusions that COVID-19’s impact on organic traffic will vary from industry to industry.
Tourism is experiencing huge declines and optimizing SEO strategy is no remedy for that. Yes, you can benefit from it in the long run, but for now, it would be naive to think that it will change the situation dramatically.
However, if you operate in other industries, less sensitive to the politics of social distancing, things are already optimized. The media and financial industries are seeing increased interest, while e-commerce is at least mixed.
What’s the takeaway from this?
It’s still worth investing in content. It’s the most cost-effective and accessible way to survive today. It requires a small investment and pays off long after. However, given the current situation, the content may not be the same as it was just a few months ago.
The world after COVID-19
Consumers expect more
According to Forrester’s research, consumers feel divided, distrustful, and don’t believe that organizations will behave as they should. Still, they are looking for a way to fill the void with both entertainment and learning, because unfortunately they also feel they are slowly losing control.
According to the Conductor study, brands providing educational content are therefore more trustworthy than ever. Examples can be multiplied. “The Washington Post” – although closed behind a paywall daily – provides coronavirus-related content for free.
Mailchimp, which provides an email marketing platform, offers free accounts for organizations that provide public health information.
And Moz made all of its courses available for free.
Specialized, educational and credible content is key
Specialized and educational content is one of the primary ways to gain the trust of customers who are looking for a foothold during this difficult time. However, actions cannot be branded. Neither users nor Google, which updated its E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Credibility) guidelines in 2018, will fall for it.
The more credible your website is, the more likely it will appear high in search results. However, outdated or inadequate information can do more harm than good.
Things to remember
If you want to stand out with SEO in times of pandemic, there are some things you should remember.
Update structural data
Structured data helps Google understand what it “sees” on a website and tells it when to enable additional features and enhancements, such as Knowledge Graph or Rich Snippets. This helps Google display exactly what users expect.
If you’re an e-commerce company, update your product availability chart first and foremost so they don’t waste time searching for products you don’t have in stock.
Update your information in Google My Business
Let customers know how the current situation has affected your current business. If you’re running a traditional store, take into account changes in operating hours and – if you have the option – try to redirect them to another sales channel.
Watch for changes in Google Search Console
The information that Google Search Console aggregates show what is becoming most important to customers. And if you’re thinking about SEO in times of pandemic it should determine your responses soon.
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