Businesses in almost every industry and of every size have had their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts affected by the pandemic. Initially, some essential businesses saw a surge when everyone tried to stockpile toilet paper and disinfectant wipes. Then, people looked for ways to have fun while at home and might even have ventured to search for a cheap flight in hopes of taking a long overdue vacation. When search queries are inconsistent and seem to change based on everyone’s particular mood regarding the pandemic, it’s hard to know how you should focus your SEO efforts. We’ve broken down some of our top strategies so none of your SEO efforts go to waste.
Update Your Google My Business Listing
With people staying close to home, searches ending in ‘near me’ have seen a huge uptick. If you haven’t paid attention to your Google My Business (GMB) listing since setting it up, we urge you to do so now. Principally make sure you verify your store hours. When Google serves your prospective customer a list of stores in the area that match their search, they also list the hours. If your information is up to date, great! Google will show your hours of operation. If not, Google might let the searcher know that the pandemic may have affected those hours – resulting in a lack of information for your potential client. This was more prevalent in the spring when most states were under lockdown. However, with fears of an increase in Covid-19 cases in the fall and winter, it’s worth revisiting this scenario.
Another thing you can add to your GMB listing? Curbside pickup and delivery. You can list these attributes on your business profile. You’ll need to select a category for your business in order to do this. If some attributes are unavailable for your business, you can add them to your business name or in the about section for the time being.
People want things to be easy and convenient—something that hasn’t changed during the pandemic. Don’t forget: searchers won’t go out of their way to research your curbside pickup options or to doublecheck your hours of operation—they’ll go to your competitor instead.
Ranking for COVID Keywords
It’s tempting to focus your efforts on ranking for keywords and phrases related to Covid-19. If you want to rank for some of these trending phrases, focus on specific long-tail search phrases related to your business. Short-tail phrases, which are usually 3 words or less, will have much more competition. The broader the phrase you’re trying to rank for, the more competition you will encounter.
Instead, look at which pages on your website have gotten the most traffic lately, and see if you can capitalize on that. Let’s say you own a craft store, and you’ve noticed an increase in the number of people looking at crochet supplies on your website. Your customers may be looking for crafts to do at home because of the pandemic. Emphasize this corner of the market where you have more potential to be a top competitor – know your place and place well.
Can’t Rank for Covid-19 Keywords? Try Looking at What Else is Trending
Not everyone can rank for keywords or phrases directly related to Covid-19. If your business hasn’t seen success in those keywords, look at how people have responded to the pandemic. People are searching for things in line with their new, pandemic behaviors.
Some examples: People celebrate birthdays with drive-by events. Since everyone is at home, homeowners are noticing all of the home improvement projects they want to get done. If they can’t call a professional, they might consider going a DIY route. Virtual meetings and get-togethers are still going strong. Temperatures are dropping, and people may be looking for in-home or indoor alternatives to activities such as exercise.
It may require some creativity on the part of your business, but you may be able to rank for one of the search subjects listed above.
User Intent Makes a Big Difference
Understandably, searches revolving around Covid-19 have seen an enormous increase in the past few months. People turn to Google asking about symptoms, which masks offer the best protection against the coronavirus, and location-specific queries about the cases in their area. Google has anticipated what information is most relevant to searchers by determining a searcher’s intent. While in January, people might have been curious about what the coronavirus was, now Google recognizes that people are more interested in news updates about how the virus is affecting their community.
It’s important to find out how someone’s search intent is affecting traffic to your website. Do an audit of your site and try to determine how people are coming to your website and which pages they spend time on. This may help you understand what intent your website visitors have and how you can set yourself up to meet it.
Focus on the Long Term
It’s hard to imagine a time when the pandemic won’t be important, but someday we will get there. All of these keywords are simply trends. Remember to balance some of your long term goals with your short term ones. If you can’t think of a pandemic related theme to focus on for new content, focus on your evergreen content. Do you have content that is performing well? Consider updating it and republishing it. You can also continue working on your non-pandemic keyword strategy. It may seem like everyone is focused on the pandemic, but people do search for things unrelated to the pandemic.