Search Marketing has always been about leveraging Search Demand, which is basically trying to get your product and your messaging in front of people who are searching for keywords that are relevant to what you sell.
What we’re seeing happening to search demand is that in the first few weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, people were searching for “Essential Products”, which were things like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, groceries and other related items.
Over time, we see that initial spike wane a little even though demand for essential products is still really high. We’re seeing people get more interested in searching for non-essentials that make stay-at-home life more tolerable. I call them “Stay-At-Home Wants”. These are things which are non-essential but useful to people when they’re staying at home such as entertainment, toys, beauty products, and houseware.
Eventually, we will see demand start to pick up for the truly “Non-Essentials”, which are things like swimsuits, high-end clothing, and luxury products. However, we don’t know how far out this is going to be.
It makes a lot of sense to pivot our products to meet current supply shortages or spikes in demand that we’re seeing in the marketplace. Below are examples of a few companies that have been able to pivot and reposition their products successfully during this crisis:
- Woodchuck USA makes custom wood products for corporate gifts. When the crisis hit, they saw demand for their regular products tank and they started producing plastic face shields for hospital workers, which resulted in their business going through the roof.
- Adam’s Polishes normally produces their own auto-detailing solutions and other supplies. They were able to re-configure their products to now sell hand sanitizer using the production facilities that they use for their auto-detailing solutions.
- Silicone Gear produces silicone menstrual cups and has now pivoted to producing silicone headbands for face shields.
- Verma Farms sells CBD and is STILL selling CBD but they saw such an uptake in demand that they re-packaged their products and added larger packages to handle bulk orders.
So, what you should be thinking about is:
“What can you repurpose, source, or manufacture?”
- How can you repurpose the products you already have?
- How can you source new products (if you have those relationships)?
- How can you manufacture new products that would help to meet supply shortages or spikes in demand?
Convergence of Trends
The way I see SEO during the crisis is that we’re seeing an acceleration of trends and I think about it as the convergence of two trends: trends going on with Google and then trends that were forced upon us because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Google Search Trends:
Technical SEO: With regards to Google, technical SEO doesn’t work anymore such as on-page SEO and Meta-data. It’s important to do on-page SEO and technical SEO but it’s not enough anymore. You need to have authority and content that provides the best answers to queries that you’re after.
Authority: You need to demonstrate authority in your niche/market with backlinks. When other websites link back to you, Google sees this as endorsements of your website. If you can get write-ups in blogs, media or industry publications, Google will see that as endorsements that raise your authority. Nowadays, it’s very difficult to do SEO with no authority.
Keywords: We’ve seen a trend for a while that’s forced us to focus on mid-funnel keywords. What this trend means is that Google is putting more ads on search results pages. Not only are you competing with your competitors for the most competitive keywords but you’re also competing with Google because they’re putting a lot of ads on these pages. The way that we’ve been able to find less competitive search results pages and less competitive keywords in general is to go after mid-funnel keywords.
COVID-19 Search Behavior Trends:
Now, we’ve got these new trends that the current crisis is forcing on us.
Search Demand: Surge in searches for essential products.
Content Demand: What is relevant to people and what type of content are they searching for? This is really centered around topics related to the stay-at-home economy.
Competitive Advantage: A lot of brands have an advantage over Amazon because there’s been a reduction in consumers’ Amazon preference. This is because many items that previously had 1-2 day delivery have now shifted to around 4 weeks delivery. As a result, people order directly from the brand or manufacturer of the product because of faster shipping and more affinity for the brand than for Amazon. As somebody who’s doing marketing for an independent brand, you have the opportunity to build relationships with your customers and pull them off platforms like Amazon.
“SEO is still a long-term strategy. But, don’t miss out on short-term opportunities.”
Accelerate your SEO
The short-term opportunity is to accelerate your SEO campaign.
When it comes to Content:
- Research trending keywords
- Write about emerging topics that are relevant to your customers “new normal”
- Just be human
This is why we have the opportunity to be more relevant to customers right now because we know what’s on their mind and know what their anxieties are.
When it comes to Authority, we know it is about backlinks.
Promote your content: It’s really about finding other websites that can link to you because you’re doing something remarkable, providing useful information or awesome content that’s unique and valuable. You ought to be promoting the content that you’re writing about emerging topics and you should be promoting it by emailing or connecting with people on social media that are writing about similar topics. If you’re able to get them to link to you, then that’s going to help you from an authority perspective. You can also generate COVID-19 resource pages that are useful to your customers and by reaching out to other websites that are curating similar pages and figuring out if it would be appropriate to include a link to your page.
Publish Data: If you have any data that you have been able to glean, you can do a survey of your customers or vendors. If it’s data coming from your website regarding products that are being sold and which are the highest in demand then publishing data is always a good way to go when it comes to getting authority and links. This is because it’s going to be unique and nobody else is going to have the same dataset that you do especially if you’re able to glean some insights from it. Do some promotion — reach out to people in your space that are writing about these topics and that’s how you’re going to get links and use the current situation to accelerate your SEO.
Build Relationships: At the end of the day, building authority and getting links is all about building relationships. So once again, be human.
3D Printing vs 3D Printing Medical Supplies
For example, we have a client that sells 3D printers. What they have been trying to do for a long time, and it’s working but is really slow, is building up authority for 3D printers by writing about the industry, product comparison guides and related topics.
However, it turned out that a quicker route to building authority in the current environment was by writing about 3D printed medical supplies. They wrote about manufacturing the products and, if you are in the healthcare space, how to have a conversation with somebody who does 3D printing so you can understand the limitations and how to get the critical medical supplies that you require.
What happened with this client is that the current crisis turned out to be a shortcut for building authority because they really jumped on this topic of how to print 3D medical supplies early and got links and engagement through that.
Find Opportunities to be Human
Look for opportunities to be human. That’s really what pivoting your content strategy, authority building, and link-building strategy would look like.
- Opportunities to give back to your customers and the community
- Building community
- Building relationship
- Helping your customers
- Reassuring your customers, which a lot of people are really looking for right now
- Nurturing partnerships with vendors, other companies etc
- Leading your industry
“Great SEO happens as a side-effect of great content and building relationships”
Tools: Finding Opportunities
Some softwares that we use to find keyword opportunities include:
- Google Trends
- Google Analytics
- Search Console
If you’re interested in our opinion about keywords that you should be targeting based on your product or even pivoting your product catalog to reposition the products that you have, feel free to email me at [email protected] (no cost)! Let me know a little bit about the products that you’re selling and we’ll get back to you with some related opportunities that we’re seeing in the marketplace.
- Identify what’s relevant to your customers now: The best way to do that is to talk to them. I would recommend calling some of them — a lot of your customers are sitting at home and would be happy to talk! You can ask questions like, “Why did you order?”, “How will you use this product?”, “Why did you choose to buy it now?” among others. You will learn a lot, which will help you with your marketing.
- Do keyword research to find trending keywords
- Develop useful content
- Look for opportunities to build authority: Do this by being human. Maybe you can find some data that’s useful or you can help your customers with new problems that they’re facing just within the last couple of weeks.
- Promote your useful content: Reach out on social media and email to other people in your space that are writing about the same topics and build a community around your content because that’s how you’ll get links.
- Generate backlinks: Don’t just generate useful content but also get the SEO benefit from it by generating links.