Nearly every business and every domain are globally impacted due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. This event has really shaken the industry and put a pause on a lot of exciting marketing and optimization strategies that businesses had in their roadmap.
During these times, not only the user behavior has changed, but the way users interact with search engines has also changed.
A lot of websites that relied heavily on online traffic are struggling to define their strategy that can still work during these times, while a larger group is also initiating their thoughts on whether to continue their effort online considering the pandemic restrictions imposed on the deliverability of products and services.
This guide from Merkle Sokrati is an essential read for all the businesses today. Based on the data from multi-client analysis, below are some of the ways why and how industries can still use their SEO strategies to drive relevant organic traffic.
CONSTANTLY REVIEW GOOGLE TRENDS & CONSOLE DATA
One great way is to make sure that you are reviewing data from Google Search Console and Google trends to identify new and rising trends that relate to your business. You will be surprised how your content can still be relevant to the audience, even though you are unable to sell your products.
It is highly recommended that businesses should leverage industry insights data and tweak their content strategy to build and optimize what users are now searching for.
USERS MIGHT NOT BE SEARCHING BUT CRAWLERS ARE STILL CRAWLING
A few businesses might be thinking to temporarily shut down the website, or redirect all the traffic to a holding page. By doing this, businesses might simply lose out on all the hard work that has been put so far to create a significant organic presence. Thus, this is not a good idea to shut down the whole site.
There is an SEO friendly way to handle inventory by working correctly with HTTP status codes. If done correctly, sites can still continue to pass on same authoritative signals to search engines so that once everything is up and running, you don’t start from scratch.
It is very important to note that though the traffic is reduced on your site due to lesser users searching, the ranking has not been impacted.
Also, crawlers are still crawling your site at the same speed. So, irregular maintenance will slower the crawl and impact rankings when you decide to re-operate.
Alternatively, while businesses are unable to sell their products, there are always ways to find a correlation between what users are searching and what businesses are selling.
Another great way to engage customers is to create FAQ page answering questions such as: why are you not delivering products, what will happen to products already ordered, is there a refund or return process, etc.
THIS IS THE RIGHT TIME TO PICK UP YOUR DEVELOPMENT BACKLOGS
Businesses that were delaying technical performance improvement of their sites to avoid the potential traffic loss, this is exactly the time to do those changes. A lot of our clients have approached us to evaluate the technical health and identify opportunities to improve development elements, such as:
- Mobile Friendliness: Google will switch 100% of the sites to a single indexing crawler. This is the right time to evaluate and fix all the Desktop and Mobile parity gaps.
- Site migration: Business considering a domain, folder or HTTP migration are now considering to actually do that owing to lesser site traffic and available server bandwidth
- UX / UI changes: This is exactly the time to revamp the site and integrate all the features that you wanted to do. Once everything is back to normal, your customers will enjoy a rich web experience.
- Speed: This is also the right time to conduct a speed assessment and improve the site latency without having to worry about the impact of testing.
- Structured data: Structured data, once implemented correctly, can significantly boost organic visibility and traffic. Since the implementation requires a lot of time, this might just be it!
IDENTIFY BETTER WAYS TO WIN THROUGH PPC + SEO
It obviously does not make sense to completely stop bidding on keywords without backing it up with additional data sets. Getting your PPC and SEO team to work together currently is perhaps the best thing to do.
Below are some of the great ways to leverage SEO with your PPC strategy, to ensure that it’s a win-win situation:
- Review SERP and competitor Ads: You are not alone in this! Your competitors might also have stopped bidding on certain keywords. Watch-out for those keywords and it could still be a great opportunity to continue securing the PPC share for those keywords.
- Find out low hanging fruits: Now that most of your competitors have also reduced their bidding spends, there will be a lot of keywords where you are organically on Page 1 with a thin gap between you and the competitor. You can continue to bid for those keywords (and still secure the top of the page share), while also optimize for those keywords and take the benefit of their reduced efforts on paid. Soon, you will see yourself getting ahead of your competition that will give you some extra traffic even once their Ads start to run again.
SEO TAKES TIME, THIS IS THAT TIME! AND IT WILL ALL BE BACK TO NORMAL AGAIN
Finally, remember we said – SEO takes time. Well, time is all we have now. Any effort invested now will definitely benefit in a long run. It’s a simple logic – if you wanted to rank for a set of keywords but were unable to do so as your competitor had a better strategy, now you might end up ranking for it. While you continue to optimize your content and still keep it relevant, you can enjoy much improved ranking once everything is back up and running, and it surely will!