Adapt Your SEO Approach and Content Marketing Strategy
Consumer trust in governments and large brands has been on the decline for some time now, not just after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. A recent report by McKinsey & Company shows how COVID-19 is and will continue to affect consumer behavior, stating that, “Consumers across countries will remain hesitant to return to international travel, large public gatherings, and trips to the mall once the effects of COVID-19 decrease. Across most countries, consumers say they will increase online shopping. Overall, consumers intend to continue some of the digital and low-touch activities they have adopted during the pandemic.”
With continuing lockdown and physical distancing measures in place, most people are more likely to trust the recommendations of friends and family, while also feeling more inclined to support local businesses. Whether you are a local, national, or international business, you need to re-establish customer trust through a strong, credible, and customer-centric brand presence.
While digital marketing and its cornerstones of SEO and content marketing are still your best chance, your approach and your messaging may need to change suitably in the current scenario.To do this, it’s important to recognize that a contact-free economy is here to stay.
- During and post COVID-19, we will continue to see an increase in online inquiries and purchases for both goods and services.
- Consumers are adapting quickly to the new normal and in some cases, prefer the shift.
- Consumers still expect their needs to be met by their favourite businesses and brands.
Never has digital marketing become more necessary or relevant to consumers. Customers are increasingly shifting their buying activity towards online options, and brands need to be present if they expect to survive. Is your digital presence optimized for profitability and growth in this next normal?
As businesses work to remain top of mind with their customers throughout this pandemic, maintaining a strong digital presence through SEO and content marketing could be one of the most important steps you take. If you are a brick and mortar business, you may be slowly re-opening amid strong physical distancing restrictions that limit your ability to generate higher sales volumes. How long can you keep the lights on if revenues don’t bounce back?
Why Should Your Brand Care About SEO During and After COVID-19?
If your business has survived on traditional marketing in the pre-COVID-19 era, that’s miraculous. No kidding, but it’s time to make a change! So, for those of you who are not familiar, we’ll take a moment to explain…
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your online content (i.e.: web pages, videos, blogs) so that a search engine (Google or Bing) wants to show your webpages at the top of the SERP(search engine results page) for searches of a certain keyword or key phrase.
So, why is SEO critical for your business right now?
Here’s some food for thought:
- According to Google Trends, the search term “SEO” and related SEO search terms have seen a spike in recent weeks.
- People are searching online more than they ever have before.
- SEO-focused content is the most cost-effective and direct path to maintaining your business during economic downtimes.
Foreseeing the Future of Search Now & Post COVID-19
Here are the most significant trends we notice:
- Ecommerce sites selling essentials are up in traffic.
- Health & Wellness sites are exploding.
- Travel websites are all over the place.
- Publisher websites are in high demand.
- Restaurants and retail are having to pivot.
- Volatility is present in almost all websites.
- Traditional business leads are slowing down.
What Can Smart Business Owners Do Now?
Monitor consumer patterns and behaviors: It’s crucial to monitor customer conversations to have a clear understanding of how their habits are evolving, how their interactions with your brand are shifting, and where your brand can meet their changing needs. Looking at your analytics data is so important right now. Use the data to make smart decisions. Also look at your competitor. Follow them. Now might be a good time to invest in a competitive business analysis to see how your competition is pivoting and selling.Ask questions! Use social surveys, email marketing surveys etc.… and get the information you need. Your local WSI consultant in the Ottawa area can help you craft a plan.
Strive for expertise, authoritativeness, and trust (E.A.T): Google doesn’t want to serve up links to pages that share uneducated advice, opinions, or potentially fraudulent information or websites. To rank well on Google, you need to nurture your brand by building its expertise, authority, and trustworthiness — which is exactly what E-A-T stands for!
- Show Expertise: This begins with keyword research and understanding the searchers’ intent behind the keywords you discover. Don’t forget your brands. Brands that are searched for by name often own top positions for keywords. Find out what questions your customers are asking that are relevant to their needs now and craft content that answers those questions.
- Show Authority: Still a fundamental, backlinks from High Authority sites shows Google you’re producing original and compelling content.
- Show Trust: Positive reviews, site security (SSL Certificate), website is associated with a location, privacy andcookie policies, CMS updates, are just a few examples of trust building elements in your digital presence.
Proactively manage your web presence: A strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can help you direct more high-quality traffic to your website, but to do so, you need to manage and control the narrative on your channels.
- Owned media are channels you created and/or control. This could be your website, company blog, YouTube channel or even your Facebook and other social media pages.
- Earned media is when customers, the press, and the public share your content, speak about your brand via word of mouth, and otherwise discuss your brand. In other words, the mentions are “earned,” meaning they are voluntarily given by others. Albeit hard to control, it’s your responsibility to try and shape this perception to be strong and positive.
- Paid media is when you pay to leverage a third-party channel, such as sponsorships and advertising on third-party sites.
Audit your upcoming content campaigns: It’s okay to take a second look. In fact, you must!
- If you or your marketing agency had designed and built out campaigns at the start of the year for every quarter, it’s important to re-evaluate.
- Buying patterns and trends have changed. Digital marketing needs a new approach with tools, technologies and tactics that are relevant and effective in this new normal. Talk to us at WSI eStrategies—we have a pulse on what works and what doesn’t.
Take stock of the keywords you are currently targeting: Your products, your service, and the way you deliver them might have changed. Possibly, so have the search terms being used by your customers.Smart business owners and marketers are foreseeing what terms, questions and platforms are trending. Remember, many of these search terms may not exist yet in Google’s database. You need to be proactive and ensure your content is ready and optimized to take advantage of this new search traffic when it takes off.
Ensure your mobile presence is exceptional: Consumers today demand a seamless and fast mobile experience. To thrive online, everything you do should be done for mobile-first.
Focus on the user experience of your customers: When we talk user experience, we often talk about site navigation, clear calls to action, accessible forms, and anything that can help improve conversion. Although these factors are all still applicable today, we need to consider our current state and provide a different user experience that is reflective of the care, concern, understanding and empathy your organization is showing towards your customers during these difficult times. For example, your branded, gated content that previously may have required sign-ups, subscriptions, and memberships, can now be made available to all users. You stand a better chance at converting new customers than of losing existing ones!
- Narrow your focus. Think about what you have that your customers need right now and speak directly to those needs front and centre on your website.
- Don’t squeeze!Move from hard selling to soft selling. Focus less on the product or service you’re offering, and more on what it can do for your customer.
- Make customer service easily accessible. Phone numbers email addresses, hours, instructions for pick up or delivery should be quickly discoverable.
- Give assurances: Show that you can deliver, even if it’s slower than usual. Stand behind the products/services you’re offering and let customers know you’re following your country’s public health guidelines.
Want to discuss your optimization strategy and find out which short-term and long-term SEO tactics you should be using? Rely on the experts at WSI eStrategies in Ottawa. Book a discovery meeting and learn how we can help optimize your digital presence during COVID-19, and beyond.
Mark Jamieson of WSI eStrategies presented a webinar recently about optimizing your digital presence during COVID-19. You can listen to the recording here