SEO Tips & Tricks April 2020 with Specialist Mike Andrew

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, it's time to look at your SEO once more. Discover the top SEO tips and tricks from Localsearch's Head of SEO, Mike Andrew!
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Back by popular demand after the success of Local SEO Tips & Tricks Part 1, Mike Andrew brings us SEO Tips & Tricks Part 2! To help those who prefer to read over watch, we have taken this Live session to create this guide to the top SEO tips and tricks of April 2020.

In this guide, you’ll find how the easing of COVID-19 regulations are affecting search engine optimisation (SEO) and what you need to do to secure your rankings. Also included are Mike’s top tips for adapting your content strategy to the nature of COVID-19.

Top 6 Search Engine Optimisation Trends April 2020

1. 66% of Australians would abandon a self-serving brand during COVID-19.

A recent study by The Havas Agency of 1,000 Australians has revealed 77% of people say they are more loyal to businesses who are serving the community’s needs during the COVID-19 crisis. Two thirds of these people also say they will abandon businesses who have taken a self-serving approach.

What does this have to do with SEO? Consumer behaviours play a big role in rankings. Google is essentially a giant solution provider, so when the questions and requests change, so do the results they give these people. The key to optimising your SEO for the latest consumer trends is providing informational content.

2. Educational content is king.

Optimising content will always be one of the top SEO tips shared by specialists. Right now, Mike says the previously effective promotional content should be shifted to be more educational in style.

Promotional content tends to be self-serving, which can be restrictive in information to serve the purpose of selling. As Google is a solution provider, they want to serve the best possible answer, so the more whole and accurate a piece of content is, the more likely it will increase. To do this, you want to ensure your content is aimed at helping the audience, not with the intent to sell.

By publishing solution-providing content, your audience automatically associates you with being someone they trust for being helpful. In this content, you should also state if they need more information or help, you are there to do so. If your marketing funnel is set up correctly, this will help generate leads naturally.

3. Web traffic, engagement and search trends are up

A lifestyle change instigates new wants and needs. When an entire nation is required to undertake a lifestyle change, this has a massive impact on search trends and volumes.

As we saw in our March/April Social Media Trends Report, industries like home office furniture, IT and steel fabrication have all seen an increase in search volume, as well as takeaway food services. By utilising these trends, you can target the right search terms to help influence your search engine rankings.

4. Businesses who have stopped SEO have drastically dropped in rankings.

During his Live session, Mike discussed the impact stopping SEO has had on businesses who have paused their efforts. Those who have not adapted their strategy have not only missed out on new traffic, they have also lost positioning in their old search results.

Mike also noted those who have seen this decrease will unfortunately find it hard to recuperate their losses on search engines as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

5. Businesses who have continued SEO are reaping rewards.

As you would expect, businesses who have adapted their processes and SEO strategy have been able to meet their audience where search volume has increased. For these businesses, they will continue to reap the benefits of this months after COVID-19 and in the future, providing they keep up with the changing trends.

6. Google My Business is assisting with indexing.

When you publish a piece of content, a Google Spider comes into the page and crawls it to assess it against the current algorithm. It then indexes the website to appear in relevant search results. This can take months to happen.

However, Mike has reported by posting COVID-19 updates on the website’s corresponding Google My Business profile, he has seen very fast indexation, within 20 minutes in some cases. Using GMB, as well as other the other SEO tips in this article will help you improve your ranking potential.

4 Steps to Getting Started with SEO

1. Check for any technical errors.

Running SEO on a website with technical errors is like spending $4,500 on a custom paint job on a car with so many problems it barely runs. The top website errors to look out for include:

  • Slow page speed.
  • Broken code.
  • Broken links.
  • Non-updated platforms and apps.

2. Review your content strategy.

How often are you refreshing existing or publishing new content? Are you solving problems your target audience are facing? Do you have a blog? Is all the information across your website correct?

Once you have reviewed your existing content and put a strategy in place, you will be able to stay on top of keeping your content fresh and regular, both key for SEO.

3. Audit your on-page SEO.

Everything on your website is crawlable by search engines, so you want to ensure you’re looking at every aspect possible.

One of Mike’s top SEO tips is to ensure the content on your website is optimised first, and then look into things like:

  • Optimising your image file, size and naming.
  • Heading structure.
  • Page breadcrumbs and website navigation.

4. Utilise off-page SEO.

Your online presence outside of your website is what helps authenticate the information you publish in your blog and on web pages. This means ensuring you’re listed or publishing on high-authority websites or online directories, like Google My Business (GMB) and Localsearch, and keeping this information accurate. 

For tools like GMB, you also want to ensure you’re posting updates at least once or twice a week. A good process to get into the habit of is whenever you update information or publish a blog on your website, post an update on your GMB too.

SEO Frequently Asked Questions April 2020

Q. Are blogs or pages better for SEO?

It’s crucial to keep your website’s pages and Google My Business profile as relevant and up to date as possible. However, blogs will allow you to provide more resources and reach more people.

Essentially, the more pages your website has, the more opportunities you have to reach someone. The key is to keep everything as up to date as possible at all times.

Q. When should I update my COVID-19 content strategy?

For the next 4 to 6 weeks at least, posting 2 times a week is crucial. As search trends start to return to normal, publishing new content once a week will continue to assist you.

Q. What will happen to my Google rankings after COVID-19?

If you have been active with your SEO and following Mike’s advice of updating your content strategy, your rankings will maintain or improve their results post-Coronavirus. On the other hand, if you have neglected your SEO, you will find it incredibly hard to not only return to your pre-Coronavirus ranking positions, but increase them past this point in the future.

Q. What is the number one thing you should focus on for SEO?

While there are many factors influencing your search engine results, content plays a large role. You always want to focus on providing solutionist content so Google can see you are giving the best answer to a problem or query.

The frequency of your content will also help. How often you post and the length and type of the content depend on the time of year, your business and many other factors, but one to two blogs a week are standard, outside of COVID-19.

Q. How do you know if an SEO agency is legitimate?

Like any industry, there are dodgy SEO agencies out there who are in it for the money, regardless if you get results. The easiest way to pick an illegitimate SEO agency is if they tell you they can achieve specific results. Remember, no one but Google knows what one hundred percent, for sure, without a doubt, what works to increase your ranking and what results you will get, so avoid anyone who says they do.

How you tell a good SEO agency is if they can provide information on some of their work with other clients and what they did to achieve this.

Q. Will refreshing old content help with SEO?

Changing existing content will only help with your SEO if you have a reason to, like updated information. However, ideally, if this existing content is a blog, you will want to republish it as a new blog with the old content and new information.

Q. Will posting images on GMB help with rankings?

Your Google My Business profile lets you have some control over how your business is displayed in search results, other than your website rankings. However, by ensuring your website and Google My Business are in-sync helps Google know how reliable you are for regularly publishing content.

The more often you publish content and Google knows about it, the more they will index your website.

Q. How do you increase GMB rankings fast?

The easiest way to increase Google My Business rankings fast is to ensure your profile is as up to date and complete as possible. This includes filling out your bio with unique content, updating your trading hours, adding your products and services, and posting at least two times a week, minimum.

Q. What are the most important SEO factors during COVID-19?

If you only had time to focus on one SEO factor, it will always be content. While it may not perform as well as it could without other factors, content is what provides the solution to Google. However, you do want to ensure you’re providing a clear path to that content for Google.

Some staples for SEO content is ensuring you have an internal linking strategy, breadcrumbs and good heading structure. You will also want to focus on keyword optimisation, ensuring you do not have too few or too many, as well as providing expert, authoritative and trustworthy content.

Q. Do image names impact SEO?

Yes! Everything on your website can be crawled and indexed by Google, including images. To help Google find and index them easier, ensure the name of the image file is as descriptive of its content as possible.

For example, instead of labelling the below image Mike-1.jpg, you would call it something like ‘Mike-Andrew-Localsearch-SEO-Specialist.jpg’.

Mike Andrew SEO Specialist at Localsearch
Google Whisperer, Mike Andrew during his most recent Facebook Live

Q. How do you reply to a nasty Google review?

You should reply to every review you receive on every platform when you receive them. When replying to a nasty review, you want to respond positively with the goal of helping the consumer.

Before you try and have a review removed, you should know unless it breaches the platform’s review guidelines, it cannot legally be removed. However, it’s not all bad news; negative reviews can in fact help your business.

In 2019, a study on reviews by Trustpilot revealed 75% of people do not believe 5-star reviews are always credible. 55% of people saying they would prefer to buy from a brand with a large number of average reviews than one with few all-five-star reviews.

Q. Should content focus on COVID-19 for SEO?

When writing for SEO, your priority will always be to focus on answering your users’ concerns. Right now, this means addressing questions and queries related to the easing of the lockdown restrictions, not-so-much the crisis content we were seeing in March.

Once COVID-19 passes, your content will then adapt to what the needs of your target audience are at that time.

Q. Can having more than 1 Google My Business account affect your rankings?

You only want one Google My Business (GMB) profile per location, per product. So, if you are attempting to manipulate Google by creating GMB profiles in locations you are not, they will eventually find out and penalise you. You are much better off optimising your one GMB profile.

If you do need GMB help, this is something Localsearch is happy and able to assist you with.

Q. Does SEO affect Google Ads?

SEO and Google Ads do have a very strong connection. Many of the best practices for SEO are also the same factors to influence the cost and quality of Google Ads. Therefore, if you are optimising your website for SEO, your Google Ads will also receive a kickback.

Q. Are PDFs good for SEO?

User takeaways, like PDF downloadables, are great for SEO. By giving the user something tangible to download, it provides them with more information, which we already know is always an advantage. 

In the Facebook Live, Mike also said Google will index both the PDF and the page or blog. He said the majority of PDFs will also rank higher than the original page.

Have another question about SEO? Email us at [email protected]!

Subscribe to the Localsearch Digital Newsletter for the latest SEO tricks, news and more.

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