You’ve invested in building a fast, responsive website, optimizing your meta titles and descriptions, obtaining valuable backlinks, and creating quality content that drives organic traffic. But now, amid a global crisis, there is a lot of uncertainty around the potential impacts of COVID-19. To help businesses and marketers alike understand how the coronavirus pandemic may affect their online presence, we’ve put together some guidance on maintaining an effective SEO strategy while we all weather the storm.
How COVID-19 is Affecting Search Traffic
With the rapidly developing Coronavirus outbreak on everybody’s minds, it’s no surprise that the pandemic is dominating much of today’s search traffic. This has many business owners and marketing managers wondering how COVID-19 is impacting SEO metrics, and it affects every industry differently. However, when it comes to SEO, there are three key points to keep in mind:
Search reflects human behavior.
With social distancing measures like shelter-in-place orders and government-mandated closings in effect across the country, human behavior has dramatically changed.
As a result, Search Engine Journal reports that e-commerce sites that sell essential products like hand sanitizer and toilet paper, for example, are seeing massive increases in search traffic, as new search queries like “toilet paper near me” and “hand sanitizer near me” are created. Even search traffic for nonessentials, such as office items for employees who are now working from home and workout equipment for those who no longer have access to a gym, has begun to surge.
This is no different than how seasonality can affect your search traffic throughout the year. Just as you might see an uptick in search volume for swimwear during the summer and a decrease in sweaters, the trends in search will change along with human behaviors.
Your competitors are equally affected.
As search volume fluctuates across many industries, it’s important to understand that your business isn’t solely affected. While search traffic for your products or services might have decreased, it’s also decreased for your competitors as well. Likewise, if search traffic has increased within your industry, your competitors are likely reaping the same rewards.
SEO is a long-term strategy.
Unlike paid search, the results of your SEO efforts aren’t always quickly realized. According to Maile Ohye, formerly of Google, it takes SEO companies four months to a year to see the results of their efforts. It’s important to keep in mind that SEO is a long-term strategy, and what you do now can help set your website up for future success in the search results.
SEO Tactics to Start Working on Right Now
SEO is constantly evolving, so it’s important to continue to optimize your website―even during the coronavirus pandemic―or you may risk falling behind in the search results. Here are five SEO tactics you can apply now.
Update your Google My Business page
The coronavirus is affecting the way many companies are able to conduct business. While you are already likely keeping your customers up to date via email and/or social media, remember to also update your Google My Business profile for local customers.
Whether you are operating on special hours or taking certain precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, be sure to update your hours and business description, share Google Posts with updates and special offers, and verify that your contact information is correct.
Conduct an SEO audit
When was the last time you audited your website? Use this time to evaluate your current SEO strategy. Consider conducting an SEO audit to identify and evaluate:
- Technical issues, such as missing meta descriptions or H1 tags
- Accessibility for the visually or hearing impaired
- Pages with low traffic or low click-thru rates
- Website responsiveness for mobile devices
- Site speed and page load time
- Directory listings to ensure contact information is correct
- Keyword analysis to uncover gaps in content
Understanding your search performance will help you form an action plan for SEO moving forward.
Clean up your website
Whether it’s the fact that it’s spring or that many of us are cooped up inside, spring cleaning seems to be top of mind. Along with auditing your website, consider some of the following:
- Tidy up your XML sitemap to make it easier for search engines to crawl your website. Consider removing noindex pages, redirected URLs, or pages with duplicate or thin content.
- Fix broken links. Ahrefs offers a free broken link checker to identify dead links.
- Enhance your user experience by focusing on accessibility, site speed, navigation, and user intent. A few tactics to consider include adding image alt text, compressing large media files, condensing blog tags and categories, and writing relevant meta descriptions.
- Spruce up low-performing pages by fleshing them out with more content and optimizing for relevant keywords and phrases.
Build up your content backlog
Creating fresh content can be a time-consuming, yet integral part of any SEO strategy that can sometimes fall by the wayside. Consider conducting interviews (over the phone or via video conferencing, of course) with your sales and customer support teams to hone your content strategy by identifying topics that answer the questions most commonly asked by your customers. This will set you up to draft well-written, highly optimized blog posts to build up your content backlog and bolster your content marketing efforts.
Acquiring backlinks from high-authority domains like .org and .edu sites as well as reputable news publications, blogs, and directories is another SEO tactic that often gets put on the back burner. Use this time to research opportunities, such as a listing or a guest blog post, where your company, products, or services could be featured. Then, implement an outreach plan to build valuable links back to your site.
Aztek understands the questions and concerns that many businesses are experiencing during this time of economic uncertainty, especially as it pertains to sales and marketing. Whether it’s simply providing guidance or implementing tactics like the ones described above, we’re here to help in whatever way we can. Contact us today for more information.