COVID-19 & New Normals: How SEO Can Help Save Your Business

Right now, headlines across the world are all reflecting one thing: COVID-19. The spread of this pandemic will have long-term impacts on the economy in more ways than one, and the key to survival in this trying time comes down to two words: anticipation and adaptation. You can do both by implementing good SEO practices.

Why is SEO more important than ever? Major and permanent shifts in consumer behaviour are on the horizon as e-commerce graduates from a “convenience” to an “essential”. Once brick-and-mortar stores can re-open their doors to the public, there is a big chance that consumers will opt to continue the habits formed while in lockdown. That is, the migration of consumers from offline to online may become a permanent state of being.

What does this mean for businesses, both online and offline? And the million-dollar question: how can SEO help your business to anticipate changes, adapt to the “new normal”, and recover along with the rest of the world?

Predicting and Projecting: What Does the Current Situation Say About the Future?

Creating a proactive marketing and SEO strategy begins with estimating where the economy is going, and as we all know, the best projections originate in solid data. We must analyse how COVID-19 has impacted on search trends, the popularity of certain verticals, and consumer behaviour online (including social media). This will help us to predict the trajectory of the coming months.

What Does “Right Now” Look Like?

Right now, there are five primary industries that are seeing a jump in online traffic as a result of COVID-19’s impact.

  • Finance (although this industry saw a decline in conversions).
  • Healthcare
  • Pharma
  • Food
  • Media
  • Insurance (this is projected to see a significant increase post-COVID-19).

If you are in one of these five industries, it will be much easier for you to ride the wave and come out on top. Customers are still demonstrating an interest, so now is the time to use that interest to your advantage.

However, if you are in one of the many other industries where online traffic and offline sales have taken a hit, then you need to use this time to adapt as your customer base has. According to a report from Numerator’s Consumer Behaviour Survey, there has been growth in the number of consumers choosing to access goods online. Thirteen per cent have drifted into the online market where they previously had not ventured, but oddly, conversions are still declining in almost all industries.

We could attribute this to many businesses not being prepared for the shift to an online or e-commerce dynamic. Customers are looking, but they’re simply not finding avenues for purchasing. In conjunction with this, changes in consumer behaviour are significant. A category of buyers — we will call them “Stockpilers” — has emerged from the woodwork. These are the consumers who have bought everything they need and then promptly descended into hibernation, stockpiling their supplies. This takes a significant chunk out of the market.

What Do These Changes Mean for the Future?

Necessity has become the mother of evolution, in this case. Consumers are being bottlenecked into new purchasing behaviours and buying online has become the primary avenue for people to access goods they might have previously accessed from brick-and-mortar stores. Through this, the convenience of e-commerce has been highlighted to almost everyone, and consumers may start to expect all businesses to have a way to access their goods online.

Much like a mutation changes the course of human evolution, so too has COVID-19 altered the course of consumer behaviour. Habits take roughly five to six weeks to form and solidify. The weeks in isolation have been more than enough, and once we all emerge from our cocoons, the habit of online buying might have fully set in. This is a distinct possibility, and one all businesses must be prepared for.

How SEO Will Bridge the Gap Post-COVID-19

SEO is, and always has been, the key to maintaining and growing your business in the online space. It is an SEO expert’s job to assess fluctuations in the market and utilise those shifts to the benefit of business clients. COVID-19 has changed the game almost completely, and what is that if not a massive fluctuation in trends? By sheer virtue of necessity, online search is of more importance than ever before. The ever-changing goalposts have jumped at lightspeed.

Below, we’ve listed our tips for recovery through SEO practices that will help you keep the focus on how you can benefit your customers during this time, which will benefit your business in the long run.

The Importance of Search and Marketing

In times of crisis, the first thing to be cut from the budget is marketing, but this is the opposite of a good plan. Many companies in New Zealand have halted their paid search strategies due to COVID-19 related business interruptions, but as more consumers flock online to seek information about business reactions to the crisis, paid search is more important than ever before.

The key here is to take the time to evaluate your paid search strategy. Optimise it and focus on providing a guiding light for consumers in this new way of life. Help them to stay connected with you through a comprehensive paid search strategy, humanise the business through consistent use of social media, and you’ll be on your way to post-pandemic success.

  • Get a professional to look at your paid search strategy for potential optimisations.
  • Consider upping the budget you put into the online marketing portion of your business.
  • Deliver relevant content to your consumers. Almost nothing is more effective when it comes to organic traffic than riding the wave of the trending topic.

Long-Term Returns Begin Now

Using the aggressive fluctuations in behaviour to place your company on top of the search rankings is a smart choice. SEO requires an investment upfront, some grinding work in the middle, but at the end, you will be seeing returns on those efforts for years to come.

  • Create, optimise, and publish relevant content that will boost your site’s equity.
  • Review and re-publish any content currently on your site (from landing pages to blogs) while optimising for the current conditions online.
  • Invest in an SEO audit to find broken links, content gaps, or messy site structures. Fixing these while you will put you on top when everything quiets down (and keep you there).

Understanding the “New Normal”

Use resources like your Google Analytics data, summarised data from SEO sources, and tools like Google Trends to find the voice of your ideal consumer. Their needs are your target, so optimise toward them.

  • Use relevant keywords and build quality content around them.
  • Boost ads, paid search, and social strategy for their demographics.
  • Produce unique offers that make your company stand out for their needs.
  • Utilise the art of the email blast to speak to them directly with your offers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had major impacts on the world around us, halting the world amidst tragedy and forcing us to re-evaluate what is important. Take this time to do the same for your business. Emerge stronger than before, with a foundation that can tackle anything and everything the world chooses to throw at you in the future.

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Pure SEO is a leading digital marketing agencythat specialises in meeting the needs of the consumer. Utilise our services today to find out how you can ride the wave and come out on top. Contact us now.

Courtney-Dale Nel

Courtney is a Content Writer on the Pure SEO team. They have a Bachelor in Behavioural Psychology, way too much experience working with pigeons, and a fondness for nachos that rivals most marriages.

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