How Search and SEO are Set to Change as Lockdown Eases
May 30th 2020 | By Emma Grant
If the pandemic situation that’s taken hold over the past few months of lockdown has taught us anything, it’s the importance of adapting to change.
We’ve already looked at how a whole host of businesses did just that and took their services digital during lockdown, making the best they possibly could of what could have been potentially precarious times. And at how it’s been possible to use SEO and digital marketing to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus situation.
The past few months have, from a commercial point of view, been all about refocusing priorities, and finding innovative ways to serve customers who still need what we all have to offer. Interesting changes have also taken place in the world of search, where a huge shift in habits has been widely apparent.
How have brands adapted to changes in search trends?
According to BBC News, YouTube says that videos with titles like “how to” and “step-by-step” are being viewed for 65% longer than this time last year, and questions starting “how to…” have increasingly appeared in search trends. Brands have therefore been adapting their search strategies to meet the changing needs of internet users.
Nalina Eggert, an SEO expert at the BBC, said that searches for the likes of “how to make bread” and “how to cut your hair” have been some of the most popular during lockdown.
What happened when the first retail outlets started to re-open?
Up until the recent re-opening of the nation’s garden centres, horticultural aficionados had been widely searching for information on growing plants from seed and propagating vegetables from scraps.
However, as the restrictions were lifted and the outlets started to unlock their gates once again, internet users turned their attention to finding out stock levels; opening hours, wait times and queuing protocol, and enquiring about safety and social distancing measures in place to protect them during their visits.
Searches for “where to buy” certain plants would also become more popular. The best garden centres would be on the ball, adapting their search strategies and web and social media content to service demand and attract customers through their doors.
Which businesses can re-open, and when?
It’s clear then that a search strategy change needs to happen as lockdown measures are eased. Let’s take a look at the latest official line on how that’s going to work in England, all subject to change of course depending on the latest infection rate figures.
- 1st June – all outdoor markets and car showrooms, providing they are ‘COVID-Secure’
- 15th June – all non-essential retailers, including independent shops and department stores
- 4th July (earliest) – pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, hotels, cinemas and places of worship, providing they meet social distancing measures
For all these sectors, now is the time to start re-thinking SEO strategies. Get ahead. Be ready for the swathe of new search queries. Failure to do so could leave you lagging behind the competition. Here’s a helpful checklist for you to follow.
Re-opening SEO checklist
The first thing to do is make a list of the typical questions you’re going to be asked. Here are some examples to get you started.
Questions to ask
- When will you be opening?
- What are your opening hours?
- What are your social distancing measures?
- What is your policy on hygiene, sanitisation and hand washing?
- Do you supply hand sanitiser?
- Will I need to queue? How long will I need to wait?
- Do I need to book? How do I book? How far can I book ahead?
- Do I need to wear a mask or gloves when I visit?
Other questions may be specific to your particular business, such as whether you have certain items in stock and whether certain services are in operation such as toilets and restaurants.
Now take these questions and put together some informative content for your website and social media channels.
Coronavirus lockdown easing task list
Here are some ideas:
- Create a dedicated coronavirus FAQs page on your website and link to it from your social platforms
- Add coronavirus lockdown signposting banners to your home page directing visitors to the information they need
- Add live chat or a chatbot to your website to help manage and streamline enquiries
- Run a live Q&A on your social media channels to address queries in real time
- Add a booking system to your website so you can accept online appointment bookings, saving you time and money on call fielding
- If you run a pub or restaurant, introduce app ordering from the table to reduce footfall at the bar
- Update your Google My Business (GMB) listing with your revised opening hours
- Post latest updates to your GMB listing marked #Coronavirus
Need help getting ready for re-opening?
There’s a lot to do. Search strategies need tweaking. Websites need updating. If you could use some help, talk to Figment. We’re ready to assist with a range of tactics that will help you quickly adapt to the changing search landscape.