How Search Marketers Should Prioritize SEO and Google My Business Optimizations in Uncertain Times

Kayla Hammersmith Senior Content Marketing Manager, DialogTech

Search behavior as we know it is rapidly changing — and that’s why search marketers need to be nimble. We hosted a conversation between two long-time SEO experts, Reputation.com’s Director of Product Adam Dorfman and DialogTech’s VP of Marketing Dave McAnally, on how to adjust paid search and organic strategies in light of the COVID-19 crisis. 

In this installment of our Mission-Critical Marketing digital event series, Adam, Dave, and DialogTech’s SVP of Marketing Viji Davis discuss the best practices that marketers should follow right now (and they reveal their favorite quarantine foods— but you’ll have to watch the full-length video to find out what they’ve been snacking on!).

Get the top tips from Adam and Dave on what search marketers should prioritize below. Want all the insights from the webinar? Watch the on-demand video: Managing Paid Search and SEO in Uncertain Times.

The Mission-Critical Tasks that Search Marketers Should Do Right Now

With businesses closed and individuals at home, one of the primary ways that consumers can interact with brands is online. Many consumers turn to Google and the SERP (search engine results page) for answers first — not your website.

Adam emphasizes that your website is no longer the primary place that people find out information about your business. Instead, they turn to Google. That’s been going on for a while now, and it’s still the case during the COVID-19 crisis.

Since Google is your brand’s “front door,” you should make sure that you’re doing everything you can to make your SERP presence as informative as possible.

In addition to seeing the SERP as your website’s welcome mat, Adam recommends that marketers double down on owned and earned media. Bolstering your organic and social presence will help you improve your brand positioning.  

Make Sure You Cover the SEO Basics 

As part of your owned and earned media strategy — and because many companies are facing budget uncertainty — you should make sure you’re investing as much as you can in SEO.

Dave recommends that you:

  • Add schema markup to your site. Make sure you have schema markup for phone numbers and store hours since these are key pieces of information that consumers are looking for right now. You can also add schema for prices and ratings, which help search engine crawlers convey these details in the SERP. Plus, there is new emergency messaging schema that you can use to convey details like if your healthcare organization provides COVID-19 drive-through testing services.
  • Work on your site speed: With everyone online right now, users are looking for a quick and seamless website experience. Slow pages and issues with loading causes friction, which you don’t want ever — but it’s even more important now. Work with your developers to make updates that improve your site speed. 
  • Ensure your content has updated timestamps: From blog posts to messages from your business, you should update publish dates and timestamps. This sends content freshness signals to Google and to your users. Of course, that means ensuring the content itself (not just the timestamps!) is fresh, too. 

Overall, with other business initiatives likely on hold during this crisis, now is the time to bolster your SEO strategy, get back to basics, and work on your tech debt. 

Navigating Google My Business’ Limited Functionality

Google My Business has experienced limited functionality during the COVID-19 crisis. While features are still in flux and will likely continue to be updated throughout the crisis, Adam still emphasizes the importance of reviews. 

Reviews are a prominent signal in Google’s local and Maps rankings. The frequency, recency, and sentiment of your reviews all play a part in how reputable Google sees your business. 

On top of changes to review features in Google My Business, there’s another challenge to reviews. If your business is fully closed right now, how can you garner new reviews?

While Adam acknowledges that most reviews occur after a point in sale, there are other moments you can ask a customer for a review. For instance, if your brick-and-mortar business is closed but you’re still talking to customers over the phone and being helpful, you can request a review at the end of a positive call. 

In addition to continuing a strong review management strategy during a crisis, you can also make some specific updates to your Google My Business profile with new COVID-19 attributes. You can learn more about Google’s new attributes for Google My Business listings from this Reputation.com post

Learn More from the Mission-Critical Marketing Series

On top of Adam’s SEO tips, he called out the importance of being helpful and supportive to your audience right now. Your marketing should be tied to service to consumers and forging relationships with them, not tied to selling. 

It’s not a coincidence that Adam’s message on building relationships and being helpful is similar to another Mission-Critical Marketing guest’s message, Yext’s VP of Industry Insights Duane Forrester. In our first installment of the Mission-Critical Marketing series, Duane emphasized the importance of being a helper in a crisis.

Get all the insights on how you can position your brand as a helper during COVID-19. Watch How to Empower Your Brand to Be a Helper in a Crisis Through Your Marketing with Yext and DialogTech now.

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