With the unfortunate spread of Covid-19, people around the world are grappling with issues related to healthcare, childcare, unemployment and more. According to Worldometer, cases in the US continue to rise, see the chart below for details. Working from home, social distancing and shopping online have changed the ways that consumers interact with brands and with other people.
We don’t know how long this will continue, but we do know there will be sharp implications on the US economy and business. Thus, marketing has been and will continue to be impacted greatly by the spread of Covid-19. The way that companies address their customers and handle the changing market will have a lasting impact on how their brands are viewed into the future. In these challenging and unprecedented times, I prefer to consider the African proverb: “However long the night, the dawn will break”.
That said, let us take a closer look at digital marketing, and specifically SEO, during the era of Covid-19. As with any market downturn, businesses must try and stay in front of the volatility. Marketers may be forced to cut budgets, freeze campaigns, and even lay off team members or agency partners. Thus, this is a crucial time for creativity and inventive ideas for marketers. Here are 5 innovative ways to think about SEO in the time of Covid-19.
- Be fearful when others are greedy, be greedy when others are fearful. As the great investor and business leader Warren Buffet once said, in cases of extreme market volatility, we can often find opportunities. This is true not only with the stock market, but with SEO as well. During this business downturn, many companies will adjust or even kill their SEO and PPC budgets, making room for smaller players and potentially lowering costs. Larger organizations may not respond fast enough, running old and irrelevant text ads and risk irritating or even offending their customers. This creates an opportunity to seize the moment by running relevant PPC text ads and increasing focus on SEO as a marketing tactic.
- Utilize free tools to enhance your strategy. Tools like Google Trends and UberSuggest offer real-time search data which can assist with your SEO and PPC strategy while also providing interesting tools that could be effective on your owned web properties. A recent glimpse at Google Trends reveals an interesting but logical spike in searches for face masks and how to make them. Somewhat surprisingly, searches for hand washing and social distancing remain relatively flat.This type of chart or data set is easily embedded in another site or app by using the upper right icons to embed or share. Including relevant and timely data or charts demonstrates that your company is aware of and concerned with current events that are affecting people all over the world.
- Using Google and Bing to highlight Covid-19 announcements. Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content; for example, on a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on. Search engines will use structured data to understand the content within each page of a website. Search engines also use structured data to enable special search result features and enhancements, like images and videos. For example, a recipe page with valid structured data could appear in an image result as well as a search result.In the time of covid-19, many companies are publishing important updates and announcements that can affect the lives of people around the world. In response, Google and Bing are making it easier to find these on search engines. Google introduced a way to submit special announcements using structured date or search console submissions. Bing is similarly using structured data for special announcements. Businesses can also easily update their hours, add new services, or post announcements, using Google My Business Help Center.
- Emphasize the FAQ Section of your website — or create one. A quick search on Google for “FAQ Covid-19” returned over 9 billion search results, with the Center for Disease control showing up in position 1. Notice that the CDC is marking up the FAQ’s with structured data resulting in rich results. Specifically, in their search result below, the most relevant frequently asked questions are showing within the search result on Google.
Other rich results can include images, videos and carousels. Following Google’s guideline for using structured data to markup FAQ pages, thus providing rich results on search results pages. In order to test your webpages to see if rich results are possible, check out this free tool.
- Switch up your content. Most companies will need to think about their content in new ways. As marketers, we should be doing this regularly but during a pandemic, it becomes especially imperative to reevaluate the content marketing strategy, which has a direct effect on SEO. When thinking about content, consider various formats. Although blog posts are great for SEO, we also need to think creatively. Many people are working from home and attending Zoom meetings and video conferences. Perhaps, webinars are a good content tool for the future. For maximum SEO benefit, a best practice is to transcribe the webinar which also provides benefits for those unable to attend.Another idea is to repurpose slide decks, audio / podcasts and videos in similar ways. People will appreciate different ways to interact with your brand such as checklists, social posts and helpful updates. Most importantly, in times of great uncertainty, the more relevant and timely information shared with our customers, the better. Try to be creative and imaginative when it comes to content but first and foremost, be honest, transparent and thorough. This will benefit all of your constituents, from employees to partners to customers, while also improving your SEO strategy at the same time.
Wishing everyone the best during this difficult time.