An unexpected rise in the number of online businesses and what that could mean for your Google ranking and online visibility.
By Karlie Plowman - Techno Bird
25th March, 2020
Right now, the world is in a state of shock, adversity, uncertainty, and tragedy as we, as a whole, battle Coronavirus/COVID-19.
Businesses are shutting down either temporarily or permanently. People are losing their jobs. As a result of this, people and businesses are doing 2 things:
1. They're taking their businesses online
2. They're getting innovative
Suddenly, businesses that didn't have a strong online presence are now putting their full focus on improving it; they're getting that website that was half-finished or finished but neglected for a long time, done. They're spending more money on paid advertising, they're stepping up their social media marketing strategies, and they are now realizing the huge role/importance that SEO plays in getting found online.
I think it's awesome that more businesses are going online and realizing how important SEO is, but this now poses some new concerns for businesses that were already online, ranking well on Google who had worked really hard on their SEO to get found online - they suddenly have a shit tonne of new competitors who are nipping at their heels to take their position on Google, coerce their website traffic over to them, click through to their websites and get those conversions.
Did you think you were nice a comfy there in your Google position? It's time to get your game-face on.
Times are a-changin! And like, now. Yesterday, even.
Here's how I see the formula playing out:
👉🏼 MORE BUSINESSES JOINING THE ONLINE BUSINESS WORLD = ⬆️ INCREASED COMPETITION IN SEARCH ENGINE RESULTS PAGES (SERPS)
FUN FACT NUMBER 1: 🛒 E-commerce websites DOUBLED between mid February and the second week of March, 2020
👉🏼 NEW ONLINE BUSINESSES WANTING QUICK RESULTS/TRAFFIC AND HIGH CTR'S (CLICK-THROUGH RATES) = INVESTING BIG💰ON PAID ADVERTISING (GOOGLE ADS AND/OR PAID SOCIAL MEDIA ADS)
FUN FACT NUMBER 2: 💰 E-commerce ad-spend jumped from 4.8 million to 9.6 million from Feb 17th to March 9th.
👉🏼 NEW ONLINE BUSINESSES QUICKLY LEARNING HOW IMPORTANT A ROLE SEO PLAYS IN ORGANIC TRAFFIC, SO THEY'RE INVESTING IN SEO HELP (KEYWORD RESEARCH, SEO STRATEGISTS AND MANAGEMENT, PRODUCING GOOD CONTENT & CONTENT MARKETING BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE TIME TO LEARN IT THEMSELVES AND WANT FAST RESULTS)
Why do they want it all so fast? Because they're in panic-mode.
Businesses are freaking out (and rightly so) because they're facing closures, reduced trading hours, having to let staff go, loss of income etc. So the faster they can get results, the faster they salvage businesses and livelihoods (or what's left of them 😞.
So, with all these newbies coming to the online world, (welcome 👋🏼 newbies, if you're reading this!) or making a bigger effort with their online presence, it's (probably) going to result in a few things for businesses already online and with a good Google presence:
- Possible drops in your current Google rankings
- Possible decreased CTR's
- Possible decreased website traffic
- Possible decreased conversion rates on your website
I bet you're making this face right now - 😮, or 😟, or 😩 or all of these and more. It's a stressful thought that all your hard work in getting your website optimized for SEO, investing in digital marketing and building your tribe online, could about to be given a run for your money.
BUT BEFORE YOU REACH FOR THE 🍫,🍷 AND THROW YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR, this doesn't mean you're done'ski - in fact, you have an advantage over newbies because you have a longer Google history, you have had more time to build your SEO strategies, drive website traffic and build your online communities, and this doesn't go unnoticed by Google.
So what should you be focusing on right now to try and keep your Google ranking and website performance ticking along during this time? Here's my advice:
1. Audit your website's technical SEO & keywords
Now, more than ever, having the right keywords and having sound technical SEO is of HUGE importance. I mean, it always was, but it's now become an urgent thing.
Making sure you're using the best keywords for your business/website to attract the 'right' or ideal website user/customer/client to your website from SERP's. And once you do, making sure they're inserted into your website where Google wants them to be - your technical SEO and your website content.
If you haven't done any keyword research for your website, or considered technical SEO, or haven't re-visited your keywords and technical SEO in some time, MAKE THE TIME NOW.
2. Audit the content of your website and UX (user-experience)
Is your content up to date and relevant to your business as it stands today?
Has your service offerings or products changed but this isn't yet reflected on your website?
Are there any site errors and broken links?
Is your website easy to navigate?
Is your website easy to use? Does it flow well? Can people find what they're looking for quickly and without confusion?
Something that hasn't changed is the fact that people want instant answers - they don't want to wait for your 8-second website to load, or click a million buttons to find the product they're looking for, or read about your life's history just to work out what you actually do...
Re-visit your website content and UX, update the content if needed, create some new landing pages if needed, hide some non-performing or no longer required pages if needed; ensure it's relevant to TODAY.
3. Re-visit (or commence) your SEO strategy
Look at your Google Analytics and Search Console; how have you been obtaining website traffic in the past? Where are they coming from? What pages of your website are they frequenting or not-frequenting?
How can you keep that traffic coming or increase that traffic - do you need to invest in paid advertising, boost your social media game, send out an extra newsletter per month... are you in front of your customers mind?
What are you doing to increase brand awareness? How are you gaining in-bound links (getting other websites to link to yours)?
Do you/could you pivot your offerings, even if just temporarily, to suit today's climate and service the needs of people during this time of change?
It's time to focus on all of these things and consider upping your SEO game - at the rate of new businesses joining the online world, you really can't afford not to.
HERE'S 3 TOP TIPS TO MANAGE YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE AND KEEP CUSTOMERS UPDATED IN A TIME OF CRISIS
👉🏼 Update your Google My Business page/account
- Trading hours changed?
- Are you still open or closed?
- Do you have a new address?
Inform people of changes to your business contact details and status - update this regularly if needed. This also goes for any listings you have on Yelp, Yellow Pages, local directories etc.
👉🏼 Update your websites FAQ page
- Quick answers to common questions asked by your website users will result in a good user-experience - which is good for SEO, AND you increase your chances of Google featuring you in Rich Snippets (the white box in SERP's with quick answers to your query you put into Google - see below image for a visual guide.
- Your FAQ's will also need to be updated if people are likely to ask questions around your operational activity during COVID-19; have your timeframes changes, have your shipping policies been adjusted, are you open/closed - think about the types of questions people could ask you right now that are both common, and relevant to the current climate.
- Maybe you should create a dedicated page on your website that addresses your business status and operational movements during COVID-19, depending on how much content you need to add
👉🏼 Update your customers on products/service availability
- Either via your social media, EDM's, event pages, booking systems or all the above. The point is, keep them informed, but don't bombard them with daily emails, they're already experiencing this and my bet is that unsubscribe rates are steadily increasing!
AND LASTLY - MONITOR, ADJUST, MONITOR, ADJUST, MONITOR, ADJUST...
Make it a regular habit of monitoring your Google search rankings, website performance, and SEO performance, and adjust your plan if you feel it needs it, based on the stats. Make Google Analytics and Google Search Console your business besties!
HOW CAN I HELP YOU?
For Keyword Research & Technical SEO - check out my Keyword Research & Technical SEO Plan service here
Or if you want to browse all of my SEO services - click here
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