The disruptive influence of the global COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses everywhere to reevaluate their strategies to stay relevant, be discovered, and communicate with their current and prospective customers. As marketing teams rethink budgets and emerging strategy, there is no better time than now to invest in SEO.
Just like training for and running a marathon, SEO operates on longer timelines and produces sustained results that often persist long after its initial activities. While more gradual, there are specific actions you can take now to maximize your existing engagement and drive better performance.
- Update local listings, location pages details, and add FAQs to reflect changes.Hour changes, closures, and the addition of alternative service options such as curbside delivery and pickup are crucial to engaging customers.
If your locations are currently closed, or some services temporarily suspended, provide that information and links to help customers do business with you online. You may also directly communicate your updates on Google via Google My Business Posts.
- Prominently feature home delivery and curbside pickup in your content if you offer these as options because there has been an unprecedented surge in demand.It will give your customers one more reason to choose you.
- Prominently feature “how-to” information in your content. Since March 8, search interest in the topic of “How-to” has increased exponentially andhas been riding an all-time high.
Make sure you provide enough guidance to create value for the reader while unobtrusively promoting the value of your products and/or services.
- Ensure new content pages are optimized with SEO insights. Include your SEO team as early as possible in the planning stages of new launches. SEO insights can be derived from user behavior to identify gaps in content and target keywords for use throughout on-page optimizations. For example, data from Google Trends can help inform how your potential customers are currently searching for your offerings vs. how internal teams might be talking about them.
- Supplement your content with video to increase engagement and time on-page. Witheveryone basically staying home, media consumption has increased. We are seeing increased engagement with video—both on YouTube and embedded on-site. Consider updating existing content or plan for future content to include embedded video. The use of video schema may also increase the chances of your content serving in Rich Snippets.
- Leverage new schema markup where it makes sense. Specific schema markup is now available to designate your location as a COVID-19 testing site as well as to mark up canceled events.
- Request reviews with care. Google My Business(GMB) has temporarily stopped publishing new reviews. GMB also removed the ability for businesses to view and respond to new reviews – although some SEOs have seen this ability return in the wild. If able, use alternative methods to generate reviews that can be displayed on your own web pages for now.
- Prepare for the longterm. In addition to developing and updating on a regular basis a dedicated COVID-19 landing page to inform customers about what your organization is doing, there is opportunity to use a hub and spoke content strategy approach to the pandemic to scale more detailed information based on the intent of the visitor — and show Google just how thoroughly you are addressing the situation with detailed FAQs. To help better visualize:
While this pandemic has been disruptive throughout the world, by strategically planting the seeds now, SEO will yield better outcomes down the road for all brands.
Contributors: Scott Walldren & the 360i SEO team