COVID-19 has proven to be one of the biggest challenges we have faced in the last century.
According to the World Health Organization, more than one million people have been infected with the virus, while the death toll has been increasing at a fast pace as well.
As countries rush to find a solution to curb the spread of the virus, more than half the world’s population is now at a standstill.
Non-essential businesses have closed in various parts of the globe. People are restricted to their homes. At such a time, shopping is not on the minds of many consumers, not to mention that deliveries of most items are halted.
Currently, collected data showcases that both online organic traffic and conversions are down for most businesses unless you operate in an essential service industry. This includes food, healthcare and media.
Does this mean as an eCommerce business, you should halt your investment in SEO at this time? We suggest you don’t do so. Here is why.
1. Competition Has Never Been Lower
As the world grapples with the economic impact of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown it has caused, many companies have witnessed a contraction in their operations. Marketing is no longer the priority of many businesses.
If you’re considering short-term solutions, reducing marketing activities and costs might seem smart. After all, why would you invest in something if it gives you no immediate return?
However, the key here is to think long-term instead. Remember, the pandemic isn’t here to stay. We are bound to get control of it, sometime down the road. And when we do, the demand for non-essential items and the eCommerce sector will witness a spike. Being ready for that hike is a much smarter decision than focusing on the current lack of demand.
As many businesses divert their time and investment from SEO, now is the best time to invest in it. Because it means you will get a better ranking, with much less effort and cost. And by ensuring a respectable ranking today, you can guarantee you will be one of the first businesses at the top of search engine lists when target consumers are ready to shop.
2. SEO is Measurable
As the marketing manager of an eCommerce store, one of the biggest challenges you’re likely facing is rationalizing each penny you spend. Now is not the time to overspend, but when you do decide to spend your marketing budget, you need to be sure you can measure the success of the investment.
As companies undergo significant budget cuts, marketing goals must be amended. Rather than boosting awareness or trying to differentiate and position your brand, now is the time to solely focus on consumers who have existing buying intent. After all, they are the ones most likely to purchase from your brand during such times.
You can also prove the success of the investment. How? By looking at the number of visitors on your websites or the sales made. This will help you to alter your budget according to changing consumer behavior as required. During such uncertain times, reactive marketing that mirrors consumer behavior is the key.
How can you change your SEO strategy to align with evolving consumer behavior?
For instance, let’s say analytics tells us that users that search for a given keyword have stronger buyer intent than those who search using other keywords. This insight can be used to optimize the content for the right keywords to ensure better ranking.
3. Scarcity and Shortage Drives eCommerce Sales
No one will forget the kind of frenzy the US witnessed over toilet paper. Who would have thought that such an abundant and easily available item will become so scarce so quickly? Generally, when things run short, people resort to searching for them online as was the case with toilet paper. All terms toilet paper related had witnessed a surge in searches.
So post-pandemic, when things return to normal, there is a high probability that demand will outstrip supply. The current reduced production in the manufacturing sector, means that when the need to purchase increases there won’t be enough products for everyone.
As items become more scarce, consumers will be searching for alternatives online. Depending on what your eCommerce store specializes in, you are likely to witness an increase in sales if you optimize your website with the most searched keywords of scarce items.
Research current trends and the predictions of what might be considered scarce items and begin working on improving your search engine rank for topics around them.
4. Digital Marketing is the Only Effective Tool Right Now
The masses are stuck at home. No one is out there to see your marketing communications on billboards. No one can be part of your below-the-line activities. Considering the high cost of print ads, those too are no longer feasible.
How can you reach your consumers?
You can do so via digital mediums. Even companies that haven’t previously used digital channels are now gauging the effectiveness of them. Your consumers are stuck indoors with unlimited internet connectivity and smartphones and so your target market is browsing online now more than ever before.
By investing in eCommerce SEO, you can ensure your brand is remembered by customers. For instance, you can start a blog to share your experience of the impact of COVID-19, the recent updates you’ve found helpful and how to stay safe.
Make sure to only cite credible information. This method will help you to play your role in ensuring the safety of the masses, while also carrying out subtle branding efforts.
Make sure never to use the pandemic as a promotional tool. Don’t be insensitive or exploitative. Instead, serve to help and you could witness a surge on your website, which might transform into sales once we return to normalcy.
Verdict: Invest in SEO Smartly
All in all, don’t halt your SEO strategy completely. Instead, invest in it smartly so that you can reap returns later on. COVID-19 has changed the economic world and we will feel these changes for years to come. The best one can do is strive to cushion the blow as much as possible. Acting proactively today can help in doing so.