COVID-19 – What you need to know NOW for SEO
Covid-19 isn’t something that should stand in the way of good marketing and SEO work. Your business needs the extra time put into it now. Take this opportunity to get to those “eventually” tasks you’ve been putting off and be patient until things get back to the new normal.
With COVID-19 shutdowns in full swing, Google feels one of their main responsibilities to their users (anyone who searches something on Google) is to give accurate information. They have even created a specific SERP (Search Engine Results Page) dedicated to the ongoing coverage of it.
Now, this isn’t unusual. Google has always said that they want to give their searchers accurate data, and this is especially apparent in an emergency situation.
To ensure accuracy for Google My Business profiles, Google is testing businesses with their software called “Duplex” to check if your business is still open. They are also cross-checking with data from “governments and other authoritative sources”. If they find discrepancies, they can make active changes to your Google My Business pages without your knowledge.
For you as a business, you also need to make sure you have accurate information about your business so that Google can display it. If you have inaccurate information, you will need to go update that in the “info” section.
Be aware that Google does say it can take up to 3 days for any update to go live, though we typically see that go by within a matter of minutes for simple updates like this. If you need to contact Google about a problem you can use a variety of methods. Generally speaking, Google asks to do a variety of other methods before calling them, but any of these can work.
- Google Chat Support- https://support.google.com/business/contact/pre_chat_survey
- Google My Business Twitter- https://twitter.com/googlemybiz
- Google My Business Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/GoogleMyBusiness/
- Request a Phone Call- https://support.google.com/business/…/business_other_problem
- Send an email – https://support.google.com/business/contact/business_general_cuf
One interesting update that you can do right now to help is that you can now add “delivery/takeout available” or “temporarily closed” to the title of your listing.
Update Your Hours/Closures Properly
When updating your hours, use Holiday or Special Hours to indicate closures, especially if you have people who can still answer the phone or do some sort of curbside pick up. If you use the regular hours section, you will have to update it later on. Using special hours allows you to mark the changes to your business for a certain time frame.
Don’t use the “Close this business on Google” section. That is intended for permanent closures, and we would hope that you are only closing temporarily. For now, you can update the title of your page, and in the future, Google will be adding an easier, more clear way to update your page if you do have to close temporarily on the backend of Google My Business.
We would also recommend using the business description and/or a Google My Business post to communicate the most recent updates you have.
- Mark your post as an event to control the length of time that the post is live.
- Set your time frame
- Add event details as the text for the update
- Keep it short and simple
- Use a square photo.
- Use something simple like text saying “COVID-19 Update” with your brand colors
A recent update Google made on Friday, March 20th states that Google will be shutting down basically any sort of reviews/responses and Q&A on your GMB page during this time of pandemic. We will continue to monitor and update our clients as we get more information.
Protect Your Brand
Google is very much the “homepage” of the internet and also for your brand. You need to control that brand image as much as you can. Do this exercise right now. Google your brand name, and ask yourself these questions:
- What shows up?
- Do you have control over those pages?
- Is your message getting out there how you want it?
We’ve worked with many brands, and every time we are able to get your brand optimized on Google, it helps your SEO efforts immensely.
As a business, the best thing you can do to maintain a relationship with your clients is to have the most up-to-date information in a variety of places so people can find it easily.
Your social profiles, Google My Business Page, and website should all have the most up-to-date information readily available. This is true in non-crisis times as well. In SEO we refer to it as “content freshness” and “answering the searcher’s questions,” as both are things Google takes into account in its algorithm.
Search Volume Will Be Different
Notice that we said “different,” not that search volume will be up just because people are now at home with nothing to do. Search volume, rankings, etc will likely change and vary differently on an industry-by-industry basis. Keep an eye on Google Search Console, Analytics, and any rank tracking tools you may use and adjust accordingly.
Most people are going to be using social media much more frequently during this time.
Be Patient, Things Will Be Normal Again
Eventually, we will all be able to get back to our lives again. Things may be a little different overall, but search for answers on the internet isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. You want to be able to capitalize once the downtimes come back around.
SEO also isn’t a short term investment typically. Keeping your SEO efforts on, when others can’t or won’t, will pay dividends. Investing for the long term is an essential part of your business strategy at all times, and now more so than ever. Customers are not going to convert immediately, so you need to be ready to capitalize once things normalize.
At this time, you may not be looking to invest the typical minimum of 10-15% into your business’ marketing and advertising plan to help it grow during this time. You should always be looking at the long term stabilization of your business, which means keeping at least 5-7% of your gross revenue on maintenance for advertising and marketing.
A lot of times, this can be investment into things that will have an impact down the road. There are many things you can do to take those “oh, we’ll get to those at some point” tasks now while you aren’t focused on servicing customers or potential customers.
Here are a few ideas of what you can do with your marketing and SEO budget right now during this pandemic.
Start posting on social media about your company culture!
This allows your current, and future customers, to get to know you better and establish more trust with your “tribe” or following. Share pictures of the work-from-home pet mascots, ideas to cope with the boredom, talk about your values and be relatable. You’ll find that this increases your brand awareness and will have a trickle-down effect on your SEO.
Interview and record experiences from your employees and customers.
You can show and capture their knowledge of your brand, culture, and services. You can use these videos in the future for video content, blogs, social content, etc in the future, or even right now!
Get your assets in order so you are ready for when things get back to normal.
Find out what content pieces you are missing in your content funnels. Have you answered everyone’s questions? Are there good images used? What content or strategies have been working the best? We rewrite and update this content on a regular basis for our clients and then relaunch it with great success.
Host webinars and virtual meetings.
If you are in a B2B space like we are, hosting webinars and virtual meetings give you “facetime” with real people and establish trust for future relationships. B2B is all about relationships and you want others to understand your expertise. It’s partially why we are doing this!
If your business is more focused on B2C, having someone on hand to answer questions right away is critical. You can show off your culture to potential customers of what you are all about. When the time comes they’ll remember that experience and be more likely to convert.
Using a live chat feature can also be extremely helpful at this time, as people are looking to connect virtually with companies now more than ever. Your customer service representatives can continue to be forward-facing agents of the company just through a different medium.
On Instagram, you can also be consistent with stories and other updates to let people know that you are excited to meet them in person once things clear up. Spread positivity, others will respond to that in kind!
Repurpose the great content you’ve already made.
Organic reach can be a gold mine for the discovery of your brand. CoSchedule recently wrote an excellent blog on this. For us, the biggest takeaways are if you haven’t started turning your blog posts into videos, social posts, infographics, case studies, ebooks, webinars, slideshows, you are missing out on reaching potential audiences.
Start with what is most simple for you to do and then continue doing this even once the downturn is over. Creating “best in the world” content is a key strategy that takes time and when amplified, it fulfills exactly what Google wants to do.
Get reviews in places other than Google.
Wait, get more non-Google reviews? Yes, absolutely. Need proof? Look at your Google My Business page. You’ll likely see reviews from non-google places, like Facebook, Yelp, Angie’s List, or other places relevant to your industry and state. You can bet that people see those and look into them. In fact, 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, and they spend nearly 15 minutes just reading reviews before making any sort of purchase decision.
Take the time now to get positive reviews anywhere you can, and once Google opens them back up, get them on Google. Always respond to reviews, it’s part of Google’s algorithm, and it is awesome for client interaction.
You can start now by creating templates for both getting and responding to reviews. Heartwood Marketing offers training in a variety of ways, contact us today if you want some help! We’d love to hook you up!
Fix your website, or consider getting a new one
Not everyone is a developer. Not every developer is a good one. Go skim through your website and make sure it feels up to snuff. Is the design still what you like? Are there pages that can be consolidated or cleaned up? Do you love what you see? Are there pages that feel broken?
If there are enough things that feel off you might consider getting a whole new site. Good websites take time to build the right way, so you’ll want to get started so that when things turn around you are ready to capitalize with a CRO–driven website.
Let Us Support You
Times may be tough right now, but if your business can adapt and push through this time, you’ll be set up for success in the long run. Contact us today and we’ll see what we can do to help you and your business!