SEO Takeaways From COVID-19

Posted on May. 28, 2020  /  Insights  /  

By Alyssa Murfey, Connections Supervisor at VMLY&R 

From takeout to testing, search trends are reacting to keep up with a general public thirsty for answers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Who would have known that sourdough baking video views would increase 260% (Think With Google)? Trends are shifting at a rapid-fire pace, but there are plenty of takeaways to strengthen your long-term search visibility.

Statistic about increase in breadmaking videos on YouTube from Think With Google.

Lean Into Local Search

There’s a reason Google assumes you are searching for things “near you.” Those micro moments are when users turn to search to help them navigate queries through geographical (and temporal) lenses, and they’re key opportunity points to drive users to take the desired action.

Google My Business (GMB) listings — the informational panels that show up about a given business’s address and hours in Google search results — are part of the signposts that lead users to a site, Google map directions or to make a call. 

With staggered reopenings at businesses nationwide, the local search micro moments we see in trends right now reflect the importance of always keeping local search top of mind.

Google Trending Searches for Coronavirus Reopenings

“Google, and the pandemic, have made GMB into the most important local marketing tool for SMBs and multi-location brands,” Greg Sterling of the Search Engine Journal said.

While GMB usage by searchers has been down temporarily because people are going out less, Google My Business has become an essential tool for businesses to communicate with customers during times of uncertainty. And beyond the pandemic, it will continue to be a critical way that Google provides a bridge between businesses and users to fuel local search results.

What can you do? Use the Google My Business tool set to your full advantage.

  • Keep information up to date and consistent, whether you have one location or thousands. If you do have multiple locations, there are tools like Moz and Yext to help you manage listings at scale.
  • Find authentic ways to encourage customers to leave reviews.
  • Upload high-quality imagery of the location with optimized titles for alt text accessibility.
  • Consider how you can leverage eye-catching areas like Google Posts, where you can create content blocks beneath your listing and can include hyperlinks to specific areas of your site.

Here’s an optimization guide to get you started.

Google Posts relay important information beneath Google My Business listings.

Serve Your Key Audiences While Speaking to Big Trends

Moments That Are Always There

While Mother’s Day, graduations and birthdays may look different in 2020, it doesn’t stop people from celebrating these occasions. In some ways, people are seeking more resources to help them navigate seasonal moments than ever before.

Whether it be a fiscal year turnover or students going back to school, leverage your first-party data, like sales or Google Analytics site data, to inform key seasonal moments. Consider if those moments may even be occurring at a higher frequency. Some questions to ask yourself and your teams:

  • Are there any patterns in site visits, brand visibility or sales that are top-of-mind moments for the brand?
  • How can you construct your brand’s content and search engine visibility to be a resource?
  • How can you always prepare your site and ecommerce channels for those moments? At what moments will you activate with greater veracity?

Challenge your teams to shape your site and other searchable experiences to meet your customers with search-driven resources at the right times.  

Moments That Arise

PR and organic search are old college buddies that will always be tight. Stories and interests that gain momentum on other channels will inevitably land in search. There are many sides to a story — and the same is true for trends.

Consider how your audience will be searching for resources and if you have value to offer and lean into. Can you generate a more significant story with value that will create buzz and media, which you can meet with content via your site or ecommerce in search? Some examples of local and national brands doing this:

Curbside KC offers local restaurant information to patrons during coronavirus.

Whether you are generating your own story or leaning into another that is catching fire, make something worth telling.

Get Your House in Order

The above ideas can’t be found if your site is not friendly to search engines. It’s essential to take a step back and recognize the foundational elements of SEO that drive success.

Take the time to crawl your client or brand site using a tool like Screaming Frog and see if there are any areas where you can help search engines better understand site contents.

Evaluating search visibility is never a bad idea. You uncover opportunities when you understand how search engines work to help your content, ecommerce and creative ideas flourish. In conclusion, it’s time to buddy up with the SEO person at your agency or organization and ask them for a virtual coffee date.

Huge thanks to Alyssa Murfey of VMLY&R for sharing these valuable insights with the AAF-KC community!
Alyssa Murfey Headshot

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