Should we continue with SEO through the COVID-19 Crisis?
When sales and enquiries largely dry up, as they have for many companies in recent weeks, it’s a natural reaction to pull up the drawbridge and go into hibernation mode.
Without cashflow, many businesses don’t have any choice but to cut budgets and lay off or ‘furlough’ staff in order to conserve funds.
Marketing as discretionary spend
In difficult times, one of the first areas to come under the spotlight is usually marketing.
It’s often classified as a “discretionary” budget which can be switched on or off without overly impacting on the operations of the business.
Yet, if you’re one of the lucky organisations that has some cash in reserve, our suggestion is to reconsider that decision.
Staying visible to your existing and potential customers, and Google
One day, when we’re through this crisis, the organisations who make it through will be wanting to get back to business as normal…fast.
There may be a scramble, a period of time when competition for customers will be intense as businesses re-establish themselves and battle for a share of (what might be a much reduced) market.
Who’s going to be ready? Who will be successful in getting their operations back to normal?
We think that the businesses that keep themselves visible are likely to have a better chance than those that have been hiding themselves away during the crisis.
There are many ways to maintain a level of visibility and brand presence during hard times.
Among them, SEO – search engine optimisation – will help your website get found by potential buyers looking for products and services like yours.
Should we pause our SEO activity?
It depends on many things. Your sector, business, products and services, what your competitors are doing and, of course, your budget.
If you’re still operating, it’s worth considering keeping things ticking over during the crisis because, though it may not feel like it now, things will return eventually.
In addition, Google is unlikely to be stopping crawling websites and indexing pages, and at the same time, your business competitors might well be continuing with their SEO activities.
By stopping altogether, you risk ‘losing out’ in the search rankings and falling behind competitors, dropping down the positions or (worst case) out of results.
So: it’s better to continue in some shape or form with SEO than just cutting it completely.
Any other suggestions for SEO during COVID-19?
Moving onto more general points, you might want to think about these few do’s and don’ts.
- Focus on the essentials
Concentrate on pushing your core and essential services or products during this period. For the moment, don’t place so much emphasis on your luxury or premium products and services, or those that you can’t properly resource or support at present.
- Adjust your content and language
Take a slightly different approach to your normal ‘promotional’ marketing messages, recognising the strange and perhaps difficult times your customers are facing. Maybe give your customers something fun to do and optimise for it such as a quiz, competition, or video – anything to help pass the time.
- Create relevant content
Write a blog to address Coronavirus-related questions about your business that your customers might be asking. Are you still trading? How should your customers get in touch with you? What are you doing about future business? What is happening to orders already placed? Have your trading hours changed?
- Communicate via your website
Consider putting a message on your website home page containing some of the above information.
- Update Google
Make sure your Google Business Listing information is up to date and doesn’t indicate that you’re open or operating, when you’re not.
- Review and prepare
Monitor how visitors are interacting with your website and use this to prepare for future disruption. Look at which product or service pages are especially busy and consider stocking up or applying resources to these areas.
- Stop campaigns which may appear to be insensitive
Look at any of your existing paid advertising campaigns and assess whether it is sensible to temporarily switch them off. Unlike organic SEO, paid traffic can easily be switched back on at the click of a button.
- Profit from COVID-19
If you try and capitalise on COVID-19/Coronavirus searches that have nothing to do with your business, you’re more likely to put potential customers off. You’ll also risk getting penalised by social media channels and YouTube.
- Worry about reduced traffic
There’s no need to get into a panic about a sudden drop in traffic on your website from March 2020 onward. All your competitors are probably experiencing the same thing. Instead, take this time to make sure you onsite SEO is fine-tuned so you’re ready to get back up to speed quickly when restrictions are lifted.
- Continue with ignorance
We strongly advise against carrying on any marketing or SEO activity as if everything is business as usual. It’s not, and your customers, especially those directly impacted by the Coronavirus will not thank you for claiming that everything is normal.
If you have any questions about your SEO or paid search please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are working from home during the lockdown, but are working hard to help businesses and other organisations with their marketing and communications. If you’re working from home too, why not take a look at our tips for working from home.