With lockdown being enforced on 20% of the world’s population, many businesses started feeling it on their bottom line and are subsequently cutting their SEO and PPC marketing budgets.
With the uncertainty of the extent to which lockdown measures will be eased, there are many who question whether SEO and Google Ads (PPC) should still be pursued during this time. The answer is an unequivocal “Yes!”.
Certain Markets Are Still Booming
Though search volumes and interest has decreased in certain industries, they exploded in others. Some examples include:
- E-Commerce Marketplaces – Woolworths Food and Checkers didn’t offer online shopping before the lockdown; both companies have now scrambled to claim some of Pick ‘n Pay’s online market share.
(Google Trends view for Pick ‘n Pay Online)
- Logistics and delivery – With people no longer allowed to leave their homes, products and services must be delivered to consumers.
- Home Education – South African schools were closed on the 18th of March after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the Covid-19 outbreak a national disaster. This week it was leaked that students will only gradually return to schools, resulting in an increase in searches for homeschooling.
- Online courses – It is normal to see a spike in search volumes for online courses at the beginning of the year – new year, new you. But South Africans have been looking at various ways to spend their lockdown time constructively during lockdown.
- Food bloggers – With more time at home, South Africans have been spending more of their online time looking at recipes to plan (or cook) their next meal.
- Sports Equipment – Many fitness boffins are bemoaning the restrictions being placed on public fitness places, including gyms and exercise classes. With this, there has been an unseasonal boom in “Sports Equipment” searches for these consumers to remain fit at home.
How Small Businesses Can Share In The Success
If your business doesn’t have a mobile-friendly website, there’s no time like the present to get one. If you sell products, look into getting an e-Commerce site. By having a professional, easy-to-use website, you can enjoy an additional channel of revenue in your business (beyond your brick-and-mortar store).
Google Ads As A Quick Fix
If you have a website, but you’re not ranking for any of your products or services, Google Ads is the best way to get your business noticed by potential customers. Your ads can be up and running within a couple of hours after you’ve set up your account and added your billing details.
SEO Should Be Your Long-Term Plan
SEO has received a bad reputation as a snake-oil solution, but the truth is websites that appear at the top of Google’s search results were optimised for the Search Engine to find it. As such, businesses should look for a reputable SEO company to help them improve their website through content, link building and on-site optimisation.
Markets That Crashed
Several industries were severely impacted by the lockdown and Covid-19, but few have been affected as the travel and tourism industry.
Before the lockdown was imposed, there was a spike in travel-related searches as South Africans looked for ways to return home. But, after it was enforced, South Africa’s interest in travelling hit a 12-month low in April.
However, this doesn’t need to spell doom and gloom for industries that took a knock in the past month. During lockdown, consumers all around the world are spending more time online, specifically on Social Media, YouTube and reading articles.
How These Businesses Can Compete
Content and Social Media is The Short- and Long-Term Solution
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that content and Social Media marketing will only be highly relevant during lockdown. Content, if done well, can have lasting effects on success – with users finding it via a Google Search, or you boosting your best-performing pieces on Social Media at a later stage.
Create a content marketing strategy by choosing one of your products or services and planning what types of content you can create to educate, influence, and convert a potential customer into a sale. Videos, photo stories, blog posts and podcasts all contribute to improving your business’s visibility online and your reputation amongst consumers.
Start With SEO Now
Because SEO is a long-term strategy, it isn’t the solution that will turn a failing business around instantaneously. However, if your business has a budget available for Google Ads, moving that money to SEO for a few months (while search volumes are still low) will be a great long-term investment.
Putting in some work now to get your business to rank will positively influence the number of website visitors and enquiries you will get in the coming months.
Despite the dire situation in the economy, there are still opportunities businesses can explore. They need only look to the right Search Engine Marketing strategy to find, and take part in these opportunities.