The Case for SEO During COVID-19

COVID-19 is impacting consumer behavior, which is impacting search behavior. Some industries have gone up and some industries have gone down. Internet usage is setting records. According to Statista, 27% of Americans say they have deliberately purchased hygiene products online rather than offline because of the crisis, and 31% have done so with restaurant delivery and takeaway, 26% for clothing, and even 26% for household cleaning products. Once millions of people have moved more online, how many will go back?

We think very few. People who had been resistant, such as seniors, have been forced to change and once people do, they rarely go back. For example, Traffic to retail e-commerce sites has gone up. Why? As Search Engine Journal details, 1 in 3 consumers say COVID-19 changed their behaviour, including 47.2% of American internet users who are now avoiding shopping centers and malls, and 74.6% who say that if the outbreak worsens they’ll avoid shopping malls all together. During these last few months, we’ve seen stores closing all around us. We’re not saying that the shopping mall is dead, just like radio, stores will carry on, but in a limited way. So whether you’re in retail or not, COVID-19 is impacting the way people behave and will do so in the future. So what’s a marketer to do? Focus on SEO.

Great Content Builds Trust in Your Brand

To have effective SEO, you need to have great content. The days that used to be spent browsing outside in the real world, will now be spent browsing online. Google loves long form content. It’s the first factor in the Search Engine Land SEO Periodic Table because if you have great and credible content, great SEO will follow (of course, we suggest you read our blog post Great SEO Titles and Descriptions for Better SERP Slugs to help ensure great SEO will follow).

If you haven’t already, you should review the content you’ve already produced to ensure your marketing doesn’t come across as negative or tone-deaf in light of the COVID-19 crisis. According to a study done by Mintel, 73% of consumers are influenced by a company’s charitable giving when deciding to make a purchase.

How you respond to the COVID-19 crisis can impact how people view your brand now and in the future. Great content has a long shelf life and can build trust in your brand. Brands that recognize what is happening in the world will likely carry on. Responding, authentically, and without exploiting the crisis is key. Learn more about how to do that in my Linkedin article Novel Dilemmas Demand Novel Responses by Digital Marketers

SEO Increases Qualified Traffic

By its very nature, SEO delivers more qualified traffic. Marketing is as much about repelling the wrong audience as it is about attracting the right one and if your content is good, you should be attracting the right audience. SEO helps stay in front of the right audience. If there’s a salesperson involved in the purchase of your product or service, most people do as much research as possible before contacting your company and having to deal with him or her. SEO, of course, helps them find this information. In the midst of a crisis, unless you’re selling bicycles or hand sanitizer, it’s going to be harder to find business and make a sale, and great SEO makes sure your prospects are informed and more qualified before they get to you.

Cost-Effective SEO Creates Leads

I may be stating the obvious, but in a time of crisis, a lot of firms cut their marketing budgets, which we, of course, along with the rest of the marketing industry, think is the wrong move. And there’s great historical data from previous crisis and downturns that support staying in market. The pandemic may change the marketing and sales cycle for your industry, and it is scary to spend marketing dollars amidst so much uncertainty, but it’s also the best way to learn how your market is changing. If you’re finding that’s a difficult argument to make with the boss, let us know and we’ll share some sources that will help. Incidentally, that’s where SEO can be an easier sell too as it is one of the most cost-effective digital channels, especially if your content is developed in-house.

Here’s some more blog posts, we thought you’d like to read:
Great SEO Titles and Descriptions for Better SERP Slugs
Improve SEO and PPC with Google Star Ratings
I Actioned SEO and SEM, so Why Haven’t Conversions Grown