Coronavirus & SEO - navigating the pandemic online
Updated: Apr 2, 2021
No one could have possibly predicted the current situation that is the global pandemic result stemming from COVID-19. Back in December 2019, something happened that has changed the way that the population of the planet lives, works and communicate. Never before has this generation seen the internet prove to be so vital and integral to communication with friends, relatives, colleagues or clients; and now as we enter May 2020 it seems that plenty of businesses are gearing up to relaunch or reopen their businesses (to whatever extent that they are allowed).
As we look to the horizon and see the huge cogs of our economy start to turn we still do not know which businesses will reopen, which will go into administration and which will change.
Fitness fanatics have just experienced online personal training or tried Peleton and found that they like it. Which is a good thing because when those big warehouse sized gyms reopen, I’m not so sure that people will want to be in the same building as a few hundred others.
Navigating the online ether and aligning your SEO to help your business to prosper is fundamental to ensure that you have the best chance of winning market share and helping your business to thrive. Now is the time to evaluate your SEO strategy and make updates.
Right now, Google is changing its listing to help the world share vital knowledge about coronavirus. Any business that is involved in health, medical research, pharmaceuticals or the like would be remiss if they did not write content and articles about the coronavirus pandemic and contribute whatever they can. Businesses that are not directly linked with the pandemic should avoid writing about it to keep SERPs (search engine results pages) clear and unclogged from the more scholarly contributors. (Searchmetrics Podcast).
That said, I have been approached by more businesses now then ever before in my career in digital marketing asking for help with their SEO. Several weeks ago, I read an article which cited an industry guru saying that businesses would be cutting back on their marketing budget and not spending. Well, maybe some have but, in my situation, this could not be further from the truth. I am currently working on website and SEO projects from the UK, Germany, America and Dubai.
With schools mainly closed and children being educated at home, education facilities have called upon SEO experts to help place their websites and resources in front of parents who have suddenly had to add ‘teacher’ to their list of jobs; and Zoom has reported crashing under the sheer weight of new users running online fitness and martial arts classes. There is most certainly a market which needs good SEO to thrive as a result of coronavirus whose services are specific
Brands who advertise at events could look to sponsor radio or podcasts to circumnavigate the time gap between now and when larger gatherings will take place.
Social media platforms like Facebook have become a thriving hub for the business community (and why not?) When I worked with newspaper advertising about a decade ago I was promoting the benefits of social media and digital marketing over print advertising. It was obvious even back then that a locally based business could reach a much larger local population at a fraction of the cost of print or offline advertising.
However – I wish to extend a cautionary word of advice to those who are looking for assistance with their social media marketing. There is a ‘Facebook expert’ or a ‘social media guru’ on every virtual street corner who will claim to be able to catapult your website traffic into the stratosphere and x10 your client base overnight. My Facebook newsfeed is inundated with sponsored posts from them (sometimes I read the comments. They can be pretty amusing!) Take the time (let’s face it, we all have a lot more time on our hands right now) to use that little white box called Google. Do some research. Find out how to do ‘Facebook marketing’ or ‘social media marketing’. You would be amazed at what you can do without needing to pay anyone!
Here is a no-brainer for you – heads over to the shop on this website and get my e-book. I’m giving it away free of charge to everyone to help businesses to survive through this pandemic and come out of the other side with a fighting chance of keeping their business going for a lot longer than they may currently think. If you do download my book the next step is, of course, to use some of your newfound free time to read through it and implement some of your learning.
When Boris announced that the UK was going into lockdown and that most businesses had to shut up shop, I lost literally all my income in one day. Like a row of dominoes, I received confirmation via text or messenger that I would not be needed until we all went back to work. It is an action that is completely understandable but to me, not always the best course of action. This is also evident in a recession. Over the years of sales and marketing training I was always taught that when times are tough, tighten your bootstraps, get your head down and plough through. Many businesses will be making the decision to stop advertising and why not? If they cannot open and their staff cannot work, why would they advertise themselves?
My answer would be ‘because everyone else is likely to do the same!’ While they are losing all the momentum that they may have gained from their blogs, articles, social media posts and on page SEO, the ones who maintain their presence will be the ones at the top of the lists when this is all over. Those who shut their doors to online promotion will find it a steeper climb back up to where they were once they start to invest in their online portfolios but like I said, the perceived normal course of action would be to stop spending on anything deemed unnecessary. Spending on marketing when you cannot trade seems so counterproductive.
That said, there is a wealth of options available to the small business owner who has more time to invest in their own online marketing now. They simply may not be aware of it! Here is a list of options that you can try to help maintain your online presence without worrying about spending money on marketing:
MY BLOG PAGE – I have been putting together my FCWD Learning Hub for a while now. You can find it HERE. It’s packed with articles about websites, marketing and SEO tips and techniques. Take some time to read a few articles and try to put into practice what you learn. If you need to ask anything then just send me an email – I’m happy to help.
YOUR BLOG PAGE – If you’re not blogging then you’re falling behind. Blogging is a great way to add quality content to your website that search engines like Google can index. If you have some time, why not start writing those blog articles that didn’t have time for before? Keep your articles relevant to your business and informative to your audience.
SOMEONE ELSES BLOG – Everyone has competitors. You can go to their website, social media pages or blog and see what are doing. Seeing what others are doing might give you ideas on how you can improve your online presence.
QUORA – Quora is a place where people ask questions about anything and people in the know can answer. You can start becoming known as an expert in your industry by answering questions. You will be helping someone out, getting known and building links to your website and business in a way that you might not have thought possible before.
BUILD LINKS – See above (Quora). Building links that feed back to your website is one of the best ways to rank highly in Google. Answering questions on sites like Reddit or Quora, listing in directories like Yell or Trust-a-Trader or even submitting an article to a leading online authority will provide valuable links that cite your website (and therefore you) as ‘the place to be’ and Google will give you a boost accordingly.
WEBINAR – If you need to communicate with people then there are a host of programmes out there that you could use to set up a webinar (online seminar), a meeting (Skype or Google Hangout) or even a class (Zoom or YouTube for live streaming). Now may be time to think outside of the box and try new things to reach an audience that you might not have previously considered.
MEETINGS – As mentioned above there are plenty of options of platforms to use to communicate with people. To add to above, I have also used Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to speak with people from all over the glob as well as the good old phone. I mean, how many face to face meetings are really necessary? We live in a digital world! Using the internet for meetings are convenient, cheap, save time, save fuel, lower costs and allow us to reach a wider market in less time.
UPDATE YOUR ONLINE PORTFOLIO – You now have more time. This could be because you have lost work through lockdown or social distancing, you’re furloughed, or you have been laid off completely. However, this situation has come about, why not take this time to improve you online presence? There is no negative side to investing your time in your business website, online CV or social media pages. It will keep you in people’s minds for when you can re-establish your business or look for other work.
PRODUCT OR SERVICE DIVERSIFICATION – This may or may not be possible but try to consider if you can offer a different product or service if you can not offer your regular one. For example, in my spare time I teach martial arts. I know plenty of fellow instructors who have taken to the internet and are running classes from their own lounges or gardens in a similar way to how Joe Wicks is ‘the nations PE instructor’ whilst we are all safe in our houses
IN CONCLUSION – it is hard to stay positive sometimes when faced with such a huge yet faceless adversary. I understand that. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have felt like throwing in the towel and getting a job; but for every times I’ve considered folding my business (and I have come very, very close to doing it) I have found the strength to carry through the tough times, come out of the other side and learned a valuable lesson on the way. I can’t see anything that would make me feel that way again now.
I know that there are positive steps to take right now. I know that there are ways to improve online visibility, engagement and therefore customer numbers. It’s just a question of knowing how to do it and having the time to implement findings.
Well, a lot of us have a bit more time now; for the rest, I hope this article has planted a few seeds of thought.
Get in touch if you would like to discuss anything or want to ask any advice.
Good luck and stay safe.