SEO in times of COVID19: 4 tips to focus on
by Josien - 24 May, 2020
Webshops are running at full speed and the search behavior has changed enormously. These are also strange times for SEO specialists, something we have hardly experienced. The COVID19 crisis has a huge impact on the way SEO specialists do their work. I’ve put down some tips to properly do your SEO in times of COVID19.
Forget your seasonal schedule
Each webshop plans months/weeks in advance which products featuring on the home and category pages. That planning may suddenly look very different. Suppose you have planned to link your festival tents more prominently on the homepage in June. You probably shouldn’t have to do that now as most festivals are probably canceled.
January is usually the month of resolutions and everyone searches for “fitness clothes” or “the cheapest gym in my city”. But in times of COVID19, the gyms are closed, everyone is looking en masse for “fitness equipment for at home” or “online work out schedules”, change your SEO strategy toward those categories. You need to flexible and change quickly. It is extremely important to focus on products where demand is highest.
Shift your SEO focus to category pages
Focus on your category pages: consumer demand in these times often starts with short tail keywords and orientation (fitness equipment, jigsaw puzzles, monitors). Advise your consumer with cross-sell options and focus your overview pages accordingly (think puzzle mats for puzzles, ebooks, and e-readers).
SEO: how do you know what is trending during COVID19?
Monitor the data you have in Google Analytics, Google Search Console, internal search function, and CRM data. Most web shops have a wealth of data that they use too little.
Pay attention to things like:
- A higher number of sessions in specific categories (Google Analytics)
- Higher use of certain search terms (internal)
- A higher number of impressions on a certain keyword (Google Search Console)
Try to compare short periods, such as the last 7 days with the 7 days before. That way you can move much quicker and you will not be influenced by products that were super popular 20 days ago but not anymore.
Google Trends should become your best friend if it wasn’t already. Use it to discover new trends (think of the word “virtual beer tasting” or “organizing beer tasting”) to see if interest in certain products is increasing. You can not see such things with a keyword tool such as KW finder, because they only show data from the previous month and that usually are averages.
Then try to structure your webshop based on trends. You can do this by editing internal links and updating content that is now relevant again.
Do you sell travel insurance? Then it is now time to also focus on content creation. According to Google Trends, it has been a trending keyword in Belgium in the last 7 days.
Google Search Console
It is now more than ever recommended to use the “compare tool” in Google Search Console, with which you can easily compare with a previous period.
Where you may have only seen notable changes with a month-to-month comparison, this may already be the case with a week-by-week comparison. During this time, the search behavior of your target group can change per day.
If you select only one KPI (so only impressions, only clicks, only CTR, or only average position), Google Search Console automatically adds a “difference” column to the options for dates. So click on the period/dates, and on the right, a column appears called “Compare”. If you use this column for sorting, you can see the biggest differences (positive or negative) for the period and the metric you have selected.
If you only select impressions and sort them using the compare-column, you will quickly see what Google users are looking for more or less in the period indicated by you. If you do this for clicks, you will immediately see the actual traffic that you have won or lost. This can, of course, be caused by a changed search behavior of your target group (use Google Trends), but also by competitors who are optimizing considerably, which increases their organic rankings.
Follow the media
The media currently has a huge influence on customers’ behavior. Is it true that acetaminophen is better than ibuprofen? Then suddenly everyone starts hoarding on Dafalgan and Paracetamol. Is it in the news that the trampolines are almost sold out? Then everyone goes online looking for trampolines to be sure not to be late. If a complete lockdown should follow, you can expect a rush on elliptical cross trainers and treadmills for all athletes..
So try to follow the media in a certain sense and respond to this by linking products in the news more internally.
Certain products sell out in no time and these are usually products that score very well in terms of SEO. This makes stock monitoring even more important. Where you used to only do a stock check in the morning, it is best to do this every hour.
Be careful when using out-of-stock markup, you don’t want to see “out of stock” in the SERP. That will negatively impact your CTR.
Conversely, stop displaying “In stock” before it is actually sold out in the structured data. You can also manually have the page indexed by Google if you are unexpectedly sold out and Google still shows that there is stock. Unfortunately, there’s only a limited amount of URLs that you can request per profile in Google Search Console.
What if you only have a few visitors now?
It can happen that your webshop is in a certain niche that now receives a lot less attention. I notice this especially in B2B webshops and big purchases such as furniture.
Do you have a few visitors on your website now? Invest in your technical SEO in times of COVID19. Many large organizations are now cutting back on marketing expenditure. By getting a head start on your competition you will soon reap the benefits of this investment.
You can take that lead by continuing to technically optimize your website and take a fresh look at your existing content. Once the economy has started again, you immediately have a head start. In addition, marketing campaigns, including link building, can now be negotiated tighter.
You can also spend more time on content. Write more, create more, make a content strategy for when the economy picks up again. Be ready to get that content stream going!