The name on everyone’s mind right now is COVID-19. As this new pandemic sweeps across the globe, devastating many countries, businesses, and livelihoods, marketers are scrambling to adjust their SEO strategies to account for the unprecedented damage to their businesses. From panic buying to layoffs, the Caronavirus has had varying impacts across all industries.
As more users stay home and avoid public places there is a shift in online behaviour. Search data reveals that the changes in consumer mobility and social media consumption habits since the start of the outbreak have had a significant impact on search interest trends and organic performance.
What the statistics are saying
With the initial behavioural shifts and stay-at-home limitations, COVID-19 has had a mixed impact on organic performance across retail clients. The latest trends show that most industries, both organic traffic and conversions are down. Retail sites like grocery stores and pharmacies that carry essential goods have experienced positive organic traffic growth, while retail sites that carry non-essential items like clothing stores have experienced organic traffic declines. While essential eCommerce stores, news sites and health and wellness information are in popular demand, even the financial sector, which had big traffic booms in traffic, dropped in conversions.
It’s no surprise that the travel industry has been hit the hardest with travel bans and restrictions all over the world, and many other company’s bottom line is being directly and instantly impacted by the lack of consumers visiting brick-and-mortar stores.
The long-term effects
Marketers are fast shifting their focus to longer-term goals as they prepare for a post-COVID economy. Unfortunately, the necessary and extreme measures implemented at this time will disrupt operations for quite an extended time, with the threat of long-lasting impact.
Even if the virus slows down exponentially, businesses are losing traffic and conversions and therefore income and profit, meaning they will have to make up for their losses. The S&P 500 Index shows that on average, every time the market goes down by 20% or more it takes roughly 536 days to recover, and right now – we don’t even know when the effects of COVID-19 will come to a halt.
Businesses are scrambling to find ways to make money online by offering products or services they may not have previously offered. This inadvertently creates extreme rankings volatility as website and algorithm updates change the fundamentals of how their sites work. With this, businesses are looking at new avenues, diversifying their services or products to adapt to the current COVID-19 crisis. Due to new products and services pages, new content will be needed and this content will need to be optimised to be found on Google, Bing or Safari.
SEO in the Age of COVID-19
This global pandemic has caused thousands of industries to reevaluate their priorities, prompting businesses and search engines to adapt as well. Sessions and impressions may decrease, but SEO can help ease the impact on your business by ensuring that rankings are maintained.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Marketing (SEM) can produce sales and leads for your business even while you find yourself in self-quarantine or lockdown. People are searching and spending time online more than they ever have before and this is an opportunity to implement strategies and efforts that invest in SEO.
How Web SEO can help you and yours
Even though consumers seem to have adapted their lifestyle habits, for now, we could be looking at long-term changes inhabits. For this reason, it’s imperative to keep up-to-date with shifts in browsing habits in order to best position yourself through this time of uncertainty. With both short- and long-term SEO considerations.
Even if you are a non-essential business right now, there is always content to be added to your website that is currently relevant. For example, as a restaurant owner, you could post an article about homemade meal recipes because this is a popular current trend thanks to enforced lockdowns. This will lead traffic to your website and in the long run increase brand awareness. SEO ties into all aspects of your marketing and can contribute greatly to increasing traffic, getting your brand out there.
To factor in the impact of COVID-19, brands should be closely monitoring Google Trends, Google Search Console, and other keyword tools to understand shifts in search interest and behaviour around relevant keywords and topics for your brand and industry during this time.
We’ll conduct research on new, altered buyer behaviour to give you insight into which markets are a need currently and which you can possibly tap into. We will generate leads by ensuring that your target keywords are redefined by asking the vital questions:
- Are you targeting the same type of leads that you had before?
- What platforms are most prevalent right now?
- How will you convert your leads into long-term customers that will still be there after the pandemic?
- How can you adapt your services and products to best fit the needs of a new audience?
Even if you halt on most of your marketing, SEO can still continue as it can be managed through content and SEO audits directly on your website. This way you can up content, remove outdated pages, fix broken links or even get your Google My Business up and running. Support your loyal customers through information relating to COVID-19 or how to make things easier during this time.
With SEO efforts implemented properly, there still is a chance to minimise the damage of these unforeseen effects. Keep calm, proactive and help carry your audience through what’s a volatile time until things get back to normal again. You may not see the biggest return right away, but stick with us, and as the economy recovers, you will see your revenue climb and the ROI from your marketing spend go through the roof.