If you own or operate a local business, you have probably had to adapt since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, both in your logistics and in the way you attract customers. With the pandemic came lockdowns, working from home, and increased deliveries.
SEO has not been spared. It is more important than ever to make sure that new customers in your local community can find you in search results.
In this article, we will look at 5 SEO tips that will help you boost your visibility online during Covid-19.
Back to SEO basics
Performing online and reaching the top results in Google requires a lot of work on your website, and it starts with the basics. Before getting into some more advanced SEO strategies, let’s take a look at the basic SEO actions that you can take for your local business.
Optimize title tags and meta descriptions
When you land on a search results page on Google, one of the first elements that you will see will be the SEO Title and meta description. Their goal is to describe the page behind the result and to give accurate and concise information to the user.
You can set up these tags for all of your pages in your CMS. Make sure to include your main keywords and to be as clear as possible. It can happen that Google automatically rewrites the title and meta description depending on the query, but it’s still useful to provide as many clear details about your page as you can to search engines.
Improve your load time
Did you know that 1 in 4 visitors will abandon a website that takes more than 4 seconds to load? Page speed really does matter when it comes to user experience. If your bounce rate is high because of an overly long load time, you might have trouble reaching these top positions for your local results. Of course, it might also depend on your competitors’ load time.
If you want to check your page speed, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Enter your website URL, and you will have access to an average score and to several detailed KPIs on your website speed.
Make sure that your site is mobile-friendly
In today’s world, mobile accounts for more than half of web traffic worldwide. The numbers are even more important when it comes to local searches: 78%of local mobile searches lead to an offline purchase.
Therefore, it is very important that you make sure that your site is mobile-friendly. Does your site have a responsive version? You should check this version and make sure that all your pages look good and are accessible from a mobile.
Add a location page
It may seem simple, but as a local business, it is important that you have a clear location page which shows the address of your shop, perhaps a dynamic map extract, and your contact information. These crucial details will be important for both Google and your users.
Create or optimize your Google My Business listing
Having a Google My Business listing is a first step to Google’s search result for any local business. If you haven’t yet created your own GMB listing, it’s pretty simple.
Go to the Google My Business website and create your account. Make sure you’ve prepared various key information:
The address of your business
Pictures of your establishment
A phone number
Social media (if any)
If you already have a Google My Business account, the most important thing to do now is to keep it updated. Google has added several items in relation to the Covid-19 crisis which are always evolving depending on the context.
For example, in September, Google added the ability to add “health and safety attributes” for businesses that are open to the public. It is also possible to indicate to your customers if your business is temporarily closed, if you’re offering delivery or a click-and-collect service.
Consider launching an e-commerce website
E-commerce websites are a great way to sell your products or services online. If your local business doesn’t have an online shop yet, you might consider launching one. You don’t need a super-size budget to add an online boutique to your website, and that would be a great way for you to keep selling your items during lockdown. You could even sell beyond your local community.
There are plenty of plugins such as Shopify or WooCommerce which allow you to easily add an e-commerce function to a website. If you’re not comfortable with website management, I recommend that you reach out to an agency or an independent consultant to help you out.
Make sure to add your keywords in your product or service descriptions and to have a plan in place to manage duplicate content.
Find keywords related to COVID-19 context
Context is always important for keywords in search results. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, the keywords searched for by users have evolved. Let me give you an example:
The first graph shows the search trends for the keyword “delivery montreal,” and the second graph is for the keyword “grocery delivery montreal.” We can see that there was a big spike during the first lockdown in March, then the trend is quite stable and stays higher than it was before the lockdown. It shows that users have probably changed their habits a little bit.
Sometimes these are short-term opportunities. but it can still be interesting to add some context-related keywords in your strategy. Did your city just announce a curfew at 9pm? Maybe that you should take a look at the trend for your keyword with the word “afternoon” or to keywords related to programmable deliveries during the day.
Work on your content
If you feel like you have more time to devote to your overall marketing strategy, now would be a great time to work on your website’s content. If you want to know if Google will index your content, you should ask yourself the following questions: Am I addressing my customers’ questions? Did I use the right local keywords? Is my content detailed and accurate enough?
Google will love your content if it’s qualitative and if it responds to user intent. So it is important to put your efforts into building strong and authoritative content that will be useful to your users and Google. This is a great way to win some positions in the search results over your competitors.
If you already have a lot of content, think about optimizing them with your local and context-related keywords or to make it longer for example. Covid-19 has changed the way we live, so make sure that social situations that are implicitly or explicitly described in your existing content are still viable today.
If you don’t have a lot of content yet, it’s always a good time to write some evergreen content that will bring value to your customers. =
Local businesses have been going through a difficult time since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis. Because so many activities have moved online, developing your online visibility is no longer an option, but a requirement to attract new customers and generate revenues.
The 5 SEO tips above should help you get started and gain some visibility in your local search results. Now is the best time to educate yourself on the latest online marketing strategies and take the time to interact with your local community.