Most everyone knows by now that COVID-19 is causing some very difficult and uncertain times. Being a business owner these days can be especially challenging when you have the weight of the future, your employees, families, customers and your business all on your shoulders.
In trying to navigate this challenge, many business owners seek to lighten the load by cutting costs and focusing on the essential. When this happens, generally marketing is one of the first things to go. While this is an understandable reaction, it may not always be the right approach for your business. Even if you are tight on budget, resources or time due to the COVID-19 outbreak, investing a little bit of time and energy into your marketing may not only help you maintain your current customer base and attract new customers if possible, but it will also prepare you to beat out competitors and seize the opportunities that will come with the economic recovery.
Internet marketing and maintaining a high quality online presence through SEO (search engine optimization) can be a great way to invest a little time in your marketing that will continue to impact your business in the coming months.
With that, here are five ways to help your SEO during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Update your Google My Business
Google My Business is a key way to maintain touch with your customers and make sure they are up to date with the most current information about your business. If you have reduced your store hours, make sure that your Google My Business listing is updated with your revised hours so customers that want to make a purchase know when your store is open. Nothing is more disappointing to a customer than showing up to a location expecting to be able to make a purchase and finding your location is closed when it was listed as open online.
Also, if you have closed temporarily due to the pandemic, make sure to update your listing as well. Don’t simply delete your store hours, instead consider using the holiday hours function to indicate you are closed or have special hours during this time. If you are unsure how to update your Google My Business (GMB) listing, this article from Google may help.
You can also consider expanding your usage of Google My Business to capitalize on features that can help maintain touch points with your customers. Consider reaching out to current or past customers asking for them to submit reviews of your business during their down-time at home. You could reward them for this with a coupon for a discounted purchase when the downturn is over. You may also consider setting up texting features in Google My Business so that customers can message you or you can send them update messages. If you are unsure how to do this, consider visiting Google’s GMB support page to learn how to set up the messaging feature for your listing.
Update your Website with any COVID-19 material
If you have sent out an email to your customers about any coronavirus updates, make sure that the message is also posted on your website. You can post it as a blog post or as a new page on your site. This will allow customers to find any information they are looking for regarding your business and the pandemic including any updates as they come. The most important thing you can do for your customers right now is to make sure that they can easily find the information they are looking for.
Revitalize your Website
Consider investing a little time in making sure that your website is functioning currently and that it has up-to-date content. Google rewards websites with higher rankings in search results if the site has content that is high-quality, fresh, and unique and more likely to be of interest and help to searchers. Make sure that your company information is up to date, that all your forms work correctly, that your site is easily navigable and user friendly and that users can find what they are looking for, both now and in the future. Doing this will give you an advantage over competitors that have let their website presence slip for a while and will help your business recover faster and attract new customers in the recovery.
If your website is functioning properly and is up to date, you can also consider adding new content to your site focused on key words that customers may be searching for, both now and in the future. Adding high quality content to your site over time will help you show up higher in search results for keywords relating to your business. You could consider adding this new content as a post on your blog or as pages on your website. Working from home is a great time to write blog articles to prepare to give your customers the information they may be looking for now and in the future.
If you aren’t sure what information your customers would like to see consider looking into the keywords your customers are searching for. You can use Google’s free tools such as Google Analytics and Search Console to understand your website data and the keywords you currently show up for. This can help you know what content may be helpful to write. Consider asking an SEO (search engine optimization) expert for help if you aren’t familiar with these tools or would like further help in understanding your website data. Many agencies, including Sebo Marketing, will help you set up these Google tools for free. If you aren’t sure how to write a high quality article for your site you can also ask an SEO agency for help or consider using an article writing service. One of our favorite article writers that we use is https://jamiascreative.com/.
Use Your Social Media
In times where the customers may not be able to come to you, you need to go to where your customers are. While quarantined at home, many customers are increasing their use of social media and you can capitalize on this to maintain touch points with your customers. Make regular posts on your social media pages and keep the tone of your posts positive rather than focused on panic. Having uplifting content in your social media will help customers remain positive during what may be a stressful time for them as well. Not only that but your messages will help them have a positive image of your business. People remember how a message makes them feel, and their perception of you and your business will translate into value later on.
You can also use your social media channels to drive traffic to your website since you can’t get them into your location. Your website is where customers can learn about you and your business and the exposure to your content will increase their likelihood of purchasing from you now or down the road. Driving traffic to your website through social media will help you generate cash from any purchases your customers can make now and more importantly will help you build a customer base for later on when even more customers will be wanting your product.
Use Correct Strategies for your Google Ads Budget
Pay-per click advertising or PPC, especially through Google Ads, is often a great way to drive traffic to your website. However, during difficult times many businesses tend to cut back or stop using Google Ads to reduce expenses. This is understandable and sometimes necessary, however be careful that it does not hurt your business in the long term and that you create an alternative online marketing strategy.
If possible, consider avoiding decreasing your budget or stopping your Google Ads unless your Conversion Rate is dropping. If searches/traffic to your site drops but you still convert at a good rate, don’t decrease your budget or turn off your ads (unless your business is closed). This is important because you only spend your Ads budget when someone clicks on your ad, which means you only pay for customers who are likely interested in your product. If the likelihood of that person converting (your conversion rate – ex. making a purchase or filling out a form) has remained the same despite the pandemic, you will still likely want your ad to be showing so that customers can find you. Otherwise, you have cut off your business to many potential customers who are interested in your product, searching online and would have found your ad and made a purchase had your ads not been turned off due to budget.
However, if your site is a lead generation site (ie designed to get people to fill out forms or provide you leads of potential customers) and you are not currently able to help these people or capitalize on these leads, then consider the value of generating new leads and of advertising to customers. You may be spending marketing dollars without generating any revenue because you can’t help your interested customers and even though this may be good exposure for your business, you will still need to determine if the cost is worth the exposure.
If you aren’t sure what the best strategy is to take with your online ads consider reaching out to a digital marketing agency who can help you know what to do. Or if you currently use a digital marketing company to manage your online presence, make sure that you reach out and discuss with them your online ads strategy and what will be best for your long term business. Your digital marketer should be contacting you, but if they have not already done so, consider reaching out to them to get their advice and create a strategy and plan for success.
During difficult times, the most important thing that you can do for your customers is to make sure that they can get the information that they need when they need it. This will help you build trust and maintain your current customer base as well as attract new customers in the future. Make sure as well that you are investing a little bit of time in your marketing efforts that will help you to succeed in the long run. A little bit of effort goes a long way and will help you gain advantage over your competitors to help your business survive and thrive even amidst the economic challenges of COVID-19.