May 2020

Tips for Adapting Your SEO to the Impact of COVID-19

By: Matt Goodwin, Manager, Web & Digital Marketing Services, id29

The unprecedented events of COVID-19 have completely reshaped the world as we know it and, as a result, our own behaviors have dramatically changed because of it. Since search is a representation of our own behavior and intent, there has also been a dramatic change in our search behavior and media consumption habits.

In response, Google has been making frequent updates to its PageRank and algorithm to change how some information is served, which has also caused some volatility and fluctuations among rankings.

Understanding how the SEO of your business is being impacted and having a sound strategy in place can help soften the blow of of any negative effects and set you up for long term success. Here are 5 tasks you should be doing now to stay ahead of the curve.

1. Understand how your SEO has been impacted, specifically

First, check out your Google Search Console metrics to see if organic traffic to your website has increased or decreased since the beginning of the pandemic. Next, take a closer look at impressions and position. If your impressions have fallen, but your position has remained relatively consistent, then it is likely that the search volume for your brand/industry has gone down. 

Next, head to Google Trends. Type in terms and topics related to your industry and determine whether the overall search volume for your industry as a whole shows a similar trend to what you were seeing in your Google Search Console data.

In addition, you can use this tool to help identify new questions or topics that people are looking for in relation to your industry and tailor your content, accordingly.

2. Ensure you have a page about COVID-19

While this is extremely important for essential businesses or businesses that were significantly impacted by the coronavirus, all businesses should have a page dedicated to COVID-19. Currently, one of the first thoughts on someone’s mind when looking to buy products or services is likely, “How has COVID-19 impacted this business?” 

Have your hours changed? 
Are you shifting your focus? 
Are you offering benefits for those who may need it?

Having this page will not only capture any specific search results that users may be typing when looking for this information, but also will help to satisfy your website visitors intent, allowing them to shop or gather information with more confidence and trust.

3. Audit your content and marketing plan and adjust as necessary

Search behaviors have changed. The questions people are asking and the information people are looking for is very different than it was just a month ago. If you’ve already built up a content bank, take this time to look through it to ensure it is mindful of the times and empathetic where it needs to be.
SEO efforts to weather this storm are beyond just the technical elements. A mindful content plan to bring a voice to the customer will go a long way.

4. Keep your web presence properly managed

Managing your online presence is especially important during these times. Trust is not only an important ranking factor for Google. The more users can trust your brand, the more likely they are to engage with you.

Old or inaccurate information has the potential to confuse and frustrate your audience. 

Some ways to manage your online presence during COVID-19 include:

  • Updating your Google My Business page. Let your customers or prospects know about any changes to your business’ operations like hours and events by keeping this information up to date. Try using posts to add additional information that’s not able to be captured in the general information fields.

  • Updating your schema markup. Things are changing rapidly. With cancellations of events and changes in product availability (for e-commerce businesses), updating items like your product or event schema ensures that Google is showing accurate and up-to-date information about your company and that users only see the latest information. 

  • Monitoring search demand and social media mentions. Monitor topics that are relevant to your business to understand what people are saying. Specifically, use the data to better understand the intent, tone, demographic and sentiment of your customers.If you anticipate specific COVID-19 related questions, make sure you monitor mentions of these items as well.

5. Use the data to your advantage

With everyone at home, there will be a lot more search data to work with. According to Forbes, internet use is up 70% since the mark of the global pandemic. Continue to monitor Google Trends and your own Google Search Console analytics, as this traffic will indicate how and where demand for your products and services have shifted. Sharp spikes or drops in traffic to specific pages can help you indicate which content and information your customers are finding to be most important. Shifting your efforts to support these changes will allow you to keep your customers satisfied.

While this traffic may not turn into sales, or even leads, an increase in searches and people to your website can still offer some great insights such as:

  • Which pages are generating the most traffic
  • Has this changed from the norm?

Now is the time to consider running a survey, heat map, or other data collection methods and really do a deep dive into your website and your customers.

With all these shifts, there is an opportunity for businesses to focus on SEO and content to ramp up their impact, creating content that builds their brand long term. More and more businesses  have already begun making shifts in their strategies and investing more in SEO. According to Google Trends, SEO-related searches have spiked significantly since January.

Have specific questions about SEO or marketing your business during this time? We’re happy to help you build a strategy to not only soften any impact COVID-19 may have had on your business, but provide you with sustainable, long-term growth. Send us a message here.

About id29

id29 is a brand strategy, design, web and marketing communications studio with big smarts, big chops and big experience. We are a team that truly cares about—and positively impacts—the success of people, companies and organizations who make the important decision to partner with us. We’re a full-service agency who has had the privilege of working for clients such as PUMA, Cobra Golf, SI Group, Bestpass, Sterling Rope and Scholastic (most notably creating and executing the national campaign for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). To learn more, visit id29.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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