Although internet usage during COVID is at an all-time high, search traffic has dropped dramatically across many industries. So the question that is weighing heavy on many business owners and marketing manager’s minds is, is SEO now pointless in this business climate? The simple answer is ABSOLUTELY not.
In this article, we will look at the benefits of SEO for smaller business and analyse current trends and behavioural patterns online, covering:
- The effect of COVID-19 on search traffic
- Why SEO is vital during the COVID-19 pandemic
- The importance of SEO for SMEs (small to medium enterprises)
Even if you are up against stiff SEO competition, this year SEO is not useless right now
COVID-19’s impact on search traffic
There are many articles currently circulating on the internet relating to how important SEO is during COVID-19 as internet usage is at an all-time high. I agree that SEO is essential, but we need to delve deeper to understand why.
Let me explain: Yes, internet usage is currently at an all-time high during this pandemic; however, ‘internet use’ is often misinterpreted. Searches make up a percentage of online activity. However, this includes a marked increase in electronic transfers, virtual meetings, streaming, gaming, use of mobile apps, social media interaction, and more.
I’m not saying online searches have dropped though. Given the measures taken by governments and business due to the pandemic, we have seen a significant spike in at-home activities. Search volume has increased; however, areas such as health and news are where much of the search traffic is.
The domino effect is a decrease in traffic for non-essential business websites (unfortunately, many of which are small businesses) both in paid and organic results.
Meaning SEO is different depending on your industry.
- For relevant and essential businesses, SEO will make you stand out
- For non-essential businesses, SEO can be deemed less necessary, even somewhat hopeless
However, SEO is essential for the survival of all SMEs during this pandemic and to gain traction next year.
Why SEO is crucial during COVID-19
Declines in search traffic have led to much misinformation floating around, regarding the importance of SEO. SEO specialists should be consulted during these times to understand how to utilise their effectiveness.
Fact #1: COVID-19 is trending
It seems like COVID-19 will dominate the news, and search engine results forever; it already feels like it’s been going on forever! Sure there will be long-term effects, but the global economy will move on.
I am not trivialising the virus, but customer’s questions and FAQs will remain the backbone of online business long after the human race has begun to deal with the virus.
Fact #2: Evergreen content is still your staple diet
It’s fine to write about current trending topics but understand these will fade away and decline on the search engines.
Be prepared for the fact that you are up against high authority sites that will rule page one results. The content you write, answering FAQ’s relating to your industry will continue to be relevant and keep garnering traffic over time. It’s always a good time to create content on evergreen topics.
Fact #3: Quality over quantity
People can get confused about SEO and not understand it’s purpose is not only to increase website traffic but to attract qualified traffic. Meaning visitors who are finding your website over opposing trends are most likely than not to have interest in your products and services. In essence, SEO helps bring higher qualified leads for your business.
Fact #4: SEO for long-term gain
Consistent digital marketing efforts go hand in hand with SEO. Gaining the trust of the search engines, over time, has to be the main aim, so your business ranks higher when searched. Continuous content creation is vital to gaining traction with SEO, but the results may not be immediately apparent. However, don’t worry, there is plenty you can do today to help your SEO.
Fact #5: It has never been more important to appear in searches
Although traffic driven by search engines has declined,traffic to search engines is going through the roof. The majority of people are turning to Google for their news and updates. COVID-19 has built a reliance on search platforms for most age groups, making SEO a serious endeavour for your business now and in the future.
Crucial areas of SEO during COVID-19
Concentrate on local search
With travel restrictions at an all-time high people are becoming local-centric. So local searches such as ‘SEO company near me’ or ‘SEO company around me’ are trending. Even if your services are somewhat restricted at the moment, local optimisation is a sure way to drive quick and easy traffic to your doorstep. Make sure your community know you are around and what you are still able to offer.
People now want to support local businesses
COVID-19 is bringing communities together like never before and trend that is due to stay long after Covid-19 has subdued. There has been an overwhelming demand and support for local small businesses. Make sure your business information is up-to-date not just on your website but across all your social media platforms.
Small business SEO – getting you on the map
Getting new visitors to convert into clients is no easy task and takes time. By publishing informative and regular blogs as part of your SEO strategy, you are doing more than informing and updating; you are creating familiarity and long-lasting trust in your brand.
SEO can be affordable
If you can, now is the time to invest in SEO to push your business forward. Please don’t get confused, as this doesn’t have to be financial; it can be merely spending your time. Of course, if you have a marketing budget enlist the help of an SEO company or SEO specialists. Get the right advice, get started, and keep the ball rolling.
SEO tactics for small businesses
I’m sure if you found this article and have read this far, you understand that SEO is a tool you need to utilise. However, I may well have convinced you that SEO is essential, but one question remains… where to start?
Here are some ideas to get you going:
- Write and stockpile high-quality, evergreen content and blog posts
- Specify search terms for local searches relevant in your industry and local areas such as towns and suburbs your service
- Conduct an audit to see what your competitors are ranking for
- Update your Google My Business listing, if you don’t have one, create one immediately
- Update well-performing pages with fresh content
Make SEO a priority, today
- It’s always a good time publish evergreen or long-life content – start today
- SEO gains will take time, be patient and don’t get disheartened, remember some of your competition is pulling back, here’s your chance to push forward
- Search platforms are now a go-to more than ever before
SEO is vital for small businesses at the moment because:
- Travel restrictions are leading consumers to look to nearby companies
- Consumers want to support people in their community
- SEO is helping SMEs can stand out from competitors
- If you have time, it is easy to get started
SEO can help you to become more visible on searches setting you up for success once search trends start returns to normal.
Three Quick fire tips to increase your online presence
#1 Local listings
Check your Google My Business listing: This is the easiest way for people in your catchment area to find you – update or create and make yourself visible. Maps, opening hours and any information regarding how you are dealing with COVID-19 will be informative to customers.
#2 Fresh website content
Keep adding new, fresh content regularly, this way the search engines start to link to your site.
#3. Google ads check in
Google ads are changing, competition for keywords could have dramatically changed in the last quarter, so this needs to be managed. An experienced SEO company and SEO specialists know how to handle this situation.
Don’t give up. If you feel you can’t do it, consult an SEO company. Take a good look at where else you could make small cuts to keep some SEO marketing going. Remember, many of your competitors have done EXACTLY that! So here’s a chance, even in a small way to get your nose in-front for when the world returns to what we will call the ‘New norm’. I wish you good luck!