How to boost SEO flow like a pro during COVID-19

Gain expert guidance on collaborating with experts in your niche, prioritizing authority and strategically promoting your content.

Portrait of businesswoman pulling SEO banner

When a crisis comes along, marketers are faced with burning questions about how best to respond.

Should we keep doing what we’re doing?

Is it time to cut marketing and PR budgets?

Should we pause to see what everybody else is doing?

Perhaps we should take this opportunity to evaluate data, pivot accordingly, and optimize content as we go?

That last one’s the tack recommended by Lee OddenCEO of TopRank Marketing, who shared sharp insights at Ragan’s Google for Communicators Virtual Bootcamp on Tuesday, May 13.

Odden says the coronavirus pandemic is forcing companies to pull back on explicit product marketing in favor of an emphasis on “purpose” and utility for the public good. Right now, marketers should focus on empowering customers—not on selling.

Enter the power of SEO, which can “help customers pull themselves toward solutions on their own terms,” Odden says.

If you’re not planning to invest in SEO efforts during this time of extreme reliance on web queries, you could be left in the digital dust. Odden cites a survey that found 63% of respondents believe SEO’s importance will increase dramatically during the pandemic.

So, how can you get in on Google’s game? Odden says, “You are what you E.A.T.,” which is to say your webpages should be stuffed—not with bogus keywords, but with expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. To optimize content for “findability and credibility,” you must provide “answers users can trust,” Odden says.

Suffuse your site with third-party expertise, use keywords strategically, and “write about things people are searching for.” Odden suggests using tools such as Traackr, Buzzsumo and SEMRush to get a sense of what your customers are seeking—and tailor your content accordingly.

“This is especially crucial during a pandemic, when every decision is digital,” Odden says.

Odden offers five steps to sharpen your SEO initiatives:

1. Create an ideal customer profile. Uncover what their job descriptions look like (and who they might report to), as well as topics, content types, social media platforms and media outlets they tend to prefer.

2. Identify influencers on specific topics. “Who is influential about topics that matter to your targeted accounts?” Odden says. Use can use a tool such as Traackr to find the right influencer for your specific niche.

3. Embark upon content co-creation and activation. Determine how best you can spark influencer collaboration. Find the right content types and social media platforms that suit your objectives, and use media relations tactics to earn broader coverage.

Odden says to create “power pages” that thoroughly articulate what a thing is and how it works. Answer common buyer questions, offer examples, include social proof and third-party validation, and include calls to action throughout.

4. Pursue content promotion. Now it’s time to get influencers to promote your optimized content. Encourage cross posting on different platforms. Pursue getting links published in earned and owned media. Consider repurposing old content, too.

Organic search is a moving target, and Google’s constantly tweaking its algorithm, but links from high-authority sources don’t go out of style.

5. Maintain ongoing influencer engagement. You’re not done once a piece is published. Maintain relationships, monitor experts, and actively connect influencers with each other.

Odden offers four further takeaways to boost SEO:

  • Identify industry experts and high-visibility influencers who are creating on-topic content.
  • Seek out experts who already have “knowledge panels” on Google.
  • Evaluate an influencer’s link attraction rate when they publish or contribute content.
  • Provide influencers with SEO audits of their blogs so they can improve their search visibility.

Ultimately, a key to winning the SEO game involves listening—and responding—to what your people care about. This sort of responsiveness and sensitivity is especially crucial during a pandemic.

As Odden says: “It’s time to banish tone-deaf, status quo marketing.”

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