The novel coronavirus has had a tremendous impact on how customers engage with businesses and how organizations have adapted to interacting with consumers while still bringing in buyers. To help answer the questions our community has been asking about the importance of SEO and digital marketing, we put together a series of topics that benefit a wide range of industries and explored solutions for each.
What is the importance of SEO today?
We know that many of you are wondering if SEO is still worth the effort. The simple answer is, yes. If you have wondered about the importance of SEO during this period of transition, there are a few vital things you need to know.
Changes in Search Trends
First, know that trending searches have changes. Through BrightEdge Instant, we’ve found that certain keyword search volumes have skyrocketed over the last few weeks. More searches are geared toward making people feel comfortable at home, whether it’s making homemade sourdough, doing at home workouts, or staying connected with friends through video games, online poker, or virtual hangouts. Find a way to promote what your business has to offer consumers from the comfort of their own home and optimize your site accordingly.
Adobe, recently found that customers have begun to purchase over-the-counter medicines, food, and antiviral protection equipment online in far greater numbers. Our research through BrightEdge Data Cube and Instant corroborates these findings, and also shows that users are interested in “grocery delivery”, “medicine for a cough”, and “work from home jobs”. Below you can see Instant results that show people are looking, specifically, for remote jobs or jobs at companies that are still open during the pandemic including Amazon.
Connecting with users online is more important now, and will continue to be important in the coming months, than ever before. With the rise in online traffic over the last few weeks, we expect your SEO efforts now will pay off down the road. Push content that speaks directly to the needs and concerns of customers and optimize pages in order to be more competitive with an increasingly diverse online marketplace.
Where should I begin with SEO during this pandemic?
Begin by building a campaign, but before you start optimizing, it’s important to understand the buying and browsing behavior of your audience during this period to build a plan of action.
Depending upon your industry, you may find that your target customers have substantially less buying power or interest than they normally would. For example, the travel industry has been hit hard, seeing a 17 percent drop compared to last year and a 20 percent drop from the original 2020 forecasts. Businesses trying to survive in industries that have been similarly impacted by the pandemic and social distancing measures will want to look carefully at the behavior of their customers online.
- Are people planning for the future?
- Create content to help them daydream about returning to normalcy in the months to come.
- Are customers interested in your top-of-funnel content but do not have buying power right now?
- Maybe you target small businesses that might not have much purchasing power right now. You might see an increase in traffic for your top-of-funnel content without a corresponding increase in mid and bottom-funnel conversions. Use this opportunity to nuture these potential future customers. Coordinate a drip campaign to keep them engaged via email or offer a discount code for a future conversion.
- Do you offer help to customers interested in distracting themselves from the stress?
- Update your content to reflect the current situation and highlight the benefits of products that provide an escape.
Study how customers engage with your site and the type of content they're reading by looking at your site analytics.
If you’re a BrightEdge customer, look into leveraging BrightEdge Instant to explore real-time recommendations and results of what consumers are searching for. You can use the feature to spot trends in searched keywords and choose the best ones for your audience.
You can then use this insight to create a robust content calendar that will guide you through the next few weeks. Choose keywords with growth opportunity and high search volumes that match your trending topics. Remember that SEO and digital marketing will remain important cornerstones of your business’s success during and following this period of social distancing, so your calendar should accurately reflect what your customers want to see.
What can I do after I've dealt with the basics?
Now that you have a plan and a content calendar with the most relevant topics for your site and audience, you should continue to employ SEO best practices that you already know are impactful to your site. Optimize key pages for featured snippet opportunities, including Quick Answer and People Also Ask results, these results are known to steal traffic from first position results.
By deploying this SEO strategy now, you can work to increase and protect your positions on the SERP from being taken over by competitors. You can utilize the Share of Voice feature in BrightEdge to identify competitors and ways to outrank them. This is an opportune time for all brands to step up their SEO game so understanding the importance of SEO is vital to your opportunities.
What if customers aren't buying right now?
Unfortunately, many businesses are struggling with a decrease in sales. As brick and mortar businesses close their physical stores, they’re shifting to rely on e-commerce like never before. As the US unemployment rate rises, many customers do not have the same budget and buying power they did even a few weeks ago.
Now is a good time to focus on projects that you couldn’t get done with your typical weekly tasks. Manage website updates, dive into technical SEO projects, and explore other complicated tasks that may be on your rainy day list. Use Keyword Reporting and Page Reporting to track how each project will impact your rankings.
We also recommend utilizing ContentIQ to gain an understanding of the health of your website. While site audits can be time consuming and require several team members, slower business means more time to fix your site. Prioritize your site errors from most impactful to least impactful for search engines and get to fixing those technical issues.
Now is also an excellent time for running tests. Conduct A/B or multivariate tests to optimize your conversion rate, improve user experience, or test landing page designs. Use this time to create a website that will be fully prepared to maximize conversions when customers return to more typical browsing and buying patterns.
Keep in mind that all areas will not experience the pandemic equally. As restrictions begin to ease and some forms of normalcy return, your customers may experience vast differences in buying power based on the cities or states where they live. Instant makes it easy to narrow down your searches, allowing you to capture audience attention based on their precise location.
Analytics can provide you with valuable information about the location of different site visitors, enabling you to track how customers in different regions browse your content and engage with your products and services. Remember, BrightEdge can integrate data with multiple analytics platforms; such as Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, and even Coremetrics. You can integrate analytics data with BrightEdge dashboards, providing you with an intricate understanding of how customers engage during and following the social distancing regulations.
What if I have events scheduled during social distancing?
The decision to begin social distancing and close businesses came quickly and without much warning. While there is still no definitive date on re-opening businesses, you do have options other than canceling your events including postponing or shifting your event to a virtual experience. In addition to informing your attendees through social media and email marketing, use the new SpecialAnnouncement schema markup to make the latest updates regarding your events known to search engines.
What should my B2C SEO strategy include?
If you are in the B2C sector, don’t forget the importance of SEO on your customer acquisition efforts. There are steps you can take to specifically build a strong digital presence for your target customers.
To begin, we recommend taking this opportunity to build out your product and category pages. Make sure that each page has original, relevant content that helps you target customers based on their search terms and interests. Regardless of whether you are in an industry experiencing a surge in online buying, or if your sales have dipped as your consumer base deals with job loss, creating well-thought-out pages can position you well for future sales.
As members of our B2C community work to connect with consumers and sell their products, we do recommend that they remain upfront with customers about any limitations they might have regarding shipping or product availability. Keeping this transparency with customers helps to create a sense of togetherness and trustworthiness.
What should I do if my data looks unusual to me?
Many brands have also noticed that the data coming in from their site looks more unique than it has before as consumer browsing and buying behaviors have changed. For example, beauty product suppliers like Sephora may notice a drop in many makeup sales, as people are wearing less makeup while they remain at home. On the other hand, they may also notice an uptick in the interest and sales of skincare products, such as face masks, serums, or eye creams.
If you notice shifts in behavior on your site, pivot your marketing campaigns to align with your consumer movements. Use the information you gather to adapt to search and buying changes. If customers are coming to your site but leaving before buying, use this time to nurture relationships that will serve your business well for the future.
How can I know what my competitors are doing?
Part of building a strong content strategy is to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. You do not want to lose valuable real estate on the SERPs during this period of change.
We recommend regularly monitoring what your competitors are posting on social media and how customers respond. Run Competitive Analysis through the BrightEdge Data Cube to understand where keyword gaps lie and how their content performs compared to yours.
Also, monitor their positions on the SERPs so that you can quickly see if they begin to gain ground on important keywords and how you can protect your own rankings. The better you understand their performance and strategy, the easier it will be for you to capitalize on areas of weakness, build a strong digital presence for your own organization, and ensure that you are well-positioned to excel when your customers return to their former buying patterns.
How do I create content my customers want to read or share?
To create material that customers will want to read or share, keep these central ideas in mind.
- Customers are at home, which increases their need for products and services that either benefit them in a home environment or are at least accessible at home. This also means there is a greater emphasis on home delivery options.
- Customers want to be entertained. It’s been reported that usage of phones and tablets, game consoles, and television have all increased.
- Customers want to have hope for the future. Focus your content development strategies on positive, future-focused material that helps your readers look towards the future and what they will be able to do as the social distancing rules phase out.
Whether you’re business thrives in written or video content, put the consumers needs first. This is no time to fail at letting people know you care about them and are with them.
The novel coronavirus and the social changes it has caused has resulted in a number of adjustments for businesses. Those that want to thrive will need to embrace new strategies and properly engage with SEO and marketing.