The Ideal SEO Game Plan to Adopt When Business Faces a Temporary Closure or a Slowdown Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

In just three months, since the coronavirus COVID-19 was first diagnosed in Wuhan, China, the total number of confirmed cases has exceeded 8, 58,000 with more than 200 countries and territories around the world fighting desperately to limit the spread of the infection. With the more than 42,000 deaths already, this disease has had a far-reaching impact on the lives of people all over the world whose only concern at this point of time is to stay healthy and survive till the pandemic blows over. According to https://www.huffingtonpost.in, there have already been over 3000 deaths in America alone due to this novel virus. As may be expected, the disease has also had a devastating effect on the economy with businesses undergoing a massive slowdown and the focus entirely on the delivery of essential goods and services. With production and logistics in complete disarray, owners of businesses, especially small and medium businesses are increasingly facing the prospect of either shutting down their operations or running at far below normal. As may be imagined, this has enormous implications on your SEO strategy and the rankings that you may have spent years labouring over.

A good look at the options available to you to preserve your SEO at this critical juncture:

What Should You Do If You Need to Close Your Business Temporarily?

There are many reasons why you may be facing total business disruption at this time when the COVID-19 disease has reached pandemic proportions. You may not be getting the raw materials, you may not be able to dispatch the finished goods, there might not be adequate staff to run the show, or you may simply be in a business sector that simply may not be featuring in the list of essential goods and services but rather depend on discretionary spending by the customer. Some good examples of this are the leisure and vacation sector, luxury goods, dining, and hospitality, or even yoga mats and reproductions of paintings. Regardless of the reason that has forced you to shut down your business, for the time being, it may be inadvisable to disable your website completely because according to Google themselves, even a shutdown of just a few days can result in a huge loss of online search visibility. Even if you are shut for business, you still need your potential customers to be able to find you and continue learning about your products and services so that demand can be revived immediately you open shop after things normalize. When you shut down your site completely, getting back to speed can become far more difficult as the website has to be indexed again and may even result in verification failure of the Search Console and a reporting data loss.

However, if you do need to take down your site fully as the last resort option, Google recommends using the Search Console Removals Tool. If the shutdown is planned to be short, you should display a 503 Service Unavailable code, however, if the takedown is longer, you should have a homepage placeholder that is indexable using the 200 HTTP code. It may be better to limit the functionality of the site and display a popup or banner explaining how the pandemic has affected your operations and that you are confident of resuming business as usual soon. Do keep in mind the guidelines issued by Google regarding the display of banners and pop-ups to ensure that the user experience is not compromised. While you can use Google My Business to mark the temporary closure of your business, you should also change your structured data to show event updates, temporary closures, and availability of products. It is recommended that e-commerce sites adhere to the guidance on availability on Google Merchant Center and also disable the shopping cart functionality, if necessary. Using the Search Console, you should also request Google a recrawl of the site updates, according to a leading Kitchener SEO Company.  

What Should You Do If You Need to Reduce Your Digital Marketing Efforts?

When you are faced with an abrupt and unexpected loss of business revenues, it can set you thinking about how to maximize efficiency and curtail budgets, however, this could have multiple ramifications on your digital marketing. Some key aspects, you need to be conscious of:

Know that the analytics data is possibly skewed: It is more than likely that many employees will be working from home during these trying times, however, while this is great for keeping your business rolling, remote workers will not be caught by the typical filters unless they are using a VPN or similar remote connection network. Essentially, it means that the analytics metrics will include the remote workers even though a filter had been created earlier. It may be worthwhile placing an annotation in the analytics account and keep it in mind while measuring and reporting the impact of your digital marketing. 

Keep your focus on the ROAS: If your product or service is not deemed to be essential in the midst of the epidemic, it may merit trimming your budget for PPC because overspending may make even the most profitable marketing campaign turn negative in terms of return on ad spend (ROAS). However, smart marketers will also appreciate that when the demand for target keywords is down; the cost is also likely to fall significantly. You should also look to maximize your ad spend if your company is making products that have demand during these times. Whatever, be the situation, you need to keep an eagle eye on your ROAS. It may be more effective to switch to manual bidding from Smart Bidding to be able to keep on top of the dynamism experienced in CPMs and CPCs. With more of your target audience now at home, even your social media marketing efforts can be tweaked to increase its reach. 

Maximize email marketing: Since email remains as cheap and effective as before, you should consider choosing to put in more effort in email marketing when forced to reduce your paid search. Email is also a wonderful channel for reminding and reassuring customers that you are ready to ship online even if the brick and mortar store may be shut. It is good to keep in mind the increased customer sensitivities in the current situation and avoid hard sells or promote special deals focused on the epidemic.

Conclusion 

The disruption in business due to COVID-19 is a harsh reality and businesses will need to learn to live with its impact in the near term and for some time thereafter. To ensure that your business manages to perform at its best, you should focus on organic traffic generation using SEO while conserving hard cash for more essential functions. Focusing on creating useful and relevant content can help direct more eyeballs your way and sustain the demand for your products and goods. 


Also published on Medium.

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  • Joannasuter

    Nice post…… Thank you for sharing a informative information with us.