During this pandemic, internet usage has climbed dramatically. Time on social media is exponentially increased, driving CPMs down (and getting you more for your paid social dollar). Video views and completions are up, an indicator that this is an increasingly preferred way to receive information or entertainment. And time on websites, particularly with news and information is up. (In the case of MLive.com, content views are up more than 200% and time spent within articles themselves up nearly 110%.)

But what does all this mean for SEO? How much time or effort should you be spending on this tactic? In short, there has never been a more important time to be visible to searchers online. Businesses doing SEO should keep going in order the maintain or improve results.  Those which aren’t should consider it. But if budgets are increasingly tight and you can only do the minimum, do what you can.

Businesses that are highly visible to consumers in search will be in a better position to provide services or products now.

Consumers still need daily essentials from groceries and pet supplies to household products and even some essential services. They also need help with their changed routines, such as home office furniture and supplies. They want to be entertained, educated, connected, and comforted.  And your business can be the answer to the questions they are asking in search.

One of the most important ways to be visible online is through organic search results (not the paid search ads but the regular search results in the middle). Just over 45% of Google searches on desktop and mobile (combined) result in clicks to non-Google websites such as a business site, and about 41% of those clicks are from organic search, according to a 2019 study by Organic search helps most when customers are researching and considering alternatives, and paid search helps most as customers get ready to take action.

Big Picture: businesses that retain their overall visibility online will be able to rebound faster when things get back to normal.

For businesses that are ready, here are some SEO tips for getting and staying visible online.

Retool your site for currently available offerings

Businesses which cannot operate their retail stores or offices but can do pickup and/or delivery have a way to continue making money, with some effort.

Avoid sliding backwards because SEO was stopped

It’s the law of entropy – things like links and business listings naturally break down over time. Only consistent work on regular basis will maintain a website’s authority and relevance.

Take advantage of slackening competition

With many businesses slowing down or stopping their SEO during this time, those that keep pushing will outpace them in just a few months.

Continue to reach customers with buying intent

Having good rankings in search results is the best way to reach consumers with buying intent. More than 40% of clicks from Google to business websites are from organic search results. When combined with the fast visibility Paid Search provides, businesses are well-positioned to get higher conversions.

Keep local presence strong

Changes in hours or available offerings need to be correctly updated in Google My Business and other listings. Getting this seemingly small piece wrong causes poor location trust from search engines like Google, which impacts local search rankings.

Invest in the future

SEO isn’t something you can simply “pause” and resume later without disruption. There is a lag effect after the work is done to a website before it shows up more prominently in search.  Continuing to work on content and backlinks will stabilize search-based revenue months down the road.

Once people have returned to work and can travel, there will be enormous pent-up demand as consumers start making those purchases they have been putting off. Having a prominent place in search results means being considered earlier and more often.

Companies that focus on these details will find opportunity even in challenging times and for a long time afterward. Adjust your strategy for a successful future, keeping today’s needs in mind for your customers.

Excerpts contributed by Sylvie Dale, Advance Local

Need more coaching?

No one believes it’s “business as usual,” yet you may not know just what steps to take to pivot during this unprecedented time. You aren’t alone, and we know you need answers fast. Join us for a FREE WEBINAR, called “Marketing During Times of Uncertainty.” We’ll be hosting this webinar twice weekly until it’s no longer needed.

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