SEO (search engine optimization) has always been important. As a crucial method for getting users to engage with your web content, most businesses are aware that SEO should be part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.
The problem with SEO is that it’s a long-term tactic, and much of the methodology is unclear. There’s no universal checklist for boosting your search results because search engines are notoriously lacking in transparency about the ranking process. What’s more, search engine algorithms are constantly changing, so what worked a few weeks ago might no longer matter at all. These challenges often mean that brands have a hard time prioritizing SEO over other, more tangibly successful efforts.
Today, however, the effects of SEO are clear. SEO efforts are amplified in the midst of a crisis like COVID-19. With more users searching online and fewer options for other marketing tactics to succeed, SEO is proving to be a differentiating factor between brands that are continuing to see engagement during this time and those that are not.
What’s more, organic traffic is volatile right now—many industries are either seeing steep increases or steep declines. Yet, in either case, having a sound SEO strategy helps. If your industry is seeing an increase in search traffic, being highly ranked means more clicks to your page rather than your competitors’. If your industry is seeing a decline, being highly ranked means the few clicks that are occurring are likely to go to you.
This is a key factor in the value behind SEO: no matter what level of traffic your company’s search terms are experiencing, by ranking highly, you’re ensuring that the majority of clicks go to your site.
Google Trends even shows that terms like “SEO” have increased in search traffic over the last few weeks, likely meaning that SEO-lagging companies are finally grasping the importance and scrambling to learn more. Related terms are also trending, like “SEO professional” and “marketing positioning.” These metrics seem to confirm that SEO is in high demand.
If you haven’t been working on an SEO plan over time, you may not be reaping the benefits right now. But, now that you can clearly see the value, you have an opportunity to invest time into SEO efforts that will pay dividends down the line.
[**Pro tip: SEO refers to the concept of search engine optimization, but it’s also often used to refer to the practitioner—the person whose job it is to optimize for SEO.]
What are the benefits of SEO during a crisis?
Compared to other marketing options, working to optimize your search results through SEO is incredibly cost-effective. Unless you purchase a software tool to guide your strategy, there’s no cost involved at all. Unlike running paid ads, hosting events, or working with influencers, for example, SEO is just a matter of putting out great content and tailoring some of the specifics to the items that algorithms are known to look for.
SEO is also critical for long-term growth. If you earn a top spot on Google, you’re likely to stay there for some time. And if you do lose your spot, getting it back is likely a matter of updating content or making small tweaks here and there. This is part of the reason SEO is such an asset during COVID-19; brands that worked to up their rankings months ago are enjoying the high-traffic benefits now, with little to no additional effort today.
In a crisis, building trust with your audience is especially valuable. SEO hinges on that trust. Users tend to believe in Google’s ranking system. Just think about the last time you went to page two (or further) of a search results page (SERP). It doesn’t happen often, because most people assume that Google’s assessment of the top few links is accurate. For your brand, this means that ranking highly gives you inherent trust in the eyes of consumers.
Useful Audience Metrics
By noticing which keywords are trending or which of your site pages are reaping the most benefits from your SEO strategy, you’ll learn what your audience is searching for. You might be surprised at the pages getting the most traction. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to adjust and provide other relevant content.
How to take small steps to improve your SEO strategy
Whether you have an existing SEO strategy or not, now is a good time to revisit keyword research. You’ll want to understand which terms are getting the most traffic and also the terms that have low competition. Note that the keywords you’ve been working around for the last several months may not be the same ones that matter most today. COVID-19 has altered people’s needs, concerns, and search habits, so take a second look even if you think you know what you’re doing. There are many free tools (and many paid tools that are free for the time being) to help assess these results. Once you know which keywords you’re prioritizing, you can move to the next step.
Write Useful Content
The foundation of any SEO strategy is writing useful content. When SEO was first trending several years ago, a common approach was to stuff keywords into an article wherever possible with little concern for how the content would read to the end-user. Thankfully, this is (mostly) no longer the case. Write for your audience—don’t try to write something just for the SEO algorithm. That being said, take into account the keyword(s) each piece is trying to rank for, and write something that will be relevant and useful to someone searching those terms. Educational and informative content tends to work best.
Keep Site Content Up-To-Date
Aside from writing useful content, it’s important to keep your site up-to-date. This might mean updating your main “about” language, revisiting old blog posts that have lost their relevance, or any number of other finishing touches that need a second look. Having timely content is a signal to search engines that your content is accurate and useful.
Prioritize Local SEO
Finally, now is an ideal time to ramp up your local SEO strategy, which means trying to rank for keywords that are area-specific. For a company like Lemonlight, this means terms like “video production company near me” or “video production company Los Angeles.” These local terms can be easier to rank for because they tend to be less competitive. Plus, with the general inability to travel right now, local traffic can be especially fruitful.
As COVID-19 impacts businesses worldwide, we’ll continue to see how SEO can mitigate marketing challenges. With that in mind, now is the time to delve into a comprehensive SEO strategy. Start small if you’re new to SEO, or brainstorm ways to elevate your strategy if you already have one in place. With SEO, there’s always more to learn, but these tips will put you on the right track to achieving the ultimate accomplishment: earning the top spot on Google.