Despite COVID-19 spurring exponential increases in internet usage, web and mobile-based traffic has hit new lows for certain businesses. Listening to experts who argue that now is a better time than ever to invest in search engine optimisation (SEO) could help enterprises looking for positive results in these tough times.
A report by US-based search marketing company WordStream said investment in SEO does not simply increase website traffic, it delivers qualified traffic.
WordStream states, “This means that the visitors who are finding their way to your website, in the face of opposing trends, are most likely very interested in what you have to offer. In this sense, SEO can help you identify highly qualified leads for your business, even if only to nurture [them] in the future.”
The report argued that for businesses to stay relevant, SEO is vitally important in standing out and being chosen over competitors in search results, especially during the pandemic lull.
“SEO is about gaining trust from search engines. The only way to achieve that is slowly, over time, through consistent output. Because significant gains from SEO don’t typically happen until three or so months down the line, there is plenty you can be doing now that is worth your while,” the report added.
A study by SEO toolset company Ahrefs concurs, finding that top 10 search results average two years old, with top-ranked sites averaging three years of age.
“In fact, only 22 percent of pages that currently rank in top 10 [search results] were created within the last year,” it said.
Another popular business hack within the SEO sector is the posting of content that doesn’t just follow current trends. Known as evergreen content, it is effective because while trend-centric content postings decline in search results over time, relevant content is less likely to go stale and keeps traffic flowing steadily.
The Digital Marketing Institute (DMI), which offers digital certification globally, says that evergreen content continually drives traffic to sites, positioning a brand as an industry leader and connecting it with quality audiences that actively drive prospects towards a brand’s sales arms. However, DMI also added that creating original evergreen content is difficult and, as such, investment is required to ensure it can compete. “The difficult part of evergreen content is that usually the most popular industry topics have already been covered, maybe even hundreds of times. In this case, a unique spin on a topic is essential as is the addition of long-tail keywords that have a decent amount of traffic, but not as much competition. This makes content more valuable and more likely to move up in search engine results,” it added.
The WordStream report also notes that while website traffic is down currently, the pandemic has opened up digital avenues to new audiences.
“Traffic to many websites from search engines may be down, but the overall traffic to search engines is not. People who used to listen to the radio on their commute are now checking Google for updates. Older generation consumers, who used to rely on their caretakers for answers and news, are now using voice assistants to get [the information they seek].”
Not only has our already-growing reliance on search engines accelerated during COVID-19, but already-advancing search platforms are also skyrocketing ahead. This makes SEO an even more mission-critical pursuit for businesses down the line.
The report also stated that SEO is particularly important for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) amid the pandemic, as locked down populations turn to local businesses to spend their money.
“With so many businesses closing down and with people unable to venture far, local search optimisation is crucial. If you’re not open now or able to provide services, you should still optimise your business to get found by people. ‘Open now’ searches have been on the rise since the pandemic began,”it adds.
Large Tech companies are also looking to support SMEs during the pandemic.
A report by Dentsu, the Japanese international advertising and public relations company, and the fifth largest advertising agency network in the world in terms of global revenues, said: “While the resulting acceleration in digital adoption, exemplified by the massive growth of online commerce revenue, has created a massive opportunity for the bigger mar-tech players in the market, it has also instilled in them a sense of social responsibility and urged them to contribute to the containment of the economic impact [across societies] of the crisis by creating premises for recovery and differentiation in the post-pandemic world.”