4 SEO Strategies to adopt as COVID-19 Restrictions Ease

Posted By on June 14th, 2020 in Search Engine Optimisation

As the global economy comes to grip with the economic ramifications of COVID-19, many businesses have ceased in operating their physical operations. In times like this, SEO is more crucial than ever. This post takes a look at 4 core strategies and practices aimed, particularly, at small to medium businesses to help benefit from COVID-19 search trends and behaviours as restrictions around the world begin to ease.

Impact of COVID-19 on Search Traffic

The impact of COVID-19 on search traffic has varied from industry to industry. Certain industries which may be deemed essential have seen search traffic skyrocket whereas non-essential industries have seen significant falls in the traffic to their site. The role of SEO, therefore, also varies amongst these two stakeholders.

As COVID-19 restrictions are easing across countries, a coherent SEO strategy is crucial to helping your business recover from any loss in traffic and set yourself apart from your competitors.

1. Local SEO is now Crucial

For small businesses, especially, local SEO needs to form a core part of your SEO strategy. Even though restrictions are easing, users and potential leads are less likely to travel long distances; it is, therefore, important to optimise for Local SEO. Moreover, as businesses’ opening hours fluctuate with restrictions and a significant amount of businesses remain closed, local SEO would help optimise your page for ‘open now’ and ‘near me’ searches. This is particularly crucial, in terms of targeting featured snippets and generating highly qualified leads.

A significant part of local SEO revolves around your Google My Business listing. As restrictions ease, it is important to capitalise on potential leads around you. Ensure that your GMB listing has your latest opening hours and that all the details regarding your business are accurate and up to date. The image below highlights the GMB knowledge graph for Bruce Clay MENA.

The functionality of Google My Business profiles has evolved to such an extent that it needs to become a central part of your SEO strategy. It would help target searches across Google Home voice search, Google Maps app and browser search and Google Assistant search. These profiles now include Posts, ‘Q&As’ and allows users to leave reviews where applicable. We would, therefore, recommend using this time as restrictions ease to use Google My Business listings and profiles to its fullest potential. 

As searches move to a more local perspective, it would be beneficial to include local keywords throughout your wider side content as well as your title tags and meta description. If you were a sports goods store, for example, located in Dubai, it would benefit your strategy to include terms such as ‘sports goods store in dubai’, ‘sporting goods store dubai’ ‘sporting equipment in dubai’ in your content and on-page optimisation.

2. Build Trust through Content

As difficult COVID-19 has been on businesses, it has also impacted consumer search and purchase patterns. Mckinsey highlights that consumers’ primary concerns revolve around their health and safety. A significant amount of consumers will be willing to try new businesses as they may be more convenient options in terms of distance, price and health and safety.

We would recommend creating content which understands consumer sentiment. If you own a restaurant or a hairdressing salon, you can create content to underline updated information regarding the safety measures taken to abide by COVID-19 guidelines. As consumers begin to venture out following the easing of the regulations, they are more likely to visit businesses where their primary need for health and safety has been met firmly. Creating content to show how businesses have adapted their practice to COVID-19 creates a level of intimacy between the consumers and businesses, it would be extremely beneficial to share this content across social media channels to benefit from a wider audience. 

In terms of content, our core recommendation would be to use content to underline a message of security and safety for your consumers. Studies have shown that users are more likely to make a purchase from a business should they find answers to their questions, in times like this where the primary concern is health and wellbeing alongside hygiene, content can provide a great means to develop this connection with your audience.

3. Update your use of Schema Markup

Google has announced a wide range of structured data COVID-19 announcements as well as amends to existing Schema markup such as event schema that are applicable to potential changes to business operations. We highly recommended making use of the COVID-19 announcements should it relate to your business. These announcements may include:

  • Notices of closure
  • Cancellation or rescheduling of events
  • Events moving from physical events or offline
  • Guidelines for operations during quarantine restrictions
  • Travel restrictions
  • Revised hours of operation and occupancy limitations

It is widely accepted that the use of structured data is a means to improve how Google crawls your site and increases the chances for your business to rank as a featured snippet.   

Earlier in the year, we published an article on the benefits of using event schema. Owing to COVID-19, events globally have been cancelled or rescheduled; Google has announced an EventStatus property enabling websites to update their existing event schema with any cancellation or rescheduling notices.

4. Audit your SEO strategy for the future

The role of SEO has taken on larger importance following the COVID-19 pandemic. As businesses reduce their reliance on PPC, organic search becomes more important in generating high-quality leads. 

In many cases, businesses would have developed an SEO content strategy which would include campaigns that are no longer appropriate as businesses start easing back to work. It is crucial to audit your upcoming content and strategies in order to adapt to consumer search patterns following the pandemic. SEO is often considered a combination of technical, off-page and on-page SEO. Currently, there is a larger need to focus more on the adaptability of on-page content. 

We highly recommend reviewing any campaigns and content in the pipeline to amend any content where necessary, for example, a hotel company may have planned a summer fun adventure campaign to target families for their summer holidays. In the current climate, this would be better suited at focussing the hygiene and wellbeing benefits of holidaying with them rather than the adventure aspect. It is pivotal that firm’s thoroughly audit their SEO strategy to ensure that it is appropriate in the current climate.

Summary

As stated earlier, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only how businesses operate but what consumers look for in businesses. As restrictions ease, there is great opportunity to generate leads as consumers could be forced into changing their consumption patterns owing to both convenience and quality. In times like this, SEO needs to form a crucial part of your overall marketing strategy with a particular focus on local SEO and well-researched appropriate content

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