On Tuesday, 4 April 2020, the Head of SEO at Localsearch, Mike Andrew, went live on Facebook with some tips on how to improve your local SEO and optimise your website during the COVID-19 crisis. One thing was very clear; those who invest in their SEO now will not only help protect their businesses throughout the pandemic, but be in a better place than ever on the other side.
To help you do this, we have extracted Mike’s top 5 tips from his Facebook Live event. First, we look at what SEO and local SEO are, and how they have been impacted by COVID-19.
Download the transcript from Mike’s Local SEO Facebook Live here.
Feature Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation, which simply means to increase the quality and quantity of pages on a website to be optimised for search engines, like Google and Bing. The three main focuses of SEO are technical, on-page (including content) and off-page optimisation.
Technical SEO involves analysing and addressing things like the code, page speed and any page direction errors. This can sometimes require a developer. The on-page SEO involves everything from the quality and quantity of content to optimising images, while off-page SEO looks at your website’s external factors, such as links to your site.
What is local SEO?
Local search engine optimisation focuses on targeting search results for your localised area. For example, while an online fashion retailer may target more broad terms like plus-size dresses, a physical store will want to utilise local SEO to target users looking for related terms in their area, like plus-size dresses Townsville.
This is the area of SEO we will be looking at optimising your website for today.
How has SEO been affected by COVID-19?
The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted SEO by the changes in the volume of people searching and what they are searching for. Mike revealed in his Facebook Live how trades have seen a drastic increase in search volume, with searches for ‘Mechanics Near Me’ being up 50% and ‘Plasterer’ searches being up 61% on the week prior.
What people are searching for has also changed during the COVID-19 event. People searching for ‘Can I get my car serviced during lockdown’ has increased week-on-week by 300%.
This has changed how SEO needs to be done.
5 Ways to Improve Your Local SEO for COVID-19 & Beyond
1. Publish optimised content weekly.
There two key reasons to be publishing content at least twice a week on your website:
- You communicate with your target audience, providing solutions to their problems, increasing your trust.
- The regular updating of your website keeps the Google spider coming into your website, maintaining your relevance, making your job easier now and in the future.
The easiest way to publish regular content on your website is through a blog. Simply write a list of problems consumers may be facing, which you can provide a solution to, and write a blog on each of them. Once you do this, push it out to Google and request a recrawl.
Even businesses who have had to temporarily close should be publishing content at least twice a week. By doing this, it will mean you won’t lose your positioning in search results, perhaps even bettering your results. If you fail to keep your website relevant and fresh, you will lose your positioning and it will be incredibly hard for you to make a comeback.
Mike revealed he has been working with a business who has had to close, but due to adapting this content strategy, has been able to increase the number of people coming into his website. As a result, the business has been able to secure bookings for six to eight weeks once they reopen.
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool to help businesses control their information shown on Google, outside of their website’s search results. Businesses should be updating their GMB profile to keep it in sync with their website, showing Google and consumers they are relevant.
To help businesses during these times, GMB have released a few new features, including:
- A temporarily closed trading hour status.
- COVID-19 Update posts.
- Takeout, delivery and curbside attributes for food services.
As well as utilising these features, Mike recommends:
- Posting your blog posts from your website as updates via your GMB at least twice a week.
- Updating your trading hours, if required.
- Not permanently closing your business on GMB as it makes it incredibly hard to reopen the account once closed.
3. Target frequently asked questions.
Mike advises the biggest error people can make with their SEO right now is to not communicate with their audience. A solution to this is posting content at least twice a week on your website and GMB, as mentioned, however, it’s the type of content that’s important.
As mentioned, to build an easy content strategy for COVID-19, write a list of problems your consumers are facing you have a solution for. Then, write an article for each. However, don’t forget answering simple questions like:
- Are you still open?
- Do you do delivery?
- Can you come to my house?
- Do you have any offers?
- How much is it for whatever it is you offer?
- Have you changed anything about your business due to COVID-19?
And so on. When optimised correctly, these questions can show on search engine results with your answer, attracting more people to your business.
4. Use COVID-19 specific schema markup.
Schema markup, or structured data, is code you put in your website to help search engines find and recognise important information. Google has both announced markup to direct them to information specific to consumers about COVID-19. Bing similarly announced special event structured data for the COVID-19 crisis.
However, it’s crucial you are using this code correctly as doing so incorrectly can cause errors on your website. The topic is an entire article on itself, so if you do not know how to successfully markup your website, it’s best to contact an SEO specialist, like Mike.
5. Keep researching trends.
A large part of effective SEO is research and analysis. SEO specialists spend a large part of their day interpreting data and reports, including news from within the industry. They then must act quickly to create, implement and manage a new strategy depending on any fluctuations.
As search engines are ever-evolving, so is SEO. Mike says websites must remain dynamic, and part of this is adapting your strategy to change. To adapt your local SEO for COVID-19, you need to be actively researching and changing your strategy, or have someone do it for you. Seeing the 300% increase to search volume in a week alone for certain search terms is evidence to this alone.
If you do need help, we are here to provide it. Localsearch has announced a Local SEO Relief COVID-19 package, starting at just $19 a week + GST.
Disclaimer: No search engine optimisation work is guaranteed a result. Any results may not be instant and can take time to take effect.