None would doubt that the new coronavirus pandemic has brought severe disruptions globally in nearly all facets of life for all people across the globe. As the crisis and its negative effects seem to be here to stay for the foreseeable, citizens all over the world are making drastic changes to their lives in an attempt to adapt and adjust to what is now considered the new “normal” way of life. These changes to habits and behaviours result in a great economic impact, mostly negative, for all businesses that need to also adjust and adapt to the newfound challenges.
Having repeatedly outlined the importance of SEO for businesses and also having discussed the usefulness of forward planning when it comes to a company’s SEO strategies, we hereby point out that the COVID-19 crisis compels all businesses to revisit their SEO strategies for 2020 and revise their implementation roadmaps, both in the short term as well as in the longer term as this crucial in helping them shape an effective response to the impact of the pandemic.
Below we shall briefly discuss both the immediate and short-term SEO considerations stemming from the pandemic, as well as offer an initial overview of what lies ahead in terms of SEO planning, in an effort to help businesses to best cope with the situation by acting, reacting and proacting effectively and wisely.
The obvious first step, for any business in this crisis, is to abide by the guidance issued by authorities, i.e. continue operations if the business is deemed as essential or suspend them if non-essential, to encourage social distancing. This mostly applied to businesses with physical locations, as businesses who do not require actual physical contact can adjust and continue to operate. Therefore, your first action should decide if you are still in operation or not and effectively communicate this to customers by immediately updating your information on your website, social media accounts, Google My Business profile and any other digital venue at your disposal.
Another essential first step, that will significantly help you plan ahead is researching and obtaining information on how the pandemic is actually affecting the search behaviours of consumers and clients, in order to be able to adapt to such shifts which are both immediate and significant. In practice this entails the close monitoring of tools such as Google Trends and Google Search Console and other keyword tools, in order to discern the changes in search interest and search behaviours on topic and keywords specifically relevant to your brand and the industry you operate in.
Moreover, you also need to monitor carefully the performance of your website to have a clear picture as to the conversion numbers and rates in order to make the necessary adjustments to both your reporting and forecasting.
Naturally, the marked changes in consumer behaviours as well as the significant economic impact of the pandemic, which cannot as yet be accurately predicted and calculated, will affect the budgets of businesses for the coming several months. In turn, this means that businesses will be called to adjust their short-term and long-term marketing strategies, as well as the allocation of funds into the different marketing channels. What is important to keep in mind when conducting such an evaluation is that, contrary to paid marketing methods, SEO is an endeavour of a more long-term, organic nature and cannot offer an immediate shift of priorities in an instantly visible manner. This should be taken into account when deciding the balance to be followed between paid and organic efforts in the upcoming period.
As a final thought regarding the immediate and short-term period, businesses also need to factor in the change in consumer spending, which is now mostly directed towards essential goods and services. In practice this means that many consumers are likely to shift away from actively converting and receding back to the awareness and consideration stages of their buyer journey. Therefore, and in order to have a greater impact and influence on future conversions, your short-term SEO efforts should actively focus on the development and production of high quality, appealing, useful and informative content as this will greatly reinforce and enhance your brand’s expertise, authority and trustworthiness not only in the eyes of consumers but giving the right signals to search engines as well.
As regards longer term SEO considerations for the final quarter of 2020 and beyond, it is prudent that businesses begin actively working and directing their efforts from now, to be ready and well prepared for when the global economic outlook gradually begins to improve. Against the backdrop of expected reduced consumer spending and in order to be able to at least partly make up for short term losses currently experienced, businesses should proceed to execute all their planned SEO strategies and necessary optimisations well ahead of time, to help better attain their future goals and be better equipped to effectively compete in upcoming high volume periods.
As the COVID-19 pandemic mainly impacts physical store locations and disrupts supply chains, now more than ever the digital transformation of businesses becomes a dire necessity. All types of businesses must re-evaluate how they reach out to customers, not only during social distancing periods but also beyond that. The wise move would then be to turn the current crisis into an opportunity and expedite the digital transformation process to ensure long-term business health, since this way will ensure not only adapting to future trends but also future proofing for other potential emergencies and crises to come. Explore and pursue all options to make as many of your products and services available online and in digital form and also seek to replace in-person contacts with teleconferencing.
Having overviewed the basic short and long term SEO considerations stemming from the pandemic, let us now explore certain practical ways in which businesses should revisit and adapt their specific SEO efforts. The first such area would be to adapt their content strategies to cater for the “new normal” imposed by the pandemic. Such adaptations may include the creation of a dedicated coronavirus page to capture all relevant traffic and effectively direct it to links on the main website. Another suggestion would be to create more video content and upload it on YouTube and other streaming services, as viewing is increased during this period and informative videos are very effective in terms of conversion. Another useful action would be to appropriately update the FAQ sections on a business’ website to reflect current conditions, or even include specific Coronavirus related FAQs if necessary.
Be careful to review and adapt the language used in your messages and factor in the isolation and social distancing conditions that currently prevail. Also, consider adding topics that are more useful during isolation periods, such as diy or self-learning topics and items. Finally, when creating new content make sure you keep track and take into account changes in search engine algorithms and their impact of SERPs and the organic results obtained and ensure the constant monitoring of performance to make the necessary adjustments.
The pandemic is also bound to affect the technical side of SEO and website development as development resources may suffer from limited availability and limited bandwidth. Against this backdrop, priority should be given to fixing bugs that will improve performance, rather than launching new features. At the same time, ensure that you closely monitor how your website is crawled, indexed and ranked by search engines to promptly address any issues that may arise.
Though the current outlook may be gloom, businesses are advised to remain active and not give up, but rather to increase their efforts, be they in the field of SEO or otherwise and better position themselves to be able to endure the crisis period and be ready to bounce back. Our team is here to offer advice and help to all interested businesses. Moreover, we are ready to guide businesses which might be looking for new opportunities or fields to differentiate or expand their operations. One such field that we feel is particularly resilient and holds great potential, added to the fact that it can function completely online, is the field of online forex brokerages, through white label or turnkey services that limit entry barriers to the market. Read our dedicated post on the set up a forex brokerage post COVID period here and do not hesitate to contact us for further guidance.