First let me just say, we are still open and actively working with clients. Remotely of course.
These are very strange times indeed. With the spread of the COVID-19 crisis the stock market has tanked, many businesses are closed, and others are discovering remote work for the first time. Also, people are holding on to their money or the stockpiling “essentials” out of fear.
With all this in flux, it is hard to know what you and your business should be doing. For many, it is about weathering the storm, but you should also be planning for the future when it is over.
In the last few weeks, I have been fielding a lot of questions from clients and others about, “what should I do during this time of crisis.” The questions have been centered around marketing since I run a marketing company.
Should we continue to blog and produce content or should we pause for a couple of months?
Should we stop our paid ads campaigns?
I’ve even heard some more extreme reactions.
We should just shut down our website until this is all over.
So what should your business do?
Don’t Go Dark
Let me start with, this last one is the worst option possible. Please, whatever you do, don’t go dark! Google agrees and actually addressed this on the Webmasters Blog, but here are some reasons why to keep your website live and function.
Keep The Lights On = Keep Your Website Live.
First, and to me, the most obvious what not to do. If you shut down your website, then your customers or potential customers might think that you didn’t survive and that the company went out of business. Unfortunately, this may actually be the case for businesses as we go through this crisis, which means people might not question that thought because it could really happen.
In terms of the internet and SEO/search results. If Google and other search engines can’t reach our site or it is completely gone, they will note that in their database and stop crawling your site and it will look to them that your company has shut down. This could then also spread to your Google My Business profile. If your website is gone and no one is actively monitoring your GMB profile they may label the profile as “Permanently closed”. This again sends the message to clients or prospects that your business is gone.
Use Your Website to Clearly Communicate What Your Company is Doing During the COVID-19 Crisis
Add a banner or pop up that lets visitors know what is going on. Maybe your offices are closed but you’re working remotely. Or your physical stores a closed, but you can buy online or reach to sales via email. Or that you are available for pickup.
Limit the Functionality of Your Site
If your warehouses are closed and you can’t ship any products. Consider disabling the cart functionality, but not the whole site.
Now Is The Time To Strengthen The Digital Foundation of Your Business
What is the heart of your online digital presence? Your website! Here are 6 best practices for onsite SEO to secure your foundation.
- Meta tags: Make sure your titles and meta descriptions are unique enticing and relevant to what is on each page. I.e. keywords.
- Page/site speed: Make sure your site is optimized for speed. This can be critical. If your pages load slowly visitors are more likely to leave before they see the page and Google could potentially give you a worse ranking because your pages are slow. You can use Google’s Free Page Speed testing tool to see where you need improvement.
- Duplicate content: Make sure your pages have unique content and you don’t have duplicate content showing on multiple pages. While this is will not cause a penalty it could mean that search engines will just not show your page in search results because they can’t figure out which one is the original.
- Relevant Headings: Headings (i.e. H1, H2, etc) are important to break up content to make it more readable and to define what will be in the copy preceding the header. This is important for readers. And guess what, while they are not specifically looking for keywords, It’s important for Google too.
- Alt-text for images: Add relevant alt-text descriptions to your images. This is what will show if your
- Most of all make sure you are creating useful, timely, quality content.
What Are People Searching For? Follow The Trends
What are people search for in your industry or niche? I know that everyone is searching for information about the coronavirus or news and updates about the crisis and it can be tempting to chase that as a topic to try to get attention. However, don’t get sucked into writing about things that are unrelated to your company or products.
If you sell wallpaper, don’t try to create content about how to make homemade hand sanitizer. While this may get traffic during the crisis, once it is over that content will be relatively useless and not related to what your company does.
Use Google Trends to find what people currently searching for and drill down to things that are related to your industry.
For example, if you run a sports-focused site you could post something about how people can stay fit until they are allowed to play again. Here is an example from CentralPASoccer.com
Content is King – Build Your Content Library.
One thing that is going to help make you stand out from your competitors is your content. Now is a great time to add more content to your library. After this coronavirus crisis passes and things return to what is normal, there will be a surge in search. By adding new relevant content to your site you will be ready for that surge and in a position to attract people searching for your products and services. You don’t want to miss out. Think of it as an investment in your future.
As I mentioned in the previous section don’t get sucked into writing just about the current crisis, make sure you are writing about topics that are relevant to your industry and company’s offerings. There is nothing worse than producing content that ranks well but is off-target and brings the wrong type of visitors. I recently worked on a site that was for helping individuals with cancer find treatment, but their #1 keyword was “turkey burgers.” This hardly seems relevant to their site, right?
Don’t Forget the Data. Your Analytics Will Help Guide You.
Your website analytics are your friend. The insights you can gain from your analytics will help you make decisions based on what is working and what isn’t. Here are a few insights that will help guide you.
- What people are doing on your site.
- Where traffic is coming from.
- What pages are most popular?
- What pages are converting?
- Where people are located when they visit your site.
- What has changed from what used to be the norm?
- Combine this with your Google Search Console data and you can see what topics people are searching for to find your content.
Now is the time to make sure your analytics are properly set up and to take a deep dive into your website.
If You Don’t Have Ecommerce, Start Now!
One of the biggest things that is changing is an unprecedented shift to eCommerce and online shopping. Many brick and mortar stores have been forced to close. If they don’t already have an eCommerce platform this essentially means they have no way to make money. It has no become imperative to be able to sell online.
There are many options to quickly set up at least a simple shopping cart of eCommerce presence. If you don’t have a site you could start with Squarespace they have many templates that have eCommerce built-in. If you’re running a WordPress Site you could add Shopify of Bigcommerce. They are both eCommerce solutions that hook into WordPress so setup and integration with your existing site are much easier.
Simply you should not end all efforts to marketing even in a crisis. If you have stopped your paid efforts, shift that money and especially time to more long term strategies such as SEO and content.
For many right now it is about survival, but if you think strategically you can create ways to help survival while planning for a post-crisis world.
Your data will likely be different than it was previously, this could be good or bad. But by really digging into it you can find ways to plan for a successful future.
We sincerely hope that everyone weathers the storm and recovers quickly from the COVID-19 crisis!
If you need extra support, we are here to help.