How coronavirus is changing online search behavior and why you need to focus on SEO now
- By SiteImprove - Apr 24, 2020 SEO
We’re currently witnessing unprecedented changes in business and day-to-day life. Offline events and conferences are cancelled, employees across the world are adapting to working remotely, and organizations must change the way they do business and engage with customers.
No one has all the answers about how to best navigate these times of uncertainty, but one thing is clear: businesses will rely more than ever on their digital strategy. By staying informed, using the right tools, and being flexible, you can make the best out of the situation.
It’s now more important than ever to start (or focus more on) optimizing how you generate and deliver digital content. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has always been one of the key aspects of digital content creation. It is a long-term investment, which is why it’s important to build a sustainable SEO strategy.
Let’s take a closer look at what you can do right now to optimize your SEO strategy, so you can continue to fulfill your website - and ultimately - your business goals.
Stay on top of search trends
Staying informed means knowing how online behavior is changing, but also how your website reacts to this changed behavior. It’s clear that no industry is left untouched by the current situation, and online search behavior has changed drastically, from healthcare to finance. Let’s examine some of the key search trends.
Education: distance learning and online education are on the rise, and search trends show ‘free courses’ has been trending significantly upwards worldwide. This is especially relevant to the higher education sector, and it provides ample opportunity to serve this search demand by delivering SEO-optimized content to its audience.
Finance: within the financial industry, you can see the increased search interest in ‘how to manage finances’, from day to day payments, like rent and groceries, to more advanced investment decisions, tax payments, and broader financial education.
For instance, ‘how to invest’, has been trending upwards worldwide. That is a good opportunity for organizations in this sector to provide guidelines on these topics by creating, or adapting, content that would serve this search demand and answer investment-related questions.
Healthcare: on the frontline of this change is healthcare, which is also seeing a change in search patterns. People are actively searching for trusted, up-to-date, and informative content, guidance on how to minimize the risk of getting infected, and how to stay safe and protect their loved ones. Searches for self-care, meditation, and psychological help content have also skyrocketed, as has coping with our changed reality. Interest in virtual healthcare is also on the up.
Public sector: governments and authorities have experienced pressure to push their COVID-19 communications the right way to protect their citizens. Searches for ‘Health,’ and specifically for ‘Ministry of Health,’ are trending up 40% in multiple languages. People are also regularly searching for information about new procedures and instructions from governments around the globe.
How to respond to search trends
By following these steps you will be better equipped to make the necessary adjustments to your content and gain better visibility in organic search results, boost your traffic, and ultimately, achieve better business results.
- Explore search trends: one way to uncover search behavior trends within your industry and region is by utilizing Google Trends. Once you’ve compiled a list of relevant search terms, it’s time to find out how your own website is performing in organic search.
- Keyword research and content optimization: start by checking your results for keywords that are related to your business, and make sure you deliver the right content for those keywords. It’s also vital to ensure that your content is up to date and accessible for users and search engines – this will enhance your brand reputation and credibility. Siteimprove’s content optimization guidelines and issues and recommendation are two features that can be used to speed up this process.
- Competitor analysis: the next step is comparing how your competitors are performing on these keywords and note if they are outranking you for any specific terms.
- Research new keyword opportunities: It’s a good idea to research previously untapped search opportunities. Cater for today’s changing search demands by discovering surging keywords that you can work towards capturing by optimizing content on your site.
Keep your website audience informed
Crafting good quality content has always been a core pillar of any successful SEO strategy. Being relevant and writing with user intent in mind has been known to SEO-conscious copywriters for more than a decade. And that isn’t changing.
What has changed is the intent itself: what is current and what is prominent. That is exactly why you need to give your audience current, relevant, detailed, and credible information about all the operations, changes, and initiatives that your organization has rolled out in response to the global pandemic.
It’s easy to let self-promoting initiatives get in the way of what your users actually want and need. When creating content to match intent during these times, ask yourself:
- Does your content reduce risk and anxiety or provide a sense of safety and belonging?
- Does your content encourage readers to stay motivated and engaged during this time?
- Does your content increase their wellbeing or provide value?
- Does your content give readers all the details they need to stay informed on the topic you’re writing about?
Have a flexible approach to SEO
Adapting to our new reality means overhauling once-familiar routines, processes, and workflows. That is doubly true for SEO-related activities. In today’s environment, you need to reassess your SEO strategy constantly to successfully balance short-term shifts with your long-term strategy.
One way to take the strain – and guesswork – out of this balancing act is by using a tool specially designed for this task. Siteimprove’s SEO Advanced platform features SEO Activity Plans. These plans combine the most important aspects of SEO into one customizable workflow. With SEO Activity Plans you can monitor, optimize, track, and follow the progress of your SEO efforts, and adapt them as needed.
For those who might be unfamiliar with the tenants of SEO, sharing knowledge around the organization – and to those who need it – is simple. Each Activity Plan can be set up in a way that enables you to focus on what matters most at that particular moment, and splits the complex SEO optimization work into smaller, more meaningful chunks.
Spread the good vibes
Organizations are doing things differently now. Being helpful to customers, offering free access to previously gated content, such as online courses and educational resources, and helping customers build confidence while addressing their many concerns have never been more important.
Such “good will” initiatives are extremely well-suited for online reputation management, and spreading the word around them, as well as building links from other trusted websites is a good investment.
Now is a particularly good time to initiate an outreach campaign to build high value incoming backlinks to your website. Your business can stand together - while being apart – with other great organizations and support the world in these uncertain times. The backlinks feature of Siteimprove SEO Advanced can simplify this process, by granting you insights into your backlinks profile and providing you with the tools you need to grow your backlinks strategy.
Technical SEO checks
Technical SEO checks can be left by the wayside – but they’re vital to the overall health and success of your website. Embark on some technical SEO spring-cleaning and revisit the technical aspects of the website that have been deprioritized or forgotten about. Start by looking for the following issues:
- Missing Robots.txt
- Missing sitemap
- Pages not included in the sitemap
- Pages with no follow tags
- Pages with no index metatags
- Pages with broken links
- Redirect chains
- Pages with missing title tags
- Pages with missing meta descriptions
- Pages with missing H1 heading tags
- Images with missing alt attributes
- 404 errors or broken links
- Server errors (status code 500)
- Incorrect 404 status code
A robust, comprehensive SEO platform that covers the technical, content, and backlinking aspects of SEO is an invaluable tool for helping organizations execute their SEO strategy.
By prioritizing issues and recommendations in a way that makes it easy to see what and where the biggest impact would be, Siteimprove SEO provides an extra level of assistance in delivering a successful SEO strategy in times of uncertainty.
We’re all operating in uncertainly right now. Most of us have never faced anything like this before. But one thing is certain: businesses need a solid digital strategy now more than ever before. By staying informed, using the right tools, and being flexible, you can make the best out of the situation and keep your visitors informed and well cared for.