Coronavirus Impact on SEO: Where is SEO going in 2021?

The coronavirus pandemic has had a severe impact on individuals and economies worldwide and is not done yet, but in many ways, SEO marketing is already moving forward.

Businesses were forced to shift priorities and adapt. Part of that was figuring out how SEO marketing could help them reach customers in this new era.

Here’s a look at the coronavirus impact on SEO: Where do things stand with content marketing and SEO — and how can you take advantage of that?

Why is SEO more important than ever?

Content is king. It always has been, and it appears this will remain true for decades to come. In fact, content is one of the few things immune from the coronavirus during this period of digital transformation.

One impact of the coronavirus on SEO has been to highlight the importance of trustworthiness in online content. Individuals of all backgrounds relied on trustworthy content as they searched for vital information on COVID-19 and vaccine locations.

Meanwhile, Google has been placing more value than ever on quality content in all areas. Quality has always been important to good SERP, but the coronavirus pandemic highlighted how much consumers value quality and trustworthiness.

Search engine optimization does more than just increase traffic to your website. It brings more qualified leads who are interested in the products or services you offer. The right SEO work will help you get better SERP and pull in leads who are ready to be converted into paying customers.

SEO trends and quality content

E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) is at the core of Google’s search engine optimization rankings. SEO experts debate E-A-T’s use as a ranking factor, but its importance can’t be ignored. Two algorithm updates, BERT and SMITH, dissect search queries and the content on pages to present relevant results that have the highest E-A-T rating to users.

Black hat SEO techniques (such as keyword stuffing and article spinning) alert BERT and SMITH that the web page does not meet E-A-T standards, which can cause articles and/or domains to not rank at all. Google Search has discouraged these techniques for some time. Eventually, the search engine will not tolerate them at all.

Evergreen articles provide information that is not dependent on current events. Evergreen blog posts can provide increased site traffic for years. These blog posts will remain relevant long after the pandemic is over.

Content marketing is one of the many branches of a complete SEO strategy. Like SEO, content marketing aims for long-term results rather than short-term metrics. In fact, only 5.7% of new pages will reach the top 10 results page within one year of being published. This statistic shows that businesses need to implement a long-term strategy sooner rather than later to start achieving ROI.

coronavirus impact on SEO

One coronavirus impact on SEO: Thinking long-term

The content performance platform developed by rellify, based in Virginia Beach and Cologne, Germany, specializes in developing a strategy for its clients that focuses on relevant, long-form articles and blog posts.

Keyword research remains important in digital marketing, but keywords and keyword phrases have lost some of their SERP power. With the machine learning and AI technology that Google Core Updates have employed, user intent and search intent have gained prominence. Each core update seems to put the customer, not just a keyword, as the main focus.

A recent algorithm update, Google’s Products Reviews rewards the quality of the content rather than the quantity. Gone are the days of simply saying a product is great or it solved an unspecific problem. Google now ranks in-depth reviews that cover benefits, drawbacks, and purchase intent higher than those that simply leave 5-stars.

How have SEO trends changed since the coronavirus?

A look at SEO trends finds that the pandemic fallout did not set new directions as much as it intensified things already in motion, like online shopping and e-commerce sales. Need we say that people shopped more online than ever before and that online shopping will continue as a fundamental shift? With more people shopping online, small businesses have new opportunities to attract customers that had been out of reach.

Google Algorithm Updates seem to affect digital marketing more than the coronavirus.

Mobile

As far as Google Search is concerned, you, your business, and your customers are mobile. In fact, over 65% of search queries are done on mobile devices. This includes a smartphone or tablet. While the exact percentage of mobile searches will vary based on your audience, you must think mobile-first.

Google uses mobile-first indexing, and it rewards mobile-first websites. Your SERP ranking won’t improve with a mobile-friendly desktop website. The internal structure of your website must reflect how users navigate the site on a mobile device.

Core Web Vitals

Core Web Vitals are not a result of the pandemic. They represent a Google update meant to provide the best user experience on its search engine.

The three aspects of Core Web Vitals cover loading, interactivity, and visual stability. Their use as ranking factors reflects the importance of user experience from a technical standpoint, in addition to high-authority content.

  • Loading performance is measured by Largest Contentful Paint (LCP). To retain a high SEO ranking, the largest content on the screen should load within 2.5 seconds.
  • Interactivity relates to First Input Delay (FID). That’s the time it takes your site to respond to the first tap or click by a user. Google algorithms judge 100 milliseconds or less as good.
  • The last factor, visual stability, is based on Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), the annoying movement of elements as a page builds. Google search algorithms look for a score of 0.1 or less.

Voice and video

These two attractions – voice and video – are also shaking up attempts to optimize content.

Voice search continues to grow hand in hand with the popularity of voice search-enabled devices. We’re talking to you, Siri! Voice search users tend to speak in full, complete questions, so long-tail keywords work well here.

Voice search typically provides only the top-rated search engine result, like the featured snippets that Google search offers. That does not help SERP or click-through rates. SEO experts are working to optimize in a zero-click world.

Many users are moving away from reading web copy or looking at static images. Instead, they prefer to watch a video, particularly on social media. SEO-friendly video requires many of the same techniques as on-page SEO for websites—things like good meta descriptions matter. High-quality video content combined with good SEO work can drive traffic to your website.

Coronavirus impact on SEO and small business

Due to travel restrictions and supply chain issues, many people turned to local brick-and-mortar businesses to get what they needed during the pandemic. This also allowed individuals to support struggling businesses in their communities.

In fact, a survey by Accenture found that this trend of supporting the local community will continue. Nearly 85% of respondents said they would shop at neighborhood stores and/or buy locally sourced products once it is safe to return to in-store shopping

This represents a significant impact on SEO by the coronavirus. Also, it means it has never been more important for small businesses to focus on SEO. While Google has long offered Google My Business and Google Maps Listings to local businesses, the company responded to the pandemic by launching Google Local Posts. This allowed business owners to publish updates to both accounts with the push of a button.

The rise in zero-click search further increases the need for small businesses to engage in SEO.

Users searching for business hours, menus, phone numbers, and other vital information can find most of their answers without clicking a link. By claiming and maintaining a Google My Business profile, small businesses can take advantage of having their business displayed at the top of search results pages for common questions.

If your small business doesn’t have a Google My Business profile, you miss out on a free resource that can boost your exposure and SEO ranking. Claim your profile now!

Get help riding the SEO trends

There is no doubt that there was a significant coronavirus impact on SEO. However, the resultant increase in web traffic and widespread reliance on e-commerce are only a part of a changing landscape. Keeping track of these trends and attending to the intricacies of technical SEO, backlink strategy, algorithm updates, and the like presents a huge challenge to businesses large and small.

The services of rellify, the content performance platform, can help you make the most of these developments to drive customers to your website. Contact rellify today to learn more.