Covid has caused a massive digital transformation for both small businesses and multi-location brands. But for those who adjusted in early 2020 and may have hoped to regain a sense of normalcy now, the pandemic has instead created an endless series of demands for change.
Amanda Jordan is a local SEO expert and the director of local search at Locomotive, an enterprise technical SEO agency. Street Fight linked up with Jordan to assess how this second year of Covid is impacting SEO, what SEOs should be doing to master local search, and what’s on the cutting edge of the discipline.
Below are Jordan’s takeaways: all direct quotes have been edited for clarity and length.
- 1 Covid makes data difficult to read
- 2 Covid affects each industry differently
- 3 SEO isn’t just about getting customers
- 4 How local SEO publishers have performed during Covid
- 5 The Covid era lessons that will endure
- 6 Zero-click search is an opportunity
- 7 Third-party data will play a bigger role in Google search
- 8 Data science is powering the cutting edge of local search marketing
- 9 What differentiates how SMBs and enterprises approach search
Covid makes data difficult to read
It is difficult these days to look at the data as an SEO. It makes it hard to compare your data – why there may be traffic loss. Is it one of these updates that Google has been doing lately or is it related to changes in customer behavior?
Covid affects each industry differently
It is very important that you consider how what is going on will affect your particular industry. If you’re a home health care company, there may be fewer people willing to let someone come in and sit with their parent… because they’re worried their relatives might get the coronavirus.
Make sure that any questions anyone has about that can be answered not only on your website, but also on your Google My Business listing.
SEO isn’t just about getting customers
I have a huge home care client who has recovered very well from a drop in leads due to the coronavirus, but now they are dealing with a drop in the number of available caregivers. Now our SEO efforts are focused on helping them rank for terms related to healthcare jobs. They didn’t just have to run – we had to run.
How local SEO publishers have performed during Covid
Google did a good job of providing the option to say masks are needed or extra cleaning is needed – that sort of thing in GMB panels. I wish all those attributes were there from the start, but I understand this is something that requires some planning. Google has done well.
Some of those features I hope they stay – like contactless delivery, curbside pick-up, and other features in the GMB panel. These helped many companies to innovate because they had to adapt to the situation. The attributes have also made it easier for consumers to get information.
The Covid era lessons that will endure
Convenience for customers is a great asset. Curbside pickup is great, and businesses see new or different types of businesses from that. The more companies can accommodate how things have changed, the better they will be.
The main features were more custom attributes in GMB based on the situation. I would like to see growth in the Google product area and also in GMB in services. They can be built up a lot more and have a lot of useful information for people before they even get on the site. Not much information is available for companies to understand how to use [those attributes and functions].
If anyone wants to see a good example, Target does a really good job with their GMB profile. They have products there.
Zero-click search is an opportunity
This reminds me of the featured snippet conversation again. These are just highlighted elements – especially with products and services, you choose what appears before GMB. I think it is most beneficial for companies to use it. Products and services can be useful for sharing information and you can link to the site.
I would do a competitive analysis for my industry and see what features people are using. WhiteSpark has a great tool for that, the GMB Explorer. That’s a good way to see if competitors are using [Google’s new features].
Third-party data will play a bigger role in Google search
We will see a lot more third-party data on Google. They already do. That’s why you should pay attention to what’s happening on third-party sites. If that information is incorrect and Google puts it in your knowledge panel, you’re in a bad place. Any major industry or local site, you need to make sure your information is up to date there.
Much more social media information is also displayed in organic search results and in the GMB panel. The future on Google will almost be a small landing page for brands. Search results for local will be more robust.
Data science is powering the cutting edge of local search marketing
Agencies moving in the direction of data science are doing very well. Agencies that do a lot of A/B testing, agencies that try to figure out the CTRs for various elements in GMB panels – those are the people on the cutting edge. People working on understanding intent and building the relationship between the content on their sites and the GMB panel.
What differentiates how SMBs and enterprises approach search
Small and medium-sized businesses have the ability to run and meet the needs of the times better than enterprise-level companies because they don’t have as much bureaucracy. On the other hand, companies have more financing and can probably do things like door-to-door pick-up and delivery much faster than a smaller company. They can also do it in-house instead of outsourcing.
The best thing businesses can do right now is consistent coverage across the brand and very responsive to reviews on Google.