Back in March, we wrote an article that took a look at how COVID-19 might affect your marketing efforts. At the time, just over 162,000 people had been infected; 8 months later, that number is well over 38 million.
Although we’ve been living with the virus for a while now and we’ve learned a lot about it, many of the challenges facing businesses remain the same. For some, the pandemic has caused a huge increase in demand, for others it’s reduced demand to almost zero, but either way, businesses need their marketing to be on point to help ease them through these new challenges.
While digital marketers have many tools to choose from, SEO is undoubtedly one of the most robust and can help guide you through this period.
So, let’s take a look at how COVID-19 is affecting SEO and what you can do to get the most out of it.
Search Trends are All Over the Place
It’s easy to judge your SEO success purely on the number of organic clicks you get your site. However, in 2020, this number tells less of the story than in previous years. This is because search trends are so up and down that you might be getting less traffic than you’re used to, and yet you’re getting a CTR that’s way higher than normal.
Your SEO might be outperforming your competitors even if you’re getting less traffic; likewise, you could be getting more traffic while underperforming.
Using Google Trends, you can see the crazy effect COVID-19 has had on people’s searches. For example, searches for “local bars” in the UK took a massive hit at the beginning of the pandemic. Then, when the government reopened bars in July, the number of searches went crazy. However, when the government introduced a 10 o'clock curfew in September, the search volume dropped significantly.
The point is, you can’t control what people are searching for, but you can control your performance and make sure you’re maximizing the number of precious clicks you get. Whether you’re in an industry that has seen a big increase in search volume, or a complete drop-off, you can be outcompeting your competition and getting the lion’s share of the people who are searching.
Volatility Calls for Constant Evaluation
We’ve seen throughout the pandemic that regulations can change quickly, and this can lead to sudden changes in consumer behavior. Being able to measure how your SEO is performing has always been important, but during the uncertainty of COVID-19, it’s even more important.
If there are major changes in the messages that are resonating with people, or the ways people search for information, then you want to be able to react as quickly as possible. One of the great things about SEO is that you have access to so much data that can help you to do this.
Make sure you’re getting the most out of your Google Search Console and your website analytics to understand how your audience is changing. Your visitors tell you what they are looking for through the way they interact with your website, so make the most of this information and use it to inform your SEO efforts.
Buyer Personas May Change
One thing we talk about all the time in SEO is understanding your target audience. One of the ways you do this is by creating buyer personas, which help you understand exactly what your target audience might look like.
However, in these unpredictable times, your buyer personas might have changed drastically.
For example, if your business was selling hand-held sprayers pre-pandemic, your buyer persona might be a flower growing business which uses the sprayer to spray weed killer. However, with COVID-19, suddenly your buyer persona has turned into public companies that are looking to use the sprayers to decontaminate large buildings.
Your buyer personas may not have changed as drastically as in this example, but they will have changed in some aspects. Your audience may look the same, but the chances are they might have changed the way they search for information, and their spending power might well have changed. All this information affects your buyer persona, and you need to be able to recognize when it’s changed.
You can craft your content around these buyer personas and maximize your SEO, but you’ve got to understand how your audience has changed.
PPC is Volatile Too
Pay per click advertising has also been quite volatile during the pandemic. While return on advertising spend (ROAS) is up 25% versus pre-pandemic, cost per click is also up 15% over this time period. With advertising costs being unpredictable, and marketing budgets already stretched, this means those free organic clicks are even more valuable.
If you’ve invested in your SEO and you’re doing well in the search engines, then this will have taken some of the pressure off your advertising budget. However, if you’ve not yet got your SEO where you want it to be, all isn’t lost. There are still plenty of opportunities to boost your website’s position in the search engines and get those organic clicks, and sometimes it only takes a few tweaks.
SEO represents a good return on investment and when advertising spends might be limited, it’s a great way to consistently bring in the free clicks that can keep your business ticking over.
More Firms Investing in Digital
Digital marketing has been a huge thing for businesses for many years now. The Coronavirus has brought digital marketing even more into focus though, and even those businesses that have been slow to embrace the online side of things are now refocusing their attention.
This will bring added competition, but those companies who have experience online are going to start with a competitive advantage. Either way, showing up at the top of the rankings is one of the most important aspects for getting your business noticed, and you can only do that through good SEO.
Investing in SEO is one thing, but doing it right is another. The competition is fierce and you need the right people working for you to achieve success.
COVID-19 has changed the world, and its presence has been heavily felt in marketing. With businesses in many industries strapped for cash, marketing budgets have been cut, and this is where those free, organic clicks can be worth their weight in gold.
While the same principles that allowed you to maximize your SEO still apply, the unpredictability of COVID times means businesses have to be even more attuned to their target audience. It’s possible that this target audience has changed a great deal in the past eight months, and continues to change quickly, so you need to be using all the tools you have at your disposal to understand what your target customers look like, what they’re looking for, and how they’re looking for it.
If you can continue to craft the content that puts the right message in front of the right people, then SEO can be a vital part of your marketing that drives your business through these difficult times.