COVID-19 has created an unprecedented disruption for your business, employees, and your customers. What’s important right now is to maintain your operations as close to normal as possible. We’ve put together a checklist of what you should be doing right now to support search engine optimization.
1. Create a COVID-19 Page on Your Site
This will be the hub of all of your business’s COVID-19 related updates. We did some research into how user search behavior has shifted in response to COVID-19 in Google Trends. We found that there was a large spike in people searching for “[brand name] + COVID-19” in Google Search:
This search behavior indicates that users are looking for any disruption in business. That’s why it’s important to create a page that will rank for this so that your business, and by extension no one else’s, becomes the source of truth with what’s going on in your business.
What you should include on this page:
- Changes to business hours: If your business operates a brick-and-mortar location, note hours of business. If you operate a support call center, note changes in operations there as well.
- Changes to order fulfillment: Let your customers know if there are any changes to when customers can expect their orders or when a product will be restocked.
- FAQ content: Create an FAQ section that addresses common questions that your customers may have related to COVID-19. Optional: add structured markup to the FAQ content so that the questions and answers can be shown in Google search.
Once the page is created, make sure that this page is crawlable and include links to it from the homepage and included in your XML sitemap.
2. Update Your Homepage Metadata
Another area that is easily overlooked is your site’s SEO metadata such as HTML page title and meta description. Google uses these on-page elements in their search result listings for the pages on your site. We recommend updating the homepage metadata as this will be how the majority of your customers will find your site on organic search. Here’s a mock example:
Warning: Please be careful updating the page title. Removing keywords from the page title can have a detrimental effect on your site’s rankings. When in doubt, only update the meta description.
3. Update Hours on Google My Business
If your business operates brick-and-mortar locations, chances are you have a Google My Business profile (whether you have claimed it or not). On all of Google My Business profiles, Google has added a disclaimer stating that “Hours or services may differ”. When users see that disclaimer, they will likely call or check the website to see if there are updated hours. Regardless, we recommend updating the hours especially if your location has temporarily closed.
Once you’re in, go to the left hand menu and choose Info. From there, you can update your hours. If your location is temporarily closed,
there is an option under the section Close this business on Google and select Mark as Temporarily Closed. Be careful not to select “Mark as Permanently Closed”.
For other areas of optimization, Google has provided a helpful guide to Google My Business for COVID-19.
4. Keep Up With Reviews in Google My Business
Although you can’t delete negative reviews, what you can do is to respond to them. This is important as it shows that you’re willing to address any negative reviews and gives others the chance to see your business’s response.
On the flipside, people may also use Google My Business reviews to express their appreciation during this time. Be sure to acknowledge positive reviews as well.
5. Google Posts
Google Posts is a feature in Google My Business that allows you to create short posts that will show up directly on Google search results when people look up your business. Google has recently added a feature in Google Posts to create a Covid-19 update.
Here you can add a quick update about your business and include an optional button featuring different call-to-actions. You can learn more about Google Posts COVID-19 Update feature on Google’s support page.
6. Communicate Using Twitter
Recently, Google has allowed showing Twitter profiles in search results. If your brand’s Tweets are already featured in Google searches for your brand, then this is another great way to communicate important updates to your customers. Below is an example from a search result from Walmart:
If your brand’s Twitter is not being pulled into the search results it will require some work. First make sure that your Twitter name matches your brand name. Then, make sure that your website and all of your other social profiles have a link to your Twitter page. For more help, we suggest following Google’s guide to updating your business information and make sure that your Twitter is included.
This is a very confusing and difficult time.
We hope that this post helps. If you have any questions regarding any of the above or need help implementing any of the recommendations above, reach out to us and we’ll be more than happy to support you during this most unprecedented time.
Atypical Digital is a development and marketing agency that solves business problems with technology. From web design, development, demand generation, analytics, and CRO, Atypical Digital delivers results. Contact our friendly team to chat more about how we can help.