20 SEO Tips for 2020: What we learned during the pandemic


The coronavirus has thrown the world into a tailspin since its outbreak at the beginning of the year. Everything came to a stop – businesses and schools have closed down as mandated by the government.

Many businesses – big and small – have been greatly affected by this pandemic. In fact, many businesses have already filed for bankruptcy. And for those that have not filed, many are trying their best to stay afloat. But there’s always a workaround even in these trying times. The truth is, digital marketing strategies like SEO can help businesses thrive during this pandemic. In this article, we are listing  20 SEO tips that we have learned during the pandemic.

1. Is your business “essential” or “non-essential”?

Let’s start by identifying the nature of your business. Is your business in the “essential” or “non-essential” category? First, it’s necessary that you’re aware of this status for general operational reasons.  This understanding is also needed for positioning your SEO properly and targeting the right audience. 

Essential businesses: 

  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Convenience stores
  • Healthcare services
  • Hardware stores
  • Gasoline stations

Businesses that would not be categorized as any of the above are considered non-essential. Many businesses that are non-essential have been required to close in order to adhere to the social distancing mandate.. 

These businesses need to observe and follow guidelines and ensure that they actively communicate with their customers on their websites and social media. It’s so important to regularly keep them updated with the status of your physical store and the ways in which are are conducting your business during this pandemic.  

2. Adapt to shifts in search behavior 

Regarding the status of businesses as either  “essential” and “non-essential”, consumers’ search behavior has also changed accordingly. Businesses like grocery stores or pharmacies have seen an increase in search interest for their business names and products that they offer. 

Conversely, businesses that are “non-essential” may be experiencing just the opposite as, at least initially, there was a shift in consumers’ priorities.

If your business is “non-essential”, closely monitor Google Trends and use other keyword tools like Ahrefs to understand the ever-changing shifts in  consumer behavior due to the impact of COVID-19.

3. Provide content that can help them cope with the stress of the pandemic 

Staying at home can take a toll on some people as most are at home unable to to continue with their everyday lives. Provide them with content that can help them cope with stress while observing lockdown limitations..

For example, since gyms are still closed, you can provide home workout content. You can also provide content on activities that can be done at home like gardening, sewing, and more. Since many are at home in isolation, create content that will encourage them to pursue their long-time dreams or pursue interests long neglected in their previously busy lives.

Millions of people have lost their jobs during this pandemic so any content offering links to sites offering remote working opportunities would be welcome.  

4. Create targeted content to attract new users

Since the start of the pandemic, consumers have turned to online resources for almost everything. School, meetings, and even shopping has now been done almost exclusively online. As a brand, it’s your chance to capture these new potential customers as more consumers flock to the virtual world.

Create more concentrated content to attract new leads. Engage with your customers or visitors, and learn about their interests during this time of the pandemic. Then, create content that will pique their interests.

5. Build your website content or blog

Users turn to you for guidance in this time of uncertainty. Although coronavirus-related content is still in demand, don’t forget to build your site with your own content related to your brand. Mind you, this will be content that will not lose relevancy as time goes by.

Give time to build your site with relevant topics such as the following:

  • How to’s
  • Tutorials
  • Guides
  • Reviews

6. Stay on important trends 

Monitor important trends in news and social situations. How exactly does this help you? Staying on top of relevant search trends can help you create more targeted content that will interest your users. 

For example, see below the search volume for “toilet paper.” You can see that it reached a peak in March during the first part of pandemic news and potential lockdowns when everyone was panic buying.

Below is the search volume for “back to school.”  Many schools are opening their doors – whatever the setup. As you can see from the Google Trends below, search volume has shot up.

This sort of data can be used to write “back to school” content including the essentials needed to keep your children safe while at school. Or you can create content about what is needed for students as they begin their online class journey.

7. Backlinks are the key

Although amazing content matters, backlinks are still key to ranking high in the SERP. A backlink is when another website uses you as a web source. The more you have, the more Google will deem you as a reliable source.

Let’s say, you’re just a small-time business, how are you going to have as many backlinks as possible? 

For starters, you can make use of blogger outreach services. Tap into bloggers who will feature your products/services with a backlink to your website. These bloggers are already talking to your target audience! So, it would be very easy for them to convince their followers to give your website a visit or give your products/services a try.

There are third-party link building services that can help you gather high-quality backlinks to your site. You can use this link or manually search online for companies that offer these kinds of services. Discuss what kinds of links you want to obtain and the strategies they will be using. 

8. Clean up & optimize website 

Now’s a good time to do some cleaning! But first things first; do some research. Check your content and run some analytics on which articles/content are ranking lower than others. Here’s what you can do for those articles/content:

  • Add-on or update the title
  • Create an inviting meta description to entice more visitors to your website
  • Update the content and add more helpful data for your visitors

There might also be a bit of content that might need an overhaul. Or, you might want to update your website design to make your page more attractive and interesting to visitors.

But as for the content that’s doing well? You can show those articles/content some love! Update the information, add high-quality images, spruce up your data. You’ll be surprised to see your article move a rank up!

9. Video marketing

Let me tell you this: users can’t get enough of online videos! In fact, online videos will be 80% of online traffic by 2021. Many videos are now ranking high on the SERP. And even though there are already tons of videos out there, 43% of people still want more video content.

So, if video marketing isn’t part of your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on great opportunities!

10. Take advantage of local SEO 

Since more people are staying at home, local SEO is now even more important. Make content that is concentrated on your locality. For example, a list of restaurants in your area that offer free deliveries. Your content can include maps or local search queries.

And perhaps the most important part of your business’ local SEO is its Google My Business profile. Make sure that your GMB profile is up to date as this will be the primary source for your Google Maps, Knowledge Panel, and Local Results Listings.

These listings provide details of your business such as a complete address, operating hours, contact number, and more. This allows users who find you on Google, to assess you, and connect with you – right off the search page.

Furthermore, you should make sure that your GMB profile is updated with the latest COVID-19 info. Real-time and specific information on your GMB profile helps customers understand if you’re open for business and in what ways.

11. Prioritize top/mid-funnel content initiatives as consumer spending changes

The coronavirus has changed the way people spend their money. Products/services that are essential are now their top priority. And with that in mind, businesses must invest in top/mid-funnel content. 

Top/mid-funnel content reinforces the expertise, authority, and trustworthiness signal to your customers and search engines. These types of content can help users shift back to the awareness stages of their buyer journey. 

Some of the top/mid-funnel content that you can produce are high-quality videos, newsletter, and whitepapers.

12. Ensure FAQs are updated regularly

If you want to rank high in the SERP, you need to provide informative and helpful content. That’s why you need to update your FAQs regularly. Update new data, include better stats and replace outdated information.

13. Featured snippet optimization

What is the featured snippet? It is the answer to the user’s search that is in the box. This snippet is displayed in Google SERP. It has been taken out from the top-ranking pages for the particular search. The featured snippet usually includes the page’s title, URL, and the short answer to the query.

A featured snippet looks like this:

Featured snippets take clicks away from the pages in the #1 spot. Currently, 11.52% of searches have featured snippets. If your page is ranking in the top 10 for a particular keyword, there’s a big chance that it will get to the #0 position – with a featured snippet. You can optimize your content to have featured snippets. There’s a paragraph snippet or list snippet, depending on your content.

14. Voice search optimization

Voice search has become “the next big thing” in digital marketing even before the pandemic. According to this source, 41% of adults make at least one voice search a day. With this stat in mind, more and more online pages are adapting to this change. 

Google tends to source out a page that is ranking at least in the top 3 spots. So, if you have content that’s already doing well, you can optimize it for voice search. Include a question/answer portion in your content so when a user searches via a question, your answer will immediately come up in the SERP.

This is another reason why it’s so important to update your FAQs regularly.

15. Reoptimize old posts with newly relevant content

If you want new content, don’t look too far! You can optimize your old posts. The good thing about SEO is you don’t need to always create new content. 

Because of the sudden shift in search trends, there might be previously-dormant topics that are considered timely now. You can check if there are old posts that could be spruced up with new details and featured on your page to drive more traffic.

16. Make use of long-tail keywords

Most of the time, there will be tough competition among popular keywords. If this happens, go for long-tail keywords. If done properly, this SEO tactic is proven to help you rank higher on the SERP.

First, what are long-tail keywords? 

These keywords or key phrases are more specific – usually longer than the commonly used keywords. Long-tail keywords are queries that have low individual search volumes but have a huge search demand as a group.

To demonstrate, the picture above shows the search demand curve for the keyword: cute cats. 

As you can see from the graph, the keyword “cute cats” sits on top of the curve. The long-tail keyword “the cutest cat in the world” sits in the middle of the curve. While “the most adorable cat ever” and “what cat breed is the cutest cat” are at the end of the tail. 

Long-tail keywords are unpopular ways to search for a topic – most of the time they are too specific.  But there are several variations that would likely work very well and up the search volume. 

17. Make long-form content

There’s no denying that life for some people has slowed down. They are more into well-researched, complete, deep, and meaningful articles. They’re not necessarily just sitting there anymore and scrolling through whatever’s online. 

Long-form content now dominates page one of the SERP. It produces a higher search ranking. And not only that, long-form content is more entertaining, engaging, and informative. Also, it’s actually better for SEO.

In the graph by SerpIQ, you will see that content in the top spots is at least 2,300 words. This goes to show that Google prefers richer content. 

But just to be clear, Google doesn’t rank a page just because of the word count. Clearly, long-form is correlated with better search rankings, but there are other factors that can help you rank higher and have been made possible because of long-form content.

18. Include cleaning and care instructions for your products

If you’re a type of business that sells any physical product, you must include cleaning and care instructions on the product details. Yes, it is a MUST! With all the new concerns surrounding health and cleanliness through this pandemic, people are constantly searching for methods for keeping certain products clean.  And many people are making it a top priority to use these products as soon as they arrive in their homes. 

19. Google knowledge graph

Have you ever seen this on your Google search results? If so, then you have experienced Google’s Knowledge Graph. But what is it and how does it help with SEO?

Google’s Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base of objects and the relationship amongst them. Objects could be people, places, things, institutions, and intangibles like feelings, emotions, and so on.

Objects are connected by edges that describe the relationships between them. Google then stores these real-world data which will help it correlate, understand, and make use of the true meaning behind every search query. With this, Google can give out more relevant results to the users’ searches.

How can businesses use this to better their SEO strategy?

Google’s Knowledge Graph is beneficial to both users and SEO. Users will get more specific and relevant answers to their queries and SEOs produce more traffic. 

One of the highlights of this is that search results display more brands, products, and entities. Thus, more visibility! But what does this do for you?

For example, when you search for the “best electronics companies to work for”, it displays more logos and brands in the SERP. 

Once your brand can get onto the Knowledge Graph, you’ll get visibility, possibly even authority, and trust among the searchers. You might find your business popping in the SERP if someone searches a topic within your niche.

20. Image SEO

A picture paints a thousand words.” 

Unfortunately, that doesn’t apply to Google. However, it does add color to your content, especially the long ones. It helps show an idea, or illustrate a graph for example, to help your readers understand your content better. 

Simply add high-quality images to your articles. You can provide your own images if you choose. But there are also sites that offer royalty-free and high-quality images like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pexels to name a few.

And since visual search is also getting increasingly important in the digital marketing world, Image SEO could also boost your traffic. 

Conclusion

Your website traffic may have declined during this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn that around. Now, more than ever, is the best time to position your business in the search engine rankings. Hopefully, especially through such a time of uncertainty, these SEO tips will help your business move forward productively and profitably.

Daniel Martin loves building winning content teams. Over the past few years, he has built high-performance teams that has produced engaging content enjoyed by millions of users. After working in the Aviation industry for 9 years, today Dani applies his international team-building experience in LinkDoctor to assist in solving his client’s challenges. Dani also enjoys photography and playing the carrom board.

20 SEO Tips for 2020: What we learned during the pandemic

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