The “Don’ts” for SEO in the Wake of COVID-19 – Tyson Stockton // Searchmetrics

Episode Overview: The COVID-19 pandemic is proving unpredictable by the day, and it’s tempting to change your plans with every new development that arises. It’s important to find stability and avoid making knee-jerk changes that could quickly turn into pitfalls. Join host Ben as he continues New Buyer’s Journey Week with Searchmetrics’ Director of Services Tyson Stockton as they discuss what SEOs should and shouldn’t change during the Coronavirus pandemic.



Ben:                  Welcome to New Buyer’s Journey Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro. In this week we’re going to publish an episode every day, discussing what you need to know to adjust your content strategy in a post-COVID outbreak world. Joining us for a New Buyer’s Journey Week is Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ director of services. Searchmetrics is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions. Outside of shepherding Searchmetrics’ most strategic SEO clients to SEO success, Tyson is stepping in for a sick member of his team to talk to us about the new buyer’s journey. So far this week, we’ve talked about how the Coronavirus outbreak affected consumer behaviors. We talked a little bit about which industries were the most impacted by the Coronavirus. And yesterday we talked about what you should be doing to reconsider your buyer’s journey.

Ben:                   Today we’re going to continue the conversations talking about what you shouldn’t touch and what you shouldn’t change in the wake of the Coronavirus. Okay. Here’s our fourth installment of the New Buyer’s Journey Week with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ head of services.

Ben:                   Tyson, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Tyson:              Thank you, Ben. Let’s get into the don’ts.

Ben:                  Look, we talked about what to do. You’re exactly right today. We’re going to talk about, there are some things that have changed with the buyer journey. Obviously we’re living in a brand new world. There are some things that are still the gospel of SEO. Let’s talk about what not to do when you’re rethinking your buyer’s journey.

Tyson:               I think we’ve had several conversations. I’ve been a pretty strong advocate of companies to invest in technical SEO during this time, as well as content but the reality is just a lot of companies are dealing with limited work hours, maybe smaller staff. So something has to give, and you don’t necessarily have the luxury of just doing everything under the sun. Within content specifically, I would say one of the things you should be avoiding is not having like a one size fits all approach. So being hyper-focused into the categories or areas, whether it’s upper funnel content or it’s specific categories within your ecommerce skew portfolio. So I think it’s being selective and prioritizing the right type of information and the right area just to focus.

Tyson:               I think the other don’t and it’s a little bit of a do though is also to try to be smarter and not just work more, but be a little more strategic. I think part of that is re-evaluating your process. A lot of times with content is you have this, there may be multiple people touching it and having a very tight streamline process, but also using data and tools to help facilitate that. So I think I would say, don’t get locked into like, this is how we do it so we’re just going to continue to do it this way. It is a good time to think about how you can be working smarter, how you can use data to save time for yourself, how you can use data to even validate the areas of the site or the areas of the buyer’s journey that you should be focusing more on. So I think it is a time that we need to be a little more strategic in where we spend our time.

Ben:                   I was talking to a close friend who runs an ecommerce company the other day. And he was saying that, the strengths of their business are their relationships with their content providers, their ability to do digital marketing. But the logistics part is really challenging now that they’re in the Coronavirus era and my advice to them was outsource logistics. Just don’t do that part of your business. This is a time in the world where you can make a big swing, where you can make big changes. Not that you should use the Coronavirus as an excuse, but it does give you leverage to make some changes and focus on the things that you’re going to be exceptional at. If you’re a great content creator, focus on the content production and hire an agency to do the technical component of your SEO, maybe it’s vice versa.

Ben:                 You have to figure out what you’re going to do well with limited resources. Hopefully you can get some other people to help you do the things that you shouldn’t be in housing. It also gets into your process changes. This is a time where you have to reevaluate what your processes are with a new format of working with a new set of resources, with new challenges and new limitations.

Ben:               Tyson, what are some of the other things outside of process that you should reconsider or that you shouldn’t do in the wake of the new buyer’s journey?

Tyson:           No, and really sit on the last point, it’s great advice. It’s a time when you do have to make those changes, lean into the areas that you’re doing well and then stop doing or don’t do as much in those other areas.

Tyson:           The other piece to that is it is an unprecedented time. We can speculate how we think this is going to be in three months but just like right before this whole COVID thing, neither of us saw this coming. So I think you do have to, and it is a time to rely on data and rely on the tools to be validating the instinct. As an SEO, as a content manager, as someone just running an organization, you know your customers, you know your business, but you need to be putting data and backing that to validate that that is what is going on. I think there will be things that we’ll be able to anticipate and foresee coming, but there’s inevitably going to be elements of this that we don’t predict. That’s where data and really being more sophisticated in what you’re looking at and how you’re looking at it is going to be your north star and the point that’s going to ground you and kind of give you the confidence that you’re making the right choices.

Ben:                I agree. I think that you have to still take the same fundamental approach to SEO in being data driven, understanding what your consumers want, looking at the data that you’re getting both internally and also looking at the signals that Google’s giving you. They’ve got more built into the AI machine learning into the algorithm that can really tell you a fair amount about your consumers. When you think about Google’s reaction and how they’ve pivoted or adjusted their algorithm to deal with the new reality, what can SEOs take out of the signals Google is broadcasting to them?

Tyson:            Yes and I think the interesting thing about Google is there is the piece of like, okay, changes are made. Everyone can see changes to the search pages, but a lot of ways is how the algorithms have been written and developed is it’s following user signals and it’s following what’s going on in the market. So Google has much, and in some cases you, could potentially argue more so than some businesses are chasing after that user. So if they’re saying, “Hey, it’s important or it’s relevant for curbside pickup” or whatever elements around this, those pieces and that type of relevancy around the content is going to be a more significant factor. I think thinking about how Google is chasing after it, the user signals and how people are either making queries and searches, but then also like the pages that are getting kind of more rewards are reaping more of the benefits, that’s going to continue to evolve.

Tyson:             I think that’s why really kind of coming back more from a content perspective, this is a time that, especially on those high priority key pages, that you’re going back and you’re revisiting it because a lot of the information that’s important or necessary today probably wasn’t the case a year ago. It’s going to vary depending on industry and segment.

Tyson:             But I’d say that’s probably the biggest recommendation here that I would give is, it is a time to do it. It doesn’t mean you have to scrap the entire page. In that vein, that’s another don’t, don’t just scrap existing content. Think more of how you can be more efficient. So how can you add and reiterate upon existing content that makes it relevant today, being that you already have a foundation complete.

Ben:                 So I think the takeaway here is that you have to remain data-driven, it’s a brand new world. You have to understand the signals that you’re getting from your website, from Google and try to do some customer research and understanding what their intent and expectations are as well.

Ben:                Tomorrow, we’re going to bring Tyson back for the last episode of New Buyer’s Journey Week. We’re going to talk about how to predict the future and understand what you should be doing down the road when it comes to optimizing your new buyer’s journey. So that wraps up this episode of the voices of search podcast.

Ben:                Thanks for listening to my conversation with Tyson Stockton, the head of services at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Tyson, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter, his handle is @tyson_stockton, or you could visit his company’s website, which is Searchmetrics.com.

Ben:                Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com, where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you could always reach out on social media. Our handle is @voicesofsearch on Twitter. My personal handle is @benjshap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. If you haven’t subscribed yet, and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning. All right. That’s it for today. But until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.

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