Adapting your SEO strategy to soften the impact of COVID-19 on organic traffic
Test and identify problem areas to better amplify your value proposition while staying relevant to the trends people are searching for.
It’s no longer news that coronavirus has upended the way we live our day-to-day lives. Unprecedented unemployment rates, emptied shelves where toilet paper and Lysol wipes used to sit, an innumerable amount of people working from home – this has become our new reality.
We know the ways it has impacted our lives personally, but how has consumer behavior and the way people search changed as a byproduct? What we’ve seen across our clients at 3Q Digital and within the industry is two-fold:
- Search behavior drastically changed as a result of the coronavirus, and it will continue to do so over the coming weeks and months with “at home” keyword modifiers seeing a material rise;
- Consumerism has also seen a large demand shift from desire-based purchases to people buying what they deem as essential for overall health and fitness.
As people are forced to stay home, how can you shift your SEO and content strategy to address your audience to maintain relevance?
Every site should have a page about COVID-19
This is especially important if your business is considered essential or is significantly impacted by COVD-19. Creating a dedicated page to capture all relevant coronavirus traffic can help sustain some traffic loss. You don’t have to update people on the ongoings of coronavirus but more so what your company is doing. For example, FootJoy created a COVID-19 page detailing how a portion of their sales will go towards relief efforts.
Even if that’s not the case for you, having a page on what you’re doing can help instill trust in the brand. If you’re a restaurant, what precautions are you and your team taking to ensure the health and safety of the foods you are making and delivering to consumers? If you sell a product, what increases in safety measures are you taking in production? For retail, if your stores are closed, informing people of those store closures and where they can purchase your product online instead, as Nike did, can also help improve sales.
And last, knowing that everyone is at home, what are some ways your product or service can help users navigate this pandemic?
Find new and emerging topics to create content around
As mentioned above, finding new and emerging topics will be essential in capturing traffic for new search demand. Having the right piece of content at the right time based on what people are searching for now could be the difference between someone coming to your site or going to a competitor. But how do you flesh out and determine a content strategy when the topics people are searching are rapidly shifting?
For creating content, Google Trends should be the first place you look to understand the changes in search behavior. Given that there has been a seismic shift in search demand and trends in the last 30 days, some other keyword research tools like Keyword Planner may not have the latest data as those tools look at monthly search volume. Trends, which collects data in real-time, will put you at the forefront of determining trending topics to leverage for content creation.
In order to identify emerging trends, you need to first think of your business and what keywords are essential to it. With that in mind, knowing that people are at home, think of modifiers to add to keywords. For example, if your platform is online learning, modifying that search query with “at home” creates a significant spike in demand.
Modifiers like “at home” and ”indoor,” are very popular right now, as are “homeschooling” and “unemployment.” Staying abreast of what’s going on can help with identifying relevant topics.
If you can’t think of a topic right away, the Google Trends homepage is a good place to see what people are searching for by region and what is currently trending.
Another great place to look is Exploding Topics. This platform aggregates data across search engines and conversations and mentions across the web to formulate emerging topics. They then curate that list into an easily digestible interface, which you can drill down by time period and industry.
Once you have identified your topic, you can then view it on Google Search to assess the intent behind the query and see what other pieces of content are showing up in the results. This will help determine if the content you are creating will fall into an informational, transactional, or navigational content type, which will inform how you should structure your messaging.
Work on conversions
Another important thing that you can do during this time is test, test, test. With the traffic you have, you can actively work on your site’s ability to convert traffic into customers. Even if your traffic has declined to the point where A/B testing or other conversion rate optimization testing tactics are not applicable, there are still some things you can do in the meantime.
First, identify what keywords people are using to find your site and what pages you are sending that traffic to. Looking in GA and GSC identify what pages have seen the largest declines and which ones have the highest bounce rates. Does the message on that page convey to the consumer the relevancy of your site? Are people bouncing off this page? If so, you may need to adjust your SEO keyword strategy or on-page copy to better align the intent in the search with the relevance to the page. If you have heatmap tracking set up, leveraging those insights can be helpful in identifying consumer behavior and potential user experience issues especially with your information architecture.
Secondly, identify friction points in the conversion process and work on improving them. Test the number of fields you are asking people to fill out and look to enhance the overall user experience to make it easier for your potential customers to convert.
Thirdly, amplify your value proposition. You may understand why someone should convert with you, but is that message conveyed to consumers? Look at your competitors’ messaging on-site and see why maybe someone would rather convert with them than you. How can you potentially improve and amplify your value prop over your competitors so that audiences feel like your product/service is better than the rest?
And lastly, something that may only be relevant during this time but could be instrumental in securing conversions is to test different copy and imagery. Be cognizant of the current state in your imagery; are people holding hands? Outside in a crowd? Perhaps look to test imagery of people at home and/or practicing social distancing.
The times have already changed. We are facing a new reality. Creating content based on the trends people are searching as they navigate this new reality will help lessen the potential negative impact to your organic traffic. Staying ahead of the curve on new and upcoming searches can help place you above the rest simply by staying relevant.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.