In our final COVID-19 online marketing guide, we’ve chatted (remotely of course) to our SEO strategy team to find out what businesses should be doing during this crisis. SEO is one of the most important marketing channels right now, and taking your foot off the gas could be catastrophic for your visibility when online shopping starts to gain traction again. We’ve been closely monitoring the situation over the last few weeks to identify any industry trends, dips and successes that paint a picture of the new consumer landscape. Here’s what our search experts have to say…
Claire Hunter – Senior SEO Strategist
It’s important to think both long term as well as short term during this time. Right now, you are probably tempted to push all your efforts towards the products that are flying out (cleaning wipes, loo roll, pasta!) which is going to be beneficial – but don’t forget your long term goals either. Try to balance the two simultaneously. Once we start to crawl back to normality, customer demand will change back and people will still want to buy what you were focusing on previously. You may feel like you are spinning a lot of plates at the moment, but try to balance the two. Remember, the things that are massively popular right now aren’t going to be popular forever, so you need to keep your previous best sellers in a good position to come back to.
Chris Foster – Head of SEO
The first two weeks of March 2020 (Lockdown 1.0) seemed very poor across the board. There was a lot of uncertainty at this time and we suspect people were unwilling to spend money, particularly on luxuries. However, since around the middle of the month buying behaviours have normalised. Since getting reassurances from the Government people seem to be more willing to spend money. As time goes on, and people get more used to the situation we expect to see the majority of industries trade as normal.There have been some very unusual ranking variations over the last few weeks. It looked at first like a Google update. However, things have continued to fluctuate, which we don’t often see. We suspect that Google’s AI’s are dealing with the drastic changes in searcher behaviour. Many people have reported higher than average weekend trading, and with the majority of the UK workforce staying at home this will obviously affect online searches. As this behaviour continues Google will start to get a better handle on things, but it may take longer than usual to stabilize. We are continuing to monitor rankings in an effort to better understand these changes
Aaron Pearson – Senior SEO Strategist
As we continue to adjust to life in lockdown, buying behaviours of customers have changed; both online and offline. With many brick and mortar stores forced to close by the Government to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, people, even those who have been reluctant to before, have no choice but to rely on eCommerce. This being said, there are obviously some industries that are performing better now than they ever have done; some businesses are struggling to keep up with demand due to an influx of orders from people looking to fill their time whilst stuck at home. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Acquiro has seen those in the DIY and Homeware industries performing strongest. There’s also those selling products that people are buying to kit out their home offices. Since the announcement of ‘lockdown’ by Boris Johnson, online sales in these industries have increased to levels beyond what they experience over their busiest times of the year, such as Black Friday. However, Black Friday sales tend to die down after the first day (with most sales running the entire week until Cyber Monday) so increased demand is handled efficiently.
With COVID-19 and lockdown, this ‘sale effect’ is continuous so it’s much harder to maintain a fast service; especially with a reduced workforce due to employee sickness and self-isolation. However, there are also some digital agencies taking advantage of the industries that are doing well to show off their client ‘results’, so it’s something to be aware of. Whilst there’s no denying that there are many agencies that work hard and get fantastic results for their clients (like Acquiro) there are some that are claiming their SEO strategy has allowed for a huge increase in sales over the last two weeks. These results look quite unbelievable when they’re shared on platforms such as LinkedIn, but don’t always believe the hype. In the vast majority of these cases, they’re seeing this increased demand due to COVID-19. This is not to discount the work that these guys are doing, as it will almost certainly be having a positive impact on your business in the long run, but these short-term increases are very likely to be due to a temporary change in buying behaviours. For more advice from the experts, why not take a look at our other COVID-19 marketing guides?