How to boost SEO amid COVID-19

Communicators are facing slashed budgets due to an economy sickened by the coronavirus epidemic, but there are still plenty of cost-effective ways to gain digital traction. Try these six tips to improve your Google rank.

SEO written in notebook with marker

More than two-thirds of marketers anticipate reduced budgets in coming months, according to a survey by the marketing agency Conductor.

For now, high-cost channels such as paid media have fallen out of favor. However, more than a third (34%) of marketers plan to invest more in low-cost channels like SEO, the survey reveals. About two-thirds believe marketing will become more important during the outbreak. Even if consumers are not purchasing products now, brands that invest in SEO become well positioned for recovery.

As savvy businesses soup up their search engine optimization efforts, communication pros can help drive meaningful business results. Here are six ways to improve search rankings.

1. Interview employees and customers about their unique experiences with and knowledge of your products, services, and culture, suggests Miranda Miller, a content marketer at Miranda-Miller.com. “In the coming months, these transcripts and videos will be a rich source of insider info for your blog posts, social content, media releases and more,” Miller writes in Search Engine Journal.

2. Review current content. Create a spreadsheet to record different types of content, such as webpages, blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks and external mentions of your company and products in blogs and online news sites. Then analyze which pieces can be repurposed, improved with new CTAs, or updated and re-promoted.

3. Add backlinks to brand mentions.  “Backlinks — not mentions — are the currency of the internet, acting as votes in your favor,” writes digital marketing expert Neil Patel. “Getting mentions but not links mean you’re only driving a fraction of the traffic or sales you should be.”

With the help of a media monitoring tool, you can locate brand mentions online that lack backlinks. Then, send a polite request and link to the journalist, blogger or webmaster, asking them to link to your site.

4. Submit content. The Covid-19 crisis does not preclude submitting pitches to journalists, blogs and other websites. It’s crucial to include backlinks in guest posts and other types of content you’re pitching.

Links to your homepage and product pages are most valuable from a marketing standpoint, though you can also add links in other text to link to background information and other educational resources on your company’s website. Remember to include a link to the corporate home page in the author’s bio. First, search for the website’s writer’s guidelines and investigate its policy regarding backlinks.

5. Review keywords. Some businesses may rank for terms that no longer make sense for their industry, cautions Michael Davis, content director for On the Map Marketing. Re-examine keywords that you focus on now and determine if they’re still terms that your target audience is concerned with.

“If not, then that’s a place where you can make some room in your budget and dedicate those freed up funds to go after something of greater value during these leaner times,” Davis says.

Google’s Keyword Planner can provide insight into ideal anchor text. It’s important to add links naturally and to avoid keyword stuffingExperts warn to include no more than two or three backlinks in press releases to avoid SEO penalties.

6. Fight to maintain funding. Despite extreme economic difficulty, those who invest in digital marketing now can seize market share. Organic SEO is a zero-sum game. Firms that maintain or increase SEO and PR budgets will be able to replace page one positions of those who cut funding.

“The fact is, we don’t know how long this pandemic is going to last, but whether it’s a few weeks or a few months, you don’t want to lose the goodwill and name recognition that you’ve worked so diligently to build with your clients or the rankings that you’ve achieved with Google,” Davis says. “If you want to stay in the minds of your clients, you need to be proactive during the economic slowdown.”

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