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6 Ways to Use SEO to Offset Coronavirus Pandemic Business Losses

The COVID-19 coronavirus impact on companies varies. The effects depend on the current demand level for an enterprise’s goods and services, plus whether an establishment can operate normally or must temporarily close.

However, search engine optimization (SEO) can help all companies reduce the effects of their business losses from COVID-19.

1. Tweak Google My Business Listings

Google My Business (GMB) makes a company’s information appear in a box on the right side of the page when a person searches for a specific enterprise. The content includes crucial information, such as business hours and location. However, a company may establish different opening times or temporarily close due to the coronavirus.

Excellent SEO for business includes proactively going to the GMB listing as an authorized user and altering the information there as appropriate. Google advises that such changes made to a page may take more time than usual to approve. It also will not publish new reviews or Q&A content to the GMB listing until further notice.

Another recent feature associated with GMB allows companies to post COVID-19 updates. They can add appropriate calls to action to urge people to order goods online or call to schedule a delivery, for example. Keeping people informed about operating changes can offset business losses because it avoids the possibility of making an incorrect assumption about a business closure.

2. Add Structured Data to COVID-19-Related Announcements or Frequently Asked Questions

Google published guidance for webmasters managing health or government sites during the coronavirus outbreak. These suggestions make the content more visible to viewers and apply to other types of websites, too. Structured data instructs search engine crawlers on how to display a site’s information within the results pages. It can also increase the chances of the content appearing as a featured snippet.

Google’s information recommends adding structured data to any frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages and announcements about the coronavirus impact experienced by a company. If a business has dedicated COVID-19 announcements, there are two ways to release them to the public. The first is to apply the SpecialAnnouncement tag, along with specifics such as the date and the type of information.

People who cannot access their site’s HTML or need to publish an announcement set to expire in less than a month can submit the content through Search Console. However, that option does not allow for updating the announcement the way SpecialAnnouncement tags do. Also, webmasters and SEO specialists should become familiar with the structured data specifics for FAQ tags, including ways to designate questions and accepted answers.

These tips concerning SEO for business boost the chances of people coming across the current information they need or want to know. Thus, companies can drive traffic to their websites, plus increase the likelihood of people doing business there. For example, a company that held in-person classes before the coronavirus outbreak could inform the public of how it moved the education online, and then tell them how to sign up.

3. Invest in Relevant Content Marketing to Build Trust

Trustworthiness is one of the primary factors Google assesses. Thus, it directly impacts where a site appears in search results. Concerning business losses, COVID-19 may cause people to stop supporting brands they do not trust. Edelman recently published a report about trust during the coronavirus pandemic. It revealed that 84% of respondents want companies to be reliable sources for COVID-19 news.

Another statistic from the report found that one-third of those polled convinced someone to stop doing business with a brand they believed did not respond appropriately to the coronavirus pandemic. How do these statistics apply to SEO for business? They emphasize the need for companies to move ahead with their content marketing strategies to increase the audience’s brand confidence.

For example, a local outdoor goods shop might publish a blog post suggesting places in the area where a person can enjoy nature while practicing social distancing guidelines. Alternatively, a preschool could publish early learning activities to help parents and youngsters enrich their minds despite the ongoing business closures affecting their usual activities.

Another smart technique is to publish helpful graphics on the homepage that remind people of which strategies to take as the coronavirus crisis continues. Free, printable resources are on hand that explain hand-washing techniques and other prevention methods so that people can quickly refer to them as needed. Having those materials is especially crucial since many people are still adjusting to the need to stay six feet apart, for example. Ongoing reminders create new behaviors. – Kayla Matthews

4. Implement Coronavirus Keywords

As Google’s algorithms continually change, a focus remains on implementing relevant keywords. The practice in the early days of SEO centered on inserting the keywords as much as possible, even when doing so made sentences hard to understand. The best practice now is to include the keywords in ways that keep the piece maximally informative for the reader without disrupting the content’s flow.

Including keywords to reflect visitors’ search queries is also essential. Doing that ensures people see useful content when they type in phrases and arrive at sites. SEO professionals are understandably curious about the coronavirus impact on SEO search terms. An agency called Conductor sought to learn more when Stephan Bajaio, the company’s chief evangelist and co-founder, compiled a keyword list.

The document contained more than 12,000 keywords related to COVID-19. The vast majority were new terms with no monthly search volume available yet. Moreover, approximately 9,400 of the search terms contained “coronavirus” or “COVID-19.” People often entered queries such as “coronavirus New York City,” reflecting their desire to see localized content. Another one of Conductor’s statistics showed that more than 1,600 of the compiled keywords surpassed 14 million searches.

Conductor’s information also revealed the popularity of keywords related to the coronavirus and travel or insurance, plus preventive measures against the virus. Those results strongly suggest that people want to learn how COVID-19 affects their lives, and what they should do to stay safe.

As enterprises try to minimize their business losses from COVID-19, they should consider altering keyword usage so that the content on a site reflects what people need and want to know, plus drives traffic and sales. Succeeding in these aims requires regularly checking SEO metrics and adjusting the company’s approach accordingly.

5. Pay Attention to Social Media Mentions

Companies should also think about using a tool to track social media mentions. A Google representative confirmed back in 2014 that they don’t influence a site’s rankings, but analysts point out how the search engine giant’s stance on the matter may have changed since then. Regardless of whether social media mentions affect how a site appears in a list of results, tracking social media mentions offers another benefit: It gives user intent insights.

User intent is a vital part of SEO best practices. Google’s algorithms can identify the context of a person’s query and serve them appropriate results. Thus, if companies understand the kind of information people want on a website, they can better cater to the audience.

For example, numerous members of a state-wide Facebook group may start tagging a natural foods grocery chain and asking things like, “Does anyone know if they still have Saturday hours?” or “Which courier does the store use for its online orders?” The company then gets an accurate glimpse of the topics that matter to customers. SEO experts can take that information and use it to enhance their strategies.

6. Adapt Your SEO Strategy to Reflect New Needs and Concerns

Another fascinating finding from the previously cited Edelman survey was that 54% of respondents are not paying attention to new products unless they help with their pandemic-related challenges. Brands can use SEO to start mitigating the coronavirus impact by using new keywords that cater to the things that presently matter most to people. Businesses should start by thinking of what they offer, along with related terms concerning COVID-19.

For example, a food delivery company might start using keywords like, “contact-free” and “social distancing” to target people who want food brought to their doorsteps but worry about the risks of interacting with the driver.  Similarly, a brand offering online learning content could start incorporating phrases including “stay occupied during lockdowns” or “make the most of your time indoors” to appeal to people who feel bored and eager to fill their days.

No one knows how long the coronavirus pandemic might necessitate such drastic lifestyle changes. Now is a perfect time for SEO specialists to respond to the times and revamp their processes to accommodate pressing needs. When a visitor believes a site or company understands their situation, they’ll be more likely to do business with the respective brand.

Using SEO for Business Relief Starts Now

There’s no single, guaranteed way to boost sales and traffic during the COVID-19 crisis. These suggestions are excellent starting points, however. They’re both practical and applicable to the current situation.