SEO is not something you can turn on or off. If you took away everything else, how well your site is optimized for organic search is the one thing you can count on to continue to drive traffic to your domain. Recently, COVID-19 has caused user behavior to shift and brands must respond. We use the data to provide a view of what we are seeing, help our brands make informed decisions, and seek opportunity amid COVID-19.

Over the last several weeks, screen time has increased as people remain at home and practice social distancing. However, this doesn’t mean search and buying behaviors are consistent with last year’s trends or even those a few weeks before COVID-19 began to change daily lives. Industries are being impacted in different ways; below, we surveyed several notable brands and consolidated organic visibility KPIs by industry to uncover the impact.

Retail

Retail has seen a 34% decline in clicks since the end of February 2020. This decline spans a variety of niches, including fast fashion, specialty, and activewear. Brand searches are down across all niches, though we are seeing a slight return in non-brand searches, particularly in the specialty and fast fashion niches. We speculate fast fashion’s lower price point and specialty’s audience still need to sustain their lifestyles (even from home). 

Home Goods

Despite people staying at home, the home-goods brands we surveyed haven’t seen any positive changes in search metrics. Instead, these brands have seen a 20% decline in organic clicks. Home brands have seen a slight improvement in recent days, suggesting that buying behaviors may be returning to normal.

B2B

Non-essential businesses are closing shop temporarily, reducing hours, implementing work from home operations, and/or downsizing staff. As a result, marketing budgets are being cut, decreasing the demand for B2B services. Our B2B group saw a 20% drop in weekly organic clicks. 

Food Delivery

After an initial slow down, the food category is closing March strong. Our food group is seeing a 58% increase in organic clicks. We expect this trend to continue as more shoppers ditch brick and mortar stores and instead, order meals and everyday essentials online. 

CPG

After a brief lull in performance during the beginning of March, CPG is coming back strong with a 20% rise in organic clicks. This could potentially be due to shoppers skipping the pharmacy or stores where they’d normally shop and are now stocking up on essentials from online.

Health & Medical

After COVID-19 interest surged within the American market during the first week of March, the health vertical saw a swell in organic clicks. Since then, organic search interest has returned to normal trends.

Additional Considerations

Due to data limits, we couldn’t explore all industries. Travel and hospitality are undoubtedly seeing negative impacts of COVID-19 while entertainment and news are experiencing a surge as searchers stay up to date with the latest news and treat boredom in isolation.

As brands pull back paid search budgets, the organic channel will begin to make up a larger portion of total website KPIs, including sessions, conversions/leads, and revenue, notably on brand searches. This may inflate organic numbers, so keep an eye on the breakout between paid search and organic.

Regardless of whether the industry is seeing negative or positive changes in search interest, average ranking positions remain consistent. This means that changes are being driven by search behavior — not through shifts in search engine results pages or algorithm changes.

5 Things To Do Today for SEO

If you have a brick and mortar presence, update your local listings to reflect any closures or changes in your hours

With cities across the country shifting priorities and governments promoting the closure of non-essential businesses, your customers can become confused where they can and cannot go. If you have temporarily closed your store(s) during this crisis, update your hours, place a temporary closure on your business listing, and make sure your website is pointing to the correct URL if anyone needs more information.

Implement structured data and enhance any markup already in place

With paid budgets receding, lean on your organic presence to capture search traffic. With structured data, you can support the population of your organic listings with review data, pricing, inventory levels, and other features to make them more visible and provide potential customers with the data they seek upfront.

Stay on top of crawling and indexing errors

You’ll be relying on the major search engines to direct traffic to your site. Spending time cleaning up errors means your potential site visitors won’t land on a broken or missing page. Additionally, Google will remove broken pages from its index —don’t let that happen to the pages you want to be found.

Make sure your core pages are well optimized and updated

Page relevancy isn’t static. If your key revenue-driving pages haven’t been updated in some time, update their keyword strategy, implement new metadata, and re-write your on-page copy to reflect changing search trends.

Create long-form, informational content

As time goes on and paid search budgets begin to tick back up, short-tail, conversion heavy terms will succumb to SERPs laden with paid ads and other shopping features. To remain competitive, use this time to bolster your long-tail, non-brand presence through the creation of informational content that can be published through a blog or a content hub on your site.

Considering the slow down many brands will now face, it is important to look at your business and your data to make informed decisions on how to capture customers and plan for recovery. Blue Moon Digital has an extensive SEO team that partners with many of our brands to ensure their sites maintain a healthy organic presence and the optimizations we put in place continue to stay relevant. If you’d like to set up a deep dive into your brand’s SEO content, please reach out to us.