Adapt your SEO Strategy to the Impact of CoVid-19 on Search Behaviour

Reading Time: 9 minutes
SEO Strategy to the Impact of CoVid-19
Reading Time: 9 minutes

We are in the 4th month of 2020, and coronavirus has impacted almost all aspects of life globally. The digital world continues to be dominated by news of the pandemic globally, and businesses the world over are facing unprecedented challenges.

 

The lockdowns, closures of international borders and work from home situations have also altered consumers search behaviours and as a result, impacted SEO and ecommerce marketing. The search for non-essential products and services has dipped as people get used to the ‘new normal’ of social distancing and isolating.

 

CoViD-19 is already impacting buyer behaviour

Businesses must brace themselves for a negative economic impact as buying behaviour changes in the foreseeable future. An increased number of consumers are going online for purchases, and the dependency on the internet is higher than ever before. The demand is mainly for essential services. Though a small percentage of industries are also booming in this crisis. Think teleconferencing companies like Hangouts and Zoom, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Disney, online pharmacies, etc.

 

Brick and mortar retail is on the decline. Consumers prefer the safety of buying online and hence ecommerce is on the rise. There is a switch from buying offline to buying online as people are spending time at home. The digital marketing industry faces a conundrum of slashing costs due to the economic climate but keeping up the marketing efforts.

 

We suggest you reallocate your digital marketing budgets and adopt a strategic inbound marketing approach.

 

impacting buyer behaviour

If businesses must stay afloat in these uncertain times, we recommend a hard look at your SEO strategies. SEO is cost-effective, compared to paid ads, and you will reap in some long-term benefits. Let’s explore how you can adapt your SEO strategy and give your business a fighting chance amidst this economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus.

 

We’ve outlined some SEO considerations as a larger part of your businesses response to CoVid-19.

 

SEO strategies during CoVid-19

Is your business essential or non-essential?

Businesses globally are closing down their physical stores based on essential or non-essential criteria laid down by governments. Determine the essential nature of your business. Update your website, your timings and let customers know what measures your organization is taking to ensure the safety of your staff and customers.

If your business falls in the non-essential bracket, you will be facing tougher challenges, but that doesn’t mean it is all over. An increasing number of consumers are searching online, and you want your brand to appear in their searches.

SEO is a cost-efficient long-term investment in the future of your business. There are few SEO related things you can do to keep your business afloat during this economic storm and beyond. We will be talking about these further in the article. You can also read Coronavirus: Tips to retain your business during this pandemic

Here is another article to help you stay connected with your customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Optimize your ecommerce SEO

Shoppers are spending more time online and preparing your business for this surge is not exploiting the situation. Consumers need to shop online now more than ever and you should factor this in your SEO strategy for ecommerce.

 

Some ecommerce SEO best practices:

 

  • Provide detailed product content

Product description, features and benefits are very important convincing factors to turn a shopper into a buyer. Your ecommerce product page should have the following –

 

  1. A relevant product title
  2. Price
  3. Important features and components
  4. The material of the product
  5. Care and maintenance instructions
  6. Information about the brand
  7. Size / dimensions / capacity/technical specification

 

  • Use high-resolution product images

Consumers form their first impression of your product based on the product image. Make sure it is well-lit and of good quality. Include several times from various angles. Unlike a retail store, online customer cannot touch and feel products, the buying decision is based heavily on the information they get from your product page.

 

  • Optimize product page permalink and structure 

Search engines crawl permalinks to understand the content of the page. Use permalinks that are self-explanatory to the crawler.

 

Example of a permalink for a product page is https://www.store.com/category-sub-category/product-name/

 

  • Use unique title tags for product pages

Online shoppers use unique phrases when they search for products online, incorporating these phrases in your title tags allows you to rank easily for these results. Ensure that the key phrase is used at the beginning of your title tag as search engines place more emphasis on the first key phrase.

 

Optimize your category pages too

Your category pages should be optimized to appear first in search results. Do not make the mistake of having your category pages and your individual pages competing for the same keywords. For example, if you have a category of ‘laptops’ do not optimize your product pages for the keyword ‘laptops’. Use as keyword planner and optimize the individual products for their specific brand and model and link them to the ‘laptops’ category page.

 

By doing this, your page category page will rank for ‘laptops’ and the individual product pages for specific search terms.

 

Here are more tips to market your store.

 

Manage your web presence

In August 2018, Google released a broad core algorithm update, which like all Google updates impacted the search landscape. It was another step by Google towards providing searchers with the best, most relevant and most trustworthy results.

 

Among the changes was a much stronger emphasis on E-A-T:

Expertise

Authority

Trustworthiness

 

Now more than ever is a good E-A-T score of utmost importance to rank well on search engine rankings. Update your pages and give accurate information.

 

Here are few tips to manage your digital reputation during CoVid-19

 

  • Update your Google My Business page

Are you still open for business? Have your business hours changed? Make sure your contact numbers are correct so that customers can contact you.

 

Keep your customers updated about your business operations and timings through your Google My Business page.

 

Create a specific Google Post on your response to CoVid-19.

 

  • Have a dedicated coronavirus page

If your business is considered essential or is heavily impacted by the pandemic, have a dedicated page to let your customers know how it has affected your business. Detail the exact precautionary measures your business is taking to keep your customers and your employees safe. If you have an ecommerce store emphasise on the ‘no-contact’ delivery options available.

 

  • Include cleaning instructions for products

Does your business sell products? Do you have an ecommerce store? If yes, including cleaning and caring instructions for your products on the product details page.

 

  • Update your FAQs page

Update the FAQs page to factor in changes in customer service, evaluate the language, and determine if new FAQs related to Coronavirus should be added.

 

Create content that builds trust

 

“It’s important to be reassuring right now and not trying to say to people, ‘rush into your car dealership for a sales event’.”

– Matt VanDykre, director of U.S. marketing for Ford Motor Co

 

According to this report by Forrester, earning trust is your metric for success during this time. Consumers are not ready to buy but are willing to ‘listen’ to new brands.

 

Create content that appeals to the emotional tenor of consumers. Ford has retracted all their ads, and their new campaign appeals to the emotions of people all over the world grappling with the uncertainties of the times.

 

A study by Conductor reveals that consumers find brands that put out educational content more trustworthy than brands that don’t.

 

The more trust you build with consumers now by putting their well-being over financial gains, the more likely that they will stay connected with your brand now and long after coronavirus has passed.

 

winning customers with educational content robert rose

Audit your upcoming content and campaigns

If you have a content calendar planned, it is a good time to review it so that it suits the emotional and becoming climate of the world right now. You do not want your content to be disconnected from and insensitive to the current situation.

 

KFC faced a huge backlash in the UK over their ‘finger-licking good’ campaign in mid-February. It was deemed irresponsible advertising when ‘face-touching- has been discouraged due to the coronavirus.

 

KFC wasn’t the only brand that faced criticism, Hershey’s too suspended their ‘handshakes and hugs’ ad as it just went against all the advisories to contain the virus.

 

“Sadly, we have decided to temporarily replace two of our ads that feature human interaction, that include hugging and handshakes, due to the current sensitivities surrounding the COVID-19 virus,” Hershey Co. chief marketing officer Jill Baskin said in a statement.

 

Review your upcoming content, tweak it to address the current situation and focus on adapting in the short-term to build long-term equity. Empathy and compassion will go a long way.

 

Create a content marketing plan

Creating content is not enough, it needs to reach the right audience to drive traffic to your ecommerce website. This is where content marketing comes into the picture.

 

Effective content marketing helps businesses increase brand awareness and improve lead generation. You probably know the demographics of your audience and your buyers, what you need to put some research into is ‘where do your potential customers ‘hang out’ online?’, ie what is their online behaviour.

 

Find answers to the following questions:

 

1. What is their go-to social media platform?

The demographics of your audience will most likely influence their preferred social media platform. Knowing whether they prefer Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok or Snapchat will allow you to create content for the platform that matters the most.

 

2. What content do they like?

Once you know the preferred platform study their interactions on it and notice the kind of content they respond to. Some may like infographics, some long-form articles. Some may like more visual content like videos.

 

Speaking of videos, YouTube’s is a great platform to use for video marketing and generate sales. It has the lowest bounce rate after a click-through to your site and also accounts for the majority of mobile web traffic!

 

3. What are their pain points?

Discovering the pain points of your audience is valuable to your content marketing strategy. You can create great content addressing these pain points and finding solutions. It is an effective way to create SEO friendly content and drive organic traffic to your website or ecommerce store.

 

Ramp up cyber-security

A majority of the global workforce is working from home right now, students are learning via online classes and with everyone staying at home the dependency on the internet for work, shopping, news or entertainment is high.

 

Hackers are taking advantage of the pandemic and using malicious malware to promote discounts and deals online to get sensitive data.

 

Here are a few things you can do to keep your website secure

 

  • Secure your site with SSL

Noticed that some website URLs start with http:// while some with https://? The extra ‘s’ simply means that the site is secure and any sensitive data that you share, like your credit card details, is safe and encrypted.

 

The technology that ensures this is called SSL – Secure Sockets Layer. SSL is now a part of Google’s search ranking algorithm according to Google Webmaster Trends Analysts Zineb Ait Bahajji.

 

  • Implement SSO

Every time a user logs in to an application, it is an opportunity for hackers. SSO or ‘Single Sign-On’ reduces’ the number of attacks as it authorizes users to use one set of credentials to access several applications. It improves security and reduces IT costs.

 

  • Monitor log files for crawl errors

Log-file analysis helps you understand how crawlers are accessing your website. You can carry out a complete log-file analysis as your long-term SEO goal, but in the interim, any abnormalities can reveal if spambots are trying to infiltrate your site.

 

  • Update plugins or apps you use

Regularly update the plug-ins and apps you use as hackers are on the look-out for outdated plug-ins which have vulnerabilities.

 

Cybersecurity is not only about HTTPS. A hacker can negatively impact your sites SEO, take preventative measures ASAP!

 

Long- term SEO strategy

Once you have it all up to mark for the next few months, prepare for long-term SEO considerations. Cash-flow problems will affect your marketing budgets but if you can invest in SEO you should amp up your efforts.

 

Some long-term SEO considerations that you must undertake irrespective of the pandemic:

 

  • Technical SEO of ecommerce store
  • Link building
  • Regular keyword, topic, and LSI keyword optimization
  • Content audits, pruning, and cropping
  • Pillar pages and content
  • Site audits and error management
  • Strategic internal linking and navigation

Consumer spending is likely to reduce for the next several months, but businesses should think about long-term gains and optimize their brands’ visibility well before periods of increased consumer spending after the pandemic is over.

 

SEO is a long-term investment. Leverage this nature of SEO and optimize your site for future high-volume, high-competition keywords. We understand that mastering SEO can be hard, but there are ample tools available. Search Console by Google, Ahrefs and SEMRush are some of the best SEO tools according to us.

 

The takeaway

 

There is no doubt that there will be a big shift in consumer behaviour for the next year. Currently, CoVid’s immediate impact is on social interaction and thus on businesses. As users adjust to this new normal of staying at home, ecommerce spending will increase. It is a smart move to get your business ready for this new era of ecommerce, and SEO is a low-cost yet sure-fire way to do that.

 

In saying all this, remember that this is a worrisome and confusing time for many. So DON’t play on peoples fear. Do not sensationalize content for clicks. Put out content which you think will really help people and please verify the authenticity of any figures, remedies or information you put out there. This is not a time for marketing gimmicks and scaremongering.

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