We couldn’t really start this month’s SEO round up without answering the question on everyone’s mind at the minute:
‘How is Coronavirus going to impact my business?’
For many, Coronavirus has led to business closures, self-isolation and working from home which has understandably had a huge impact on search data across a range of industries.
So, to start, not a Google update, but a global pandemic that is severely affecting the Search industry. There have, of course, been normal updates that will also be covered in this month’s roundup.
Unsurprisingly, search data is absolutely all over the place at the minute. Whilst sites selling essential products and services are seeing an overwhelming increase as shops close, those selling unnecessary items or that provide B2B services are inevitably seeing huge drops, as businesses close.
So, as with any change to the Search industry, the effects you will feel depend entirely on what you’re selling.
With new restrictions forcing many of us to both work and entertain ourselves within our homes, Google Trends data shows certain products and services that have seen a rise over the last 30 days.
Although remote working and working from home have been on the rise for a few years, industries that never thought they would be able to have had to quickly adjust to this, leading many people desperately searching for supplies.
As people are forced to stay at home, there is an increase in searches for supplies to make those home improvements you never get around to doing over the rest of the year.
A similar trend can be seen over the last 30 days for the term online poker as people find new ways to entertain themselves without leaving the house.
As the government places new restrictions on our daily lives, Google Trends shows internet users frantically searching for Asda opening times to see when they can go do their essential shop. This is a common search trend for all stores that have been deemed ‘essential’ to stay open, although largely on reduced hours.
However, that is not the case for all industries. As businesses are forced to stop their services or users just have no need for them anymore whilst stuck at home, Google Trends data shows certain products and services that have seen a sharp decline in search volume over the last 30 days.
Searches for flights have been relatively low throughout March, with a peak around the 14th, that appears to be due to flight cancellations and tracking alterations to existing flight booked. This very quickly decreased again as a travel ban has been implemented.
With all sports events postponed for the foreseeable future, avid betting fans have not been searching for the latest football bets.
With extra pressures on businesses of all sizes, we can appreciate that there’s a need to focus on the essentials and perhaps prepare for cutbacks as the uncertainty just seems to be mounting.
But what you shouldn’t be doing is cutting your marketing efforts.
If you’re in a quiet period right now, then it is the perfect time to start prepping for your recovery. If your site’s traffic is dropping by the day, you need to make sure you’re in a good position to serve that traffic well once it comes back.
And, let’s not forget, SEO is the free part of marketing so, if anything, is the one part you definitely should be working on.
Follow our handy steps below to keep your customers informed during this pandemic and prepare to make a comeback once it’s over.
Even in lock down, people still need products and services. With the closure of physical stores, people are likely to search online and order delivery rather than go out. If this is a service you can provide, it is important you are found.
If you are a business that is unfortunately selling products and services people do not need at the minute, you need to focus on recovery. If you let all your hard work slip now, when search volume returns, you are likely to have dropped significantly. Make sure you’re in a good position for recovery.
Although not claiming to be related to the Coronavirus outbreak, Google began to surface NHS information directly in search results in mid March. The new knowledge panel displays advice directly from the NHS, which couldn’t have come at a better time really.
Later in March, it was announced that Google My Business would temporarily be removing some of its features due to new restrictions as a result of Coronavirus. The features to be removed were the Reviews and Q&A sections.
Whilst existing ones will still be available, Google will review new ones at a later date. Presumably, this is to ensure accurate information is being posted with regards to the current situation.
As we pre-announced in last month’s roundup, as of 1st March 2020, the nofollow link is now used as a hint rather than a directive. This was the second part to Google’s two part nofollow update started in September last year.
This is seemingly due the nofollow directive being overused, rather than just being used as a method of indicating spam which was originally intended.
This does, however, mean that pages you previously marked as nofollow can now be followed, crawled and indexed. So, we recommend that you have a check back through your nofollow and noindex pages to see whether they need to be kept, updated or removed.
Google announced in early March that 70% of sites have already moved to mobile-first indexing.
By September 2020, the plan is that all sites will have been moved over to mobile-first indicating. Which isn’t surprising considering that over 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices.
Whilst your domain is being switched over to mobile-first indexing, you can expect to see an increase in crawler activity on your site whilst Google updates their index to match your site’s mobile version. Once your site has completed the switch, the mobile smartphone user-agent will be the main crawler you should expect to see has been on your site.
In the meantime, we strongly recommend that you focus your efforts on ensuring your site is mobile friendly. And it’s not only to please Google. As more users convert over to mobile browsing, they will expect to have the same, if not better, experience there as they do on desktop so you need to make sure your site is up to scratch.
So, if you can excuse us for mentioning the dreaded ‘C’ word one last time, it’s not all about coronavirus, there’s plenty more updates you can be focusing on to improve your site’s performance ready for that traffic to pick back up.
In this time of uncertainty, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for help with your digital marketing strategy and see how we can help you to recover.