Throughout the pandemic, people have had to face challenges they never saw coming and make changes in all areas of their lives.
Even as I wrote this and more people are receiving the vaccine, the effects of COVID-19 will be felt for a long time yet.
A lot of these changes brought on by the pandemic may become permanent fixtures, as we’ve had to reevaluate every aspect of our lives and businesses.
SEO professionals are no exception.
One unexpected offshoot of COVID-19 has been that more businesses have realized the benefits SEO can provide.
Google Search interest in SEO spiked at the onset of the pandemic to its highest level ever and has remained strong as companies try to stay relevant, visible, and viable.
Here’s a look at 4 other ways SEO has been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
People Are Searching for Pandemic-Related Topics
Even after a year, COVID-19 top of mind for many. We’ve all many questions over the past year, and there’s a lot we’re still asking today.
Access to this accurate, timely information is critical, which is why Google has prioritized making this easy for users to find.
If you look up various questions about the virus, Google gives you various reliable sources right on the first page, such as an overview of cases in your area, statistics, testing information, how to cope with the pandemic, and news updates.
Interest in topics that aren’t necessarily related to the virus itself — hobbies, music, fitness, and outdoor activities, for example — also gained traction as lockdowns and restrictions have continued.
People’s lives have changed significantly over the past year, which has led to many picking up new interests and needing different resources to help them through.
Businesses can find new ways to provide valuable content or services to their audience that will get more attention now than in the past.
Understand your audience and keep up with what’s trending so you know how to provide valuable content that people actually want.
More People Are Searching for Local Businesses
There’s no doubt that local businesses have suffered due to the pandemic.
While keeping a business running is more difficult than ever, many people are still looking to support small businesses in their area.
Travel restrictions and supply chain issues have made local businesses the safest and most convenient options for consumers, in many cases.
This isn’t going away, either — an Accenture survey found that 84% of respondents plan to continue shopping in neighborhood stores or buying more locally sourced products than before the pandemic once it’s over.
This makes local SEO an extremely important investment for small businesses.
You want to make sure you’re showing up when people are looking for places nearby to fulfill their needs.
Local business information has changed fast and furiously throughout the pandemic.
For example, many businesses that allow people to visit their physical location have had to adjust their hours to make time for additional cleaning and cut back on their hours of operation.
They may also have had to include more information about curbside pickups and deliveries if they offer these services.
People are going to continue to look for businesses that offer take-out, BOPIS (buy online, pickup in-store), and other contactless services.
Keep your Google My Business page up to date to make it easier for potential customers to find what they need and do business with you.
Local businesses also need to be sure their websites are up to date and contain any relevant information about COVID-19 that can help users.
Keep the website and online listings up to date ensures that Google can trust the information circulating about your business and that consumers have a good experience when trying to do business with you.
Online Shopping Is More Popular
If you weren’t shopping online before the pandemic, you’ve probably started in the past year.
At various times over the past year, nonessential stores have had no choice but to close up shop.
And even as those stores began to reopen, they’ve found that many people still feel more comfortable online shopping instead.
Stores may also have to limit the number of people allowed in at one time, reducing the sales they might make. Not only has online shopping been the safer choice, but many people have realized it’s often more convenient in general.
According to the Global Connected Consumer Index, 28% more consumers are shopping online weekly than before the pandemic.
Why leave the house if you don’t have to?
This makes now the time to open up an ecommerce store.
An ecommerce store makes it easier for stores to continue to do business even when many people aren’t leaving their homes.
However, you can’t just set up shop online and wait for the customers to roll in.
Check out these product page dos and don’ts and ecommerce SEO tips to help kickstart your online store’s marketing strategy.
Evergreen Content Is Increasingly Important
With so many uncertainties, some might think that paying for SEO or doing the work themselves isn’t worth it at a time like this — especially for businesses that have had to close temporarily.
However, the truth is just the opposite.
Businesses can, and should, use SEO – particularly content – whether it’s new content or updating existing pieces even if they aren’t operating like normal.
While targeting COVID-related keywords is important, it’s not the only way SEO can help businesses.
Topics involving the pandemic might be trending right now, but they won’t always be.
One of the best benefits of SEO is that it provides long-lasting results. This can sometimes seem like a downside since it can take months to get results, but that can be a huge value at a time like this.
Evergreen content can help a business long into the future, and now is a good time to work on this.
Many people are also not able to make a lot of purchases right now, but they’ll still benefit from seeing this content and eventually, they will be ready for the next steps.
The pandemic forced us to make changes, but it’s also proved how important SEO is for businesses — especially small, local businesses.
As we rely more on the internet than ever before, SEO is a vital resource for businesses that want to be discovered and sell online.
Make sure that optimizing for search is a part of your digital marketing strategy even —and especially — in times of crisis.