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How COVID-19 Has Changed Online Search Behaviour (And What It Means for Your SEO Strategy)

It would be an understatement to suggest that COVID-19 has disrupted the business world. The pandemic has shut down entire industries and moved a significant part of the economy online.

Naturally, you would expect people’s online behaviour to change given the new circumstances. What these changes look like or what impact they have had on your SEO strategy can only be ascertained by looking and interpreting the search data.

Needless to say, we uncovered some interesting insights. Read through and learn more about how COVID-19 changed our online search behaviour and what it means for your ongoing SEO strategy.

(And don´t forget to check out our infographic!)

Changes to Search Behaviour During COVID-19

The pandemic brought a period of severe lockdown for most societies, which meant daily life was turned upside-down. Days of the week became irrelevant and our sources of entertainment became focused on a select few choices while gyms, bars and other venues were closed.

Some examples of what we have increasingly been searching the internet for include:

· Yoga mats, dumbbells and other fitness equipment

· Indoor activities

· Free courses

· The best shows to watch on Netflix

· DIY ideas

· Virtual software such as video conferencing tools like zoom

Search term: Free courses

Search term: Zoom

We’ve also been asking our favourite search engine some specific questions, such as:

· How to bake bread

· Where to find online jobs

· How to entertain kids indoors

· How can oil prices be negative

· [Any coronavirus or hygiene/medical/supermarket delivery question]

Surges in these types of searches have resulted in declines elsewhere.

Some examples of what we have decreasingly been searching the internet for include:

· Hotels and airbnbs

· Travel destinations

· Where the best local café with Wifi is

· Perfume

· Heels

Search term: Airbnb

It’s Not Just Search Terms that Changed

But it’s not just what we searched for during the lockdown that is interesting. The same searches as before are now appearing on different days and at different times.

For example, hangover cures were identified as a search term most popular on weekends, but during lockdown these types of searches became spread out over the week as fewer people had a job to attend or a boss to confront. And thus, enjoyed an extra glass of red or a beer during the week.

Google My Business (GMB) Changes

Another key moment during the lockdown was GMB’s decision to pause all business reviews. GMB is a central hub for any business to manage how they are performing online. It will allow owners to receive and review their latest reviews among an array of other functions.

But GMB shut down any capability to leave a review on another business during the lockdown. The decision was taken to prevent any further damage to businesses during the unstable period in the event of negative reviews.

This meant consumers seeking a review online during lockdown may have found it more difficult than usual. You may want to make your latest reviews more noticeable during this review blackout.

What All This Means for Your SEO Strategy

When online searches are rapidly changing, your SEO strategy needs to adapt to stay relevant and so you stay visible. There are multiple things you can do, but your exact SEO strategy will depend on your business and your industry.

Some examples include…

1: Create a COVID-19 Page

You should create a new COVID-19 landing page to inform your customers and site visitors about what is currently happening at your business. Are you open? What services are still available and what disruptions can customers expect? Are there new processes? All of these questions can be answered in a dedicated page.

Why do this? A lot of trending search terms have been adapted to ask questions about COVID-19 or “coronavirus”. Your business can cater to these terms and questions by making a COVID-19 landing page.

2: Be More Vigilant of Search Trends

You should pay close attention to search trends during the pandemic and in its aftermath. Search trends have never shifted so fast and they could do the same when the pandemic settles down. You may want to employ more SEO experts and keyword researchers during this time than you normally would.

Why do this? If you can adapt your content in line with search trends in almost real-time, you can suddenly become visible where you were not previously. It could even be seen as an opportunity to overtake your competitors on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

3: Create Credible Content

Search engines are no longer just machines matching keywords and phrases. They are far more intelligent in 2020 and look for meanings behind words.

There has never been a bigger call to create quality content for your SEO strategy, and this means creating credible content in an age of fake news and unreliable sources. Make sure all your blogs and newsletters only create credible content that does not go against government guidelines.

Why do this? Search engines have been actively trying to remove and relegate content that spreads fake news or misinformation during the pandemic. By making sure all your content aligns with government/WHO guidelines, you can be sure that your site doesn’t get on a blacklist and your content stays visible.

The Verge recently published an informative article about how Google has been stamping out misinformation.

4: Make Your Site More Responsive

You should also engage with your developer to ensure your site is as responsive as it can be, especially if you are a bigger business with a lot of traffic. Make certain that your site has no broken links and is functional across different devices

Why do this? This is something you should do anyway, but during lockdown it may need even more attention because people have increasing time to spare and spend more time online. It could mean your site receives much more attention than normal, especially if your marketing campaigns are still active.

And it’s not just during lockdown either. After the period we could see increasing numbers avoiding public places and staying home, which means your online traffic could continue to increase (if your site is responsive!).

Contact AmeliorateSEO for Assistance

If you are unsure how to approach your SEO strategy now and in the post-COVID world, do not hesitate to speak with our SEO experts at AmeliorateSEO.

If getting noticed online is your aim, then you have come to the right place!

Click here or on the image to view the full infographic.

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