Guest post by Gary Sweeney.
The combination of fear and regulation in response to COVID-19 has driven a huge amount of commercial activity out of the real world and into the online realm. Businesses that haven’t yet adjusted their online presence to reflect this may be at serious risk.
In normal times, businesses gradually increase their online footprint over time: producing videos, writing blog posts, being active on social media, and getting mentioned / linked / quoted in online industry publications.
But in times of disruption, like the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses need to move more of their marketing and sales activities (conference presentations, customer meetings, trade show participation) online.
And to make those efforts successful, it’s crucial to maximize the company’s online visibility through search engine optimization (SEO). Here’s why SEO marketing is vital for your business, particularly during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Done properly, SEO helps your site rank for a larger number of keyword phrases and to rank higher in search for specific high-value terms.
While Google uses more than 200 factors to determine the rank of any page, using relevant keywords in your website copy, making your content compatible across devices, and creating content that is easy to read and understand are some of the factors that help ensure increased traffic.
In crisis times, when people are doing more of their searching and buying online and less time at the mall or travelling, online visibility is even more crucial. 61% of businesses say improving SEO is their top priority when it comes to gaining presence in the market. Among the reasons SEO is important for SMEs during coronavirus are:
Increased Online Shopping
More people are staying indoors and choosing to shop online. You can minimize lost sales and business opportunities by making your services and products easy to find and buy online.
As your brand moves activity and operations online, SEO can extensively help in gaining higher visibility and growing organic search traffic. Optimizing your online content can provide a big boost to marketing performance.
Embracing solid SEO practices will pay dividends now and beyond these pandemic times. Business owners must think about this and grab the opportunity to create increased visibility and an enhanced brand image in the customers’ minds.
So, when things return to “normal,” the effort you put now will show results in increased brand recall.
While employees are working remotely, SEO and online marketing tools can help generate leads, communicate with prospects, and close sales. Regardless of whether you have a B2B or B2C company, these tools can help boost traffic to your site and grow revenue.
Start Marketing Anytime
Before the coronavirus, business owners and marketers used to plan campaigns several months out. Today, messaging and campaigns have to be redesigned every few weeks to keep up with changes in the economy, public mood, and near-term outlook.
During the lockdown period, you can start and run search-optimized campaigns anytime without detailed planning. The idea of SEO is to make your brand highly visible so prospects and customers will find you when they need what you sell.
Scale Without Added Costs
Even in normal times, 16% to 20% of searches are for phrases Google has never seen before. That figure is even higher in these unprecedented (yes, it’s an overused word, but still accurate) times, that figure is even higher.
By rapidly responding to and even predicting where search terms will go next, optimizing website content for those phrases can attract more traffic. A website will also be more discoverable online if it is more organized and has technical issues removed.
Obviously, SEO is a boon for businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic. It is helping marketers reach a broader target audience and also develop long-term strategies. SEO empowers employees working from home. All these factors suggest you should focus on using SEO tools to make sure your business maximizes its online visibility.
Optimize For Local Search
With fewer people travelling by air, businesses must have optimized local search encompassing their “driveable” business area. Local SEO helps assure your website is visible in the results of searches such as “near me” and “open now.”
Despite the restriction of services right now, it is still essential to optimize your website to let people know what you can currently and when you anticipate a broader re-opening. Doing this helps to show potential customers that your business still exists and makes them familiar with it even for the future.
Local Customers Support Local Businesses
In the midst of the pandemic, people have started showing support for small local businesses. In fact, “near me” queries have increased by more than 200% since 2018. You can use this opportunity to increase traffic and help your customers find you by optimizing your business website.
Make sure that all information regarding your business is consistent and up to date, not only on your website but also across other social platforms.
It takes time to convert visitors into customers. You can plan an SEO strategy where you publish informative blog posts and keep your site updated. It is a step toward building trust with your customers and making them familiar with your brand.
SEO is essential, especially for SMEs during the coronavirus outbreak because travel restrictions have caused consumers to look for ecommerce and local businesses. They are trying to purchase more online, stay local, and support small businesses.
This is an excellent time for SMEs to prioritize SEO efforts to stand out from their competitors and make their brand known to potential customers. And since SEO is not hard to get started with, you still have time.
SEO will be key marketing tactic for businesses affected by COVID-19. It can help you gain more visibility on search engines and set your business up for future success after the coronavirus lockdown.
Gary Sweeney is the managing director of web design and digital marketing company Blue Whale Media. Being a veteran of SEO marketing, he founded his own company which has proudly serviced local businesses for their website design and digital marketing requirements since 2012.