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The abrupt shutdown of offices, retail locations, restaurants, and other public spaces due to coronavirus has had far-reaching adverse consequences. U.S. financial markets still haven’t returned to solid footing. Local small businesses have been hit particularly hard. When faced with such profound and sudden commercial and social disruption, it’s only natural that people focus on the economic turmoil, personal difficulty, and dire daily updates on the spread of the pandemic.
As a business owner, however, it’s critical to remember that business is still being conducted and economic activity is still being transacted at virtually every level around the globe. This is no time for you to lose focus on building your business, your brand, and your customer base. In fact, the unique circumstances presented by COVID-19 actually represent a potent opportunity to lift your SEO game for the benefit of your clients and your company, not only during the pandemic, but also well into the future. Here are the top five reasons why SEO is even more important to your business success during COVID-19.
Four out of five consumers use search to find local information. If your website isn’t optimized for local search, you could be missing 80% of your potential customers. And that’s not all…
Local search and the value of local SEO has been trending up over the past few years. The coronavirus epidemic has merely accelerated the process and made local SEO more relevant than ever. Given social distancing and work-from-home guidelines, people have little choice but to search locally for the goods and services they need.
If you haven’t done so already, optimize your site for geo-targeted keywords: patent lawyer in Denver, career consultant in Minneapolis, Italian restaurant in Houston, social services agency in Columbus, web hosting in Maryland etc. Include your geographic location in the titles, subheads, meta tags, image names, and content on all pages.
Make the links to your “About Us” and “Contact Us” pages clearly visible in your navigation and footer of every page. Be sure to include your address, directions, a Google map, contact info, and business hours — anything that emphasizes your physical location and makes it easy for search engines to find your business.
Get listed in popular business directories, such as Yelp, SuperPages, CitySearch and more. Not only will this make it more likely your web site will be found by more searchers, your listing on these directories will provide stable links back to your website which in turn will improve your own search ranking.
Google’s the leader in search. There’s a thing called Google My Business. You have a business. Any questions about next steps? If you haven’t already signed up for Google My Business, during COVID-19 is the perfect time.
Consumers are wary and hesitant to leave the house. They need good reason to go anywhere to do anything. Google My Business can help boost a potential client’s confidence by reflecting additional credibility and reassurance on your business.
Consider that customers are 70% more likely to visit a business with a Google My Business listing. Another study found that businesses with complete listings on Google are twice as likely to earn a customer’s trust. Best of all, Google business accounts are inherently strong in local SEO — it’s a Google product, after all — so whatever information you share will rank above websites not using Google My Business.
The first step is to create a Google My Business account and an associated Google My Business profile. Once you provide the requested data, all of the details of your business will automatically appear in Google Search local results and Google Maps, optimized in advance by Google itself.
People thrive on connections. The explosion in social media use over the past decade tells us something: People want to stay in touch with other people they know and trust. Your mission is to make sure you’re someone your existing and potential customers know, trust, and want to stay in touch with, especially in difficult times.
Social media has the added benefit of contributing to high rankings in search results. And for good reason: SEO depends on honesty and trust, especially during the current pandemic. Take the time to post regularly and refer to your geographic area to enhance credibility, build community, and foster relationships.
SEO and social media augment one another in a virtuous circle. The more your followers engage with and share your social media posts, the more you enhance brand awareness and drive organic traffic – which in turn gets rewarded with higher search rankings. Since search users view Google’s ranking system as reliable, your business begins to build credibility in the eyes of potential new customers even before they arrive on your website.
The fact is, your clients and customers still need your products or services, they still want to stay connected to you, perhaps now more than ever. What’s more, some of your competitors may shift their business plans into neutral to ride out the current economic uncertainty. If so, their customers will be searching for new solutions to their problems. Make sure they find you.
Stay consistent with your SEO and social media efforts. You’ll not only strengthen your standing with existing customers who relied on you through a difficult time, you’ll also position yourself as the business of choice for potential new customers long after the pandemic ends.
SEO during a public health crisis is extremely cost-effective compared to other marketing alternatives. You won’t spend anything extra in dollars, time, effort, or staff. You just need to create compelling content for your website and social media accounts, exactly as you’ve been doing all along.
You have been keeping on top of SEO all along, haven’t you?
If so, good for you. If not, use this time away from the usual office rush to reestablish some sound fundamentals to optimize your website and your search strategy. For example:
People are stuck at home searching online in greater numbers than ever, looking for the things they want and need. Whatever your product, service, or niche, the coronavirus pandemic presents an unprecedented opportunity to reach out to existing and potential clients in a unique way. Your company’s actions and messaging during the crisis won’t go unnoticed by your audience. Better still, the adjustments you make to your website will all contribute to a boost in search rankings.
As a business owner, this is a rare opportunity to enhance your brand, increase sales, and win new clients all in a single public outreach. Now’s the time to ramp up your SEO efforts to draw as many eyeballs as possible to your website. Then show visitors exactly why your company is worthy of their trust and business, both now and after the crisis passes.
SEO is critical to your business’s success all the time. That’s reason enough to make sure you’re doing everything you can to enhance your website’s visibility during the coronavirus pandemic. But COVID-19 provides additional opportunity to distinguish your website and differentiate your business from your competitors. Any improvement in search ranking you achieve in the current situation will continue to benefit your company when the world returns to business as usual. Keep honing your SEO strategy, even during COVID-19. Remember: The current pandemic is temporary, but the new customers and additional business you generate now will keep paying you back long into the future.
We have seen websites of all shapes and sizes, from brilliant to completely dysfunctional. Your site may live solidly in the middle of the bell curve in this regard, however that doesn’t mean your site couldn’t stand to benefit from some amount of modernization. Just like all other technology, the technology of websites is constantly evolving and changing. Often times, elements of a site which were highly effective when a site was built lose their effectiveness over time; and depending on the nature of your business, you may not even realize how significantly even a small issue can affect your business.
While it may be difficult to fully comprehend and validate the decision to move forward and modernize, it is important to keep in mind that time flies as it relates to technology and user expectations fly right along with it. Your website is a 24-hour, 7-day a week representation of your organization online. It needs to properly showcase your brand, your message and your mission. It should drive results, rather than hinder your efforts.