How Search has Changed & is Changing During COVID-19
Much like the rest of the world, the impact of COVID-19 has been felt in the SEO & Web industry. Remaining relevant throughout this pandemic has been a challenge felt across all websites, and maintaining a strong digital presence through SEO and content marketing will be key for many businesses to survive. For example, as local businesses are forced to close, e-commerce has become more important than ever. Customers are looking to purchase products online more than ever. There isn’t any indication this will change when we are on the other side of the pandemic, as consumer behaviors will have fully adapted to online purchasing.
So how can you adapt your site and optimize your online presence both during and after the pandemic?
Luckily, ASTOUNDZ has your back with some awesome tips and insights, but first…
Later today, we are releasing a broad core algorithm update, as we do several times per year. It is called the May 2020 Core Update. Our guidance about such updates remains as we’ve covered before. Please see this blog post for more about that:https://t.co/e5ZQUAlt0G— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) May 4, 2020
Yep, Google decided to publish a broad core algorithm update during the pandemic! Aptly titled, ‘May 2020 Core Update’, was released on May 4, 2020, with a rollout lasting several weeks. While Google never fully covers the exact ranking factors being changed in each update, their accompanying blog posts always offer unique insights.
Key May 2020 Core Update Takeaways
There are two takeaways from the May 2020 Core Update – Content & E-A-T (Expertise, Authority & Trust).
The majority of the blog covers Google’s increased focus on the quality of the content. In nearly every broad core update, Google states:
“As explained, pages that drop after a core update don’t have anything wrong to fix. This said, we understand those who do less well after a core update change may still feel they need to do something. We suggest focusing on ensuring you’re offering the best content you can. That’s what our algorithms seek to reward.”
You could argue that ‘offering the best content’ is rather subjective, especially in areas where topics are heavily contested/debatable. However, in general, Google is saying that your content needs to be helpful and accurate.
Expertise, Authority & Trust
While some SEOs argue that E-A-T is less of a ranking factor and more of a methodology, it’s influence on a website’s visibility on search is indisputable. Google directly says:
“In particular, raters are trained to understand if content has what we call strong E-A-T. That stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Reading the guidelines may help you assess how your content is doing from an E-A-T perspective and improvements to consider.”
At this point, with the number of times Google has published content about the importance of E-A-T it isn’t hard to see how this impacts rankings. Compared to content, E-A-T can be far more intense to build and publish on a website. This can include key team member pages, resourceful content, testimonial/reviews, and more. If you need help understanding your website’s E-A-T, contact ASTOUNDZ and our team will be glad to audit your website.
Optimizing your website during and after the coronavirus pandemic
While the May 2020 Core Update is largely tied to how search engines work, the pandemic has massively influenced users’ expectations for websites. For local SMBs, websites have become more important as a marketing tool. For national brands, websites need to provide in-depth resources and information regarding operations. These enhancements to websites are positive and likely to be permanent. Below are some key tips for optimizing your site, no matter what vertical/industry it’s in:
- Invest in e-commerce:
For many retail businesses, the pandemic effectively shuttered their physical operations, leaving the website as the only real ‘storefront’ for customers. This has forced most shops to build an e-commerce platform on their website. ASTOUNDZ has also seen sites with e-commerce set up re-invest and improve their store.
- Create a COVID-19 resource page:
Users are increasingly looking for websites to be the ultimate source of truth for current business info & resources. For small businesses, this can be a page linking out to local resources and ways to help. For national brands, providing an overview of what it’s doing to help can go a long way in creating trust with users.
- Updating business information/customer service:
Making sure your business info, like hours, is up to date during the pandemic cannot be understated. For national brands, this can look like notices for a change in customer service response times. There are also SEO impacts here, as Google looks across the web for consistent business info to rank in map packs.
- Identify new opportunities:
With such extreme search positive and negative trends, i.e. the major increases in searches for ‘home delivery services’, it’s hard to predict which trends will last. With top-ranking pages across all Google search having an average age of over a year being published, it’s incredibly important to choose the right topics to invest in content development.
- Ensure web performance is optimized:
With an increased reliance on websites during the pandemic, making sure your website is fast, mobile-responsive, and easy to navigate is vital. Plus, Google has let the world know that web performance will be a major ranking factor at some point soon via https://web.dev/vitals/.
ASTOUNDZ is here to help
Trying to update your website and digital presence amidst the pandemic can be overwhelming. Our team of SEO experts and web developers has already helped hundreds of sites transition and update to reflect this new normal. We’re here for you too, contact us today if you’d like to discuss your website and online presence.
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