As we start another week of social distancing and working from home, we can confidently declare that every industry has been touched, either positively and negatively, by the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that even more businesses are having to rethink their marketing and sales efforts, heavily relying on their online presence. While there are many strategies to counteract these changes, one of the most critical is search engine optimization (SEO).
The objective of SEO is to optimize content and pages of your website so it will be found by search engines. Although with the COVID-19 outbreak, it has sent regular SEO tactics out of the window. Results are always unpredictable with algorithm changes, but now it’s even harder to track, yet not impossible.
How COVID-19 is Shifting SEO
To get started, it is important to understand two main SEO areas that have reacted and changed due to COVID-19. These demonstrate that COVID-19 is not only changing how your business operates but is dominating search engines, which completely pivots the SEO world.
Google My Business
Google is greatly encouraging businesses to update their information on Google My Business (GMB). For example, new hours, locations, instructions on ordering and curbside pickup if you’re a restaurant, etc. should all be updated on your GMB. Customers are aware that day-to-day business operations are changing, therefore they are often searching businesses before visiting or using their services. Your information needs to be accurate on your GMB so that customers are aware if your hours have changed or if you are offering alternative services during this time. Google My Business is an important approach to maintain clear communication with your customers. Click here to learn more about updating your GMB.
Another item that has changed and is affecting SEO is search results. Since COVID-19, the number of queries about the Coronavirus has significantly increased. This in return, is dropping page rankings because the mass shift in searches is heightening the competition. The dominance of COVID-19 related results among SERPs is lowering the number of non-related searches thus pushing those pages further down in rankings.
SEO Strategy Right Now During COVID
In order for your business to effectively react to these dramatic changes, you need to develop and implement a COVID-19 based SEO strategy. Below we outline some SEO tools and techniques to get you started.
Tools and Audits
First, it is important to gauge how effective your current SEO is on your website by conducting an initial audit to identify areas that need improvement and areas that are performing well. To analyze your website’s SEO performance, you can start by using a free tool called Screaming Frog which identifies missed opportunities on your website, such as meta descriptions, lengths of h1’s and h2’s, and more. Another option for auditing is doing a manual crawl of your website. Third, is reaching out to a specialized agency to perform an in-depth analysis of your website and create personalized recommendations to improve your site’s overall SEO.
A majority of business owners often use Google Analytics for their site yet are unaware of the free tool, Google Search Console. This is another approach to analyzing the performance of your current SEO strategies and the impact on your different pages. If your website has a sitemap, you can submit it through the Search Console to help Google know what to crawl on your website. Search Console will also let you know what errors are discovered and mark what pages are showing up for certain keywords. Click here to get started.
Meta Content Updates
You need to ensure your website’s title tags, headings, alt attributes, and metas are all up to date, meet the standard criteria, and focus on the page’s subject. With so many changes happening to industries, companies, and products, staying current makes a difference on what potential viewers are clicking on. Therefore incorporating COVID-19 messaging as it relates to your business in your meta content will allow search engines to recognize the connection ranking for SERPs. To begin, update your meta description for an impactful and short-term approach to strengthen your overall meta content.
Look into Search Trends
Another free Google tool, and a widely used item right now during COVID-19, is Google Trends. For researching keywords and identifying trending search terms, Google Trends can help your business capitalize on COVID-19 issues as it relates to your company. Even outside of the pandemic there is a wide range of services, products, and activities being searched which can translate into content ideas for your site.
SEO Strategies for the Future
While it is critical to understand how to develop and adjust your SEO strategies to what is happening in the world, such as COVID-19, you still need to plan your strategies to benefit your company in the future, beyond the current pandemic. This surrounds the concept that you need to align your SEO tactics with the needs of your customers, not only for their current needs but their future needs. Developing your SEO strategies to bring value to your customers is the ultimate driver for continued search engine success.
SEO tactics are always changing because it relies on the everchanging algorithms of Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. When the algorithms change, your website needs to react and adapt to these developments in order to show up in SERPs. The SEO tactics from two years ago could very well be outdated, demonstrating the need for ongoing maintenance. Long-term SEO strategies will take more time and need nurturing, yet they tend to produce the most successful and established results.
Link Building External
Link building requires ongoing efforts to construct a network of quality links across other websites and platforms that direct back to your website. Creating backlinks is an ongoing effort that drives referral traffic and builds site authority with search engines. Even as algorithms change, backlinks remain an important factor for how search engines determine what sites rank for what keywords.
Link Building Internal and Navigation
Much like external backlinking to your website, internal linking is taking you from one page to another within your website. Internal linking is beneficial because:
- It helps drop bounce rates by giving visitors a direct link to another page that will continue them further into the site and closer to their goal (product, service, fulfilling a need), instead of leaving the site altogether.
- Internal links help Google and other search engines index and understand the pages of your website.
One of the more common and impactful technical SEO strategies is making your website faster. Google has said over the past few years that page speed is a clear and important ranking factor. Ideally, a page should not take longer than 3 seconds to load, and any longer than that it can hurt page rankings.
Another technical SEO item is robot.txt files. This is a very powerful tool, and if used incorrectly can prevent files and pages from being crawled. Robot files tell browsers what your site should look like and how it works.
Site schema is another in-depth and powerful SEO strategy. It involves implementing a special code that essentially talks to search engines and directly tells them what information they need to know to display on SERPs. To learn more about the schema, please click here.
For additional long-term SEO resources, please see the list below.
- Click here to learn how to optimize your content to coincide with the different result options displayed on Google SERPs
- Click here for a curated collection of blogs that describe ways to address and improve your websites SEO, including site security and imagery
- Click here to learn how the mobile screen has shifted how your website should be developed and its impact on SERP rankings
Contact Evolve Systems
There are so many individuals and companies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many lives, jobs, families, and businesses feeling the toll, it’s hard to focus on your customers, yet keeping your brand strong by using SEO allows your services to remain dependable and ease additional stress.
Our team of SEO experts are trained to lead and execute SEO strategies that are personal to your business for enhanced results. Fill out the form below to learn more.