Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, so many things changed about people's lifestyles. As of writing, several pharmaceutical companies have developed vaccines against the virus, and roll-outs have started worldwide. However, the pandemic's effects will stay with us for years to come, with some possibly becoming permanent fixtures in our lives.
An unexpected effect of COVID-19 is that more businesses now recognize the value of solid branding and a robust digital presence. Here are some online browsing behaviors that consumers developed in 2020 and what they could mean for businesses in the coming years.
The Rise of Pandemic-Related Content
It's already been a year since the pandemic threw the world into chaos, but COVID-19 is still a popular search term. People wondered about many things at the start of the pandemic. Though some of these questions have answers today, we still don't know what to expect from many others. It is why pandemic-related content, specifically about COVID-19, continues to bring in traffic. In addition to this, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and other online platforms have developed site-wide policies for content featuring COVID-19.
Google, being the largest search engine today, prioritizes coronavirus-related information on its SERPs. If you type the keyword "COVID-19," for example, this is what comes up:
You get a rich result compiling statistics, health information, testing, news, and coping with COVID-19, an overview of cases in your country and worldwide, and a map of cases depending on your location. Searching "COVID-19 infections" will bring this search results page:
You have the latest news reports from different sources, a daily moving average of cases worldwide, an overview of cases in your area, information on the available vaccines, and a sidebar from the World Health Organization's primer on the virus.
Besides content directly related to the virus, people are also interested in tangential topics such as fitness, outdoor activities, and hobbies you can engage in at home. Since people have had to spend nearly the entire year indoors, many people needed to pick up interests and pastimes to keep them mentally healthy. Many people also wanted to learn how to stay physically healthy, so fitness and nutrition tips were also quite popular.
To keep customers engaged, find ways of providing content or services that audiences need now. Suppose you are not in the health and wellness industry. In that case, you could probably write about time management, working from home, home improvement, DIY projects, caring for pets or plants, and financial preparedness, among others.
There Are More 'Near Me' Searches Today
Local businesses undoubtedly suffered because of the pandemic. Though it is a little more challenging to keep a business afloat today, many people are still actively supporting small and medium enterprises. You could argue that people support SMEs precisely because it is tough to keep
the lights on in this economy. Besides, with the travel restrictions, lockdowns, and supply chain issues most of the world still has, the best source of goods and services is often the store nearest your home.
This trend also looks like it is here to stay. For example, 84 percent of respondents to an Accenture survey showed that Americans plan to keep shopping locally sourced products even after the pandemic passes. As such, local SEO will be a crucial aspect of marketing for small businesses. You would want to be among the businesses to show up when people perform 'Near Me' searches related to your offerings.
Keeping your business information up-to-date is vital for your local rankings. If you implemented changes in your hours of operation or offer curbside pickups, deliveries, and other contactless services, you need to include that in your listing. Maintaining a Google My Business page will make it easier for customers to find what they need.
More People Choose to Shop Online Today
People who were not into online shopping before the pandemic likely started last year. In 2020 (and even 2021), many places had to close their physical stores because of COVID-19 guidelines. Business owners who wanted to move inventory opened or boosted their e-commerce capabilities. Even after a year of sheltering in place, many people prefer shopping online. Also, even if the economy has opened up, stores might still limit the number of people allowed on their premises at one time, so online shopping channels should still be open to serve as many people as possible. The Global Connected Consumer Index says 28 percent more consumers now shop online since the start of the pandemic.
Maintaining an e-commerce store is one of the best ways to stay in people's minds at this time. Local businesses with smaller budgets could create product websites and link them to their social media pages to connect with customers in real-time.
Emphasis on Evergreen Content
Targeting COVID-related keywords is a good short-term strategy. However, if you want to sustain interest in your business, you need to go beyond these and use SEO for other topics. Times of uncertainty typically bring out the conservative nature of people, and a strategy like search optimization aligns with that. Since SEO's gains are incremental and over time, you can tweak and adjust your strategy without worrying about massive losses.
Focus on evergreen content or articles that focus on mainstays, basics, and popular topics within your industry or niche. Though you still need to update evergreen articles, you are sure they will attract audiences even if they don't have the trendiest keywords or tackle the latest in your field. When writing a content plan for your blog, ensure that you have a good mix of trendy and evergreen blog posts.
The pandemic has tested the resourcefulness and resilience of business owners everywhere. Since we rely more on the internet today, SEO and digital marketing are more critical to local businesses than ever before. Keep optimizing your marketing strategy and figuring out what topics get people to respond. When you figure out what your audience likes, it will be easier for you to deliver content that matters.
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