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COVID-19 and Its Implications On Your SEO Strategy

By Pradeep
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COVID-19 and Its Implications On Your SEO Strategy

Introduction

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is rapidly redefining business models and changing consumer behaviour. As the disease continued to spread, countries announced several measures to contain the virus, by closing schools, shops, public spaces and point of entries.

These containment measures are causing dramatic changes across several business sectors and the lifestyle of individuals.

With citizens encouraged to stay at home, they end up spending more time online than before. This puts brands with an online presence in a better position to weather the storm compared to brands who do not.

However, various businesses are taking several measures to cushion the economic impact by announcing spending cuts across departments- including marketing.

However, with government-issued lockdowns which have seen a reduction in foot traffic, companies are now investing and channelling more of their resources into digital marketing.

The primary aim is to capture the interest of consumers who are self-isolating at home and turning to the Internet for certain products and services.

The impact of COVID-19 on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 outbreak has affected virtually every business sector. It also seems to be causing variation in digital marketing trends. While some search engine optimization experts have noticed a drop in their organic search traffic, others have reported higher rankings along with a surge in organic search traffic.

What are the implications of COVID-19 on your current SEO strategy?

The measures put in place to contain the COVID-19 outbreak only permits the continuous operations of essential services. And during this time of crisis, search engines are going to focus on presenting to users authentic and credible content centred around global health information.

This also means a potential surge in organic traffic and SEO performance for businesses with services related to nutrition, fitness, health and wellness.

The Implications of COVID-19 on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy

1. A shift in dynamics

It is important for you to first understand all the possible impact COVID-19 is most likely to have particularly on your brand and respective industry. With all the relevant metrics, and data on hand, you can then recompose and improve your message to fit the around entire situation.

The impact of COVID-19 on your SEO efforts will depend on a large extent to the steps you have taken to improve your search engine rankings.

In other words, you will have to restructure and fine-tune your pre-covid-19 keyword list, content type, and message.

Modifying your content strategy for SEO and aligning it with the current situation can place your brand in a position to still thrive and succeed.

How to respond

Below are the top ways COVID-19 appears to be affecting SEO performance across several industries and suggestions on how you or your search engine optimization experts can respond.

2. A surge in E-commerce websites selling essential items

The rapid spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has made countries take several measures to encourage social distancing and self-isolation.

With alarming details about the disease, a huge number of consumers have avoided going to shopping centers or malls in general.

This could translate to an increase in the use of e-commerce websites by a large number of people.

As more people embrace online shopping for items related to grocery and health, it has led to a surge in the organic traffic and impressions of e-commerce websites.

The huge search demand for certain products and its shortages have even created new search queries.

On the other hand, there has been a drop in the search traffic and impressions of non-essentials.

When gyms and fitness centers started to close, web users soon turned to the web for at-home fitness options.

Around this same time when various governments started encouraging citizens to work from home, search queries for “at home office ideas” and “at home office” spiked.

How to respond

The health crisis has caused a high demand for a variety of essential items people need to deal with the pandemic.

A smart idea would be for you to create different pages for those products with a ton of interest from web users.

Be sure to highlight and make this page or pages easy to find on your e-commerce platform. Also, optimise it properly and track its performance regularly to ensure that it reflects current user search intent.

3. A surge in health and wellness websites

Of course, this increase in organic visibility has been reported by websites verified to have adequate expertise on the subject topic.

This is because websites that provide services, products or information that can impact a searchers health or wellbeing
falls under Google’s- “Your money, Your life” (YMYL) category and are thus held to greater standards of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EAT).

It is part of Google’s effort to clamp down on misleading or inaccurate information that can affect the health and wellbeing of searchers.

On this note, there has been a noticeable increase in organic search visibility for information from sources like the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO).

In addition, there has been an increase in search queries related to antiviral herbs and foods.

How to respond

If you own a website centred on health and wellness, work towards increasing your expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EAT) on the subject topic. By doing so, your website is in a better position for higher rankings on search engine result pages.

4. Recipe websites are rising in demand

So far, some recipe websites seem to be getting a slight uptick in their organic search performance, although not as intense as retailers in essential items or health websites. The simple reason for this is because more people are cooking at home, as opposed to buying take-outs or eating out due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
If the COVID-19 spread continues and there is an extension of the lockdown- then, we expect to see a significant improvement in the impressions and traffic of recipe websites.

How to respond

If you run a recipe website, be sure to follow Google’s recipe structured guidelines to improve the ranking of your recipes on Google search results and Images.

You should also focus on publishing recipes that require few ingredients, and ingredients that a searcher can easily find.

Adapting your SEO strategy to current & critical shifts in web user search behaviours.

The needs of consumers, and their search behaviour therein, are expected to change dramatically in response to businesses classified as “essential” or “non-essential”

Brands with an online presence catering for food and health (considered as “essential”) will likely see an increase in search queries for the products and services they offer.

On the other hand, brands that offer products and services considered as “non-essential” may experience a significant reduction in search interest and web traffic as the priority of consumers changes rapidly during this health crisis.

At this time, your focus should be on revising and adopting a new SEO strategy that factors in the impact of COVID-19.

A smart approach would be to research relevant keywords web users are using this time. This allows you to understand the rapid changes in users search interest and behaviours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

— Create a Dedicated Coronavirus (COVID-19) Page for your customers and web visitors

If your brand provides essential products or services, consider creating a specific page that contains relevant information on the steps you are taking to keep your customers safe during the outbreak. On this page, you can also link to other key areas of your website web visitors might be interested in checking out.

— Create Video & YouTube Content

With people expected to spend more time at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak and most probably using streaming services, there is going to be a massive demand for video. You should consider creating videos and interactive content centred around your brand, that are relevant and offer value to web visitors. There are a couple of premium SEO tools you can use to obtain topics or ideas for the type of video content to create.

— Incorporate Social Distancing And Isolation Into Your Message

As a brand providing “essential” services or products, you are most likely to receive a steady influx of traffic. On this note, it is important to spread the word on the need for customers to “stay safe”. Ensure that you factor in the need for social distancing, isolation and other safe practices against the virus into your content. Every single information you use on the outbreak should be obtained from authentic and verified sources.

Conclusion

The economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting virtually every business and enterprise. These uncertain times have also led to a gradual shift in consumer preferences and web user search patterns.

Any measure you take to cushion the effect on your brand would require the conduct of adequate research to obtain valuable data on web user behavior under the present circumstances. Marketers are responding by making cuts to traditional marketing mediums and channeling resources to online advertisements due to the potential for greater visibility.

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