The question is in every SEO’s mind arise that“How is the Coronavirus impacting SEO metrics?”
No surprise here. the solution , as always, is “it depends.”
Because search reflects human behavior, COVID-19 affects each industry differently.
For example, even as people are forming lines outside grocery stores, ecommerce sites that sell those self same essentials are likely experiencing a large surge in traffic.
This is also changing as news unfolds. as an example, impressions and traffic for “non-perishable food” spiked when things like social distancing and shelter-in-place were announced.
As SEOs, we’ll got to respond accordingly.
I’ve been able to check out the information for a couple of sites across multiple verticals.
I’m also drawing from the data I’ve seen shared from other SEOs.
Based on what I’ve seen to this point, here are seven ways COVID-19 seems to be affecting SEO metrics, and the way we should always consider responding.
Ecommerce Sites That Sell Essentials Are Surging Up
I’m sure I’m not the sole one that’s seen ecommerce sites (at least those that sell essentials) with huge spikes in impressions and traffic.
That’s coming from people searching for tissue, hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes, thermometers… clearly product searches that are related to the pandemic.
This huge change in demand, have created new queries like “toilet paper near me” and “hand sanitizer near me.”
On the flip side, I’ve seen non-essentials like makeup experiencing drops in traffic, also as products tied to travel, like luggage.
But things that are non-essentials in the future can become essentials the next.
Around the same time gyms also started closing, we saw impressions and traffic spike for things like “ring fit” and other indoor fitness options.
Or how about when employers started mandating work-from-home?
Yep – that’s around same time surges for things like “office chair” and “office desk” started shooting up within the query data.
How to Respond?
Demand is high immediately , but that demand has shifted largely to products that individuals need to avoid and/or affect the pandemic.
Ecommerce SEOs might consider creating a segment of high-demand product pages, based on your impressions/traffic data, to observe closely. Crawl those pages for errors often.
Monitor log files to confirm they’re not serving search engine bots errors. Make them easy to search out in the site navigation.
Watch the query data for those pages to confirm your content reflects the foremost up-to-date searcher intents.
Health & Wellness Sites Are Surging Up
The health and wellness vertical is not any stranger to volatility.
Recently, Google has been cracking down on content that gives advice and data on things like medical issues (a “Your Money or Your Life” topic, in keeping with their quality rater guidelines), holding it to a really high standard.
As a results of COVID-19, the health and wellness sites I’ve looked into are experiencing an overall surge in impressions and traffic.
It looks like that’s primarily being caused by queries like “coronavirus symptoms.”
On the flip side, people seem to be caring more less about things like intermittent fasting.
There also seems to be an uptick in queries for natural remedies like “antiviral herbs,” “antibacterial essential oils,” and “antiviral foods.”
How to Respond
Striving for expertise, authoritativeness, and trust with this sort of content is more important now than ever.
People are turning to go looking engines to answer their medical questions, a responsibility that can’t be taken lightly.
Recipe Websites Appear to Be Experiencing a small Uptick
The recipe websites I’ve been able to inspect so far have experienced a rise in impressions and clicks, although almost as drastic as essentials retailers or health sites.
This is likely because more people are cooking at home as against eating out.
This may still increase the time of restaurants are closed or operating at reduced capacity.
How to Respond?
Use recipe structured data to boost the way your recipes show up in search results to capture a number of that increased demand for recipes.
Consider publishing or promoting recipes that utilize fewer ingredients and ingredients that are easier to get immediately .
Travel Website Traffic Is everywhere the Place:
On the surface, you would possibly think that travel websites are taking huge traffic hits because of travel restrictions and social distancing.
However, I’ve seen impressions and traffic surge up.
My first inclination was that this must be because of people looking to cancel, reschedule, or get refunds for their bookings.
Turns out, it seems to be a small amount more complicated than that.
I’ve actually noticed impressions and traffic surges for queries like “cheap flights” – potentially because with all the cancelations, people are assuming airlines are going to be selling
seats at super discounted prices.
Hotel queries are trending down, especially in areas that are closed off like San Francisco .
Unsurprisingly, it looks like cruise-related queries also are trending down.
The travel industry is diverse, encompassing flights, hotels, cruises etc.
The specific impact is going to vary looking on the world .
Overall though, the travel industry is certainly feeling the impact.
How to Respond?
As Kevin Gibbons said, travel companies are likely largely shifting to customer support and reputation management, not acquisition.
Travel SEOs can help this effort by monitoring their query info. to check where their audience’s demand is shifting, and using that to inform support and PR efforts.
Publisher Websites Are in Incredibly High Demand
This will surprise nobody, but almost every publisher websites are facing huge surges in impressions and traffic.
Eveyone is searching for updates in all forms, from “coronavirus map” to how coronavirus is impacting the stock market.
One thing’s as expected, we’ve all been glued to the news as lately (for better or for worse).
How to Respond?
As journalists still report on coronavirus news and updates, publisher SEOs can give support in a very few ways.
- Watch their log files to confirm AMP pages aren’t serving errors.
- Monitor pages by publish date to create sure search engine bots are crawling new pages as soon as possible.
- Use search data to tell where the general public interest is at any given time.
- Coordinate evergreen content to complete seasonal and news-based volatility.
Restaurants Are Having to Pivot:
While I haven’t been able to inspect any data from restaurant sites directly, the results are apparent.
In many locations, restaurants are at limited capacity.
In many others countries, restaurants and bars are closed completely.
That means queries local restaurants may have relied on pre-COVID are going down.
However, interest in alternatives like “curbside pickup” (an option many restaurants are beginning to offer), goes high .
Third-party delivery services like UberEats, Postmates, DoorDash, and Grubhub are trending up.
Thankfully, those companies are temporarily waiving fees they charge some restaurants so as to assist them stay afloat during this point.
How to Respond?
If you are doing local SEO for a restaurant that’s had to shut because of COVID-19, use holiday hours on Google My Business (GMB) to point that you’re closed rather than removing your store hours completely (tip courtesy of Masaki Okazawa).
Removing hours marks your business listing as "Open Now", which might mislead customers in times of panic.
Volatility Is Present in Websites Across the Board:
Times are uncertain, but one thing’s of course – the present volatility is impacting almost every website I’ve looked into.
In this difficult time, your own website’s data is king.
Benchmarks are often helpful, but confirm you’re watching your own query data.
This will offer you a window into your audience’s needs.
Are you meeting those needs, or not?
At a time when brands are having to scale back their campaign spend, there’s one acquisition channel that doesn’t close up during budget cuts… organic search.
Although things are currently in a state of major flux, SEO is also more important now than ever.