In this COVID-19 era with ever-fluctuating realities, Altezza is here to help pinpoint the SEO strategies to capitalize on in this almost exclusively digital world. While each industry is different and there are no perfect answers, we can still take note of previous mass changes and build from how Google preferred eCommerce sites to react. Spoiler alert—it revolves around white hat SEO and not making a ton of random risky modifications.
1. Now is not the time for knee-jerk reactions.
Throughout the past few months, SERPs have been drastically oscillating due to how and what people are searching for. Google even added features to help users get valid pandemic-related information faster, however, these adjustments should not lead to knee-jerk SEO reactions.
In a recent Search Engine Land episode on the disruption of search during COVID-19, Morty Oberstein said in reference to Rank Ranger’s daily algorithm monitoring service, “from March 15 through April 3, you’re talking like 16 days of volatility — that hasn’t happened the last few years.”
While your marketing teams may be in the process of making drastic shifts to strategies, SEO should remain consistent, concise, and true in white-hat SEO efforts. Variations in the way our customers are searching and shopping is inevitable, but what they (and Google crawlers) need is accuracy from the sites they visit. To be clear, we are talking about SEO basics—those little details you know you should do, but sometimes get pushed to the backburner for more ‘in-your-face’ updates that non-SEOs notice more.
Now is the time to get to your SEO best practices and schema.org to-do lists back out and checked off. Use a site-wide knowledge map to begin checking and updating the most important pages across your site to ensure they can be utilized for as many SERP features as possible. For pages that bring in a lot of revenue or answer potential search queries, all useful aspects need to have proper mark-up for Google to easily understand and serve those products and information to the right people.
Also, take note of the current content status across the site and devise an updated content strategy. While most eCommerce sites will need easy-to-see shipping and product availability updates, others will need a stand-alone COVID-19 page. Outside of COVID related information, take Google Trends into account for oscillating interest in pages or products that previously garnered little attention that are now booming (and vice versa). Building quality content around those subjects and important keywords will be useful in gaining and maintaining authority in SERPs.
While we are proposing content and markup updates, PLEASE do not rush any half-baked projects into production that could crash your site or cause Google to throw errors your way. Your dev team has enough to battle and your customers will leave your site more quickly than ever if it gives them a stressful time with new functions that do not work properly.
2. A sound SEO strategy is paramount to capitalizing in this newly (and almost exclusively) digital world.
Google has been making SERP updates to provide easier access to COVID-19 information and just released the May 2020 Core Update on May 4th. While this could bring a lot of rank fluctuation to your site, Google is still but valuing consistent, white-hat, quality sites with quality content that customers trust.
Patrick Reinhart, VP of Digital Strategies of Conductor mentioned in a Search Engine Land interview that the most important strategy an SEO team can have at this point is “planting the seeds and building for the future” to ensure the best outcome once this crisis is behind us.
As we previously mentioned, to help your site persevere through hard times, lean-in to SEO best practices you have implemented and make them stronger. Updating content and adding Schema markup is a great place to re-solidify your foundation.
Consumers no longer have the ability to ask in-store salespeople which product would work best for their needs—they have to ask the internet. SEOs need to understand that even with a spike in sales for areas like at-home work-out gear or food and home supplies, current and new customers still have questions that need valid answers.
Utilize schema.org product markup for reviews, ratings, pricing, color and even audience for rich snippets to boost your odds of acquiring featured snippets to gain sales from information seekers. If few markup prospects exist, begin working on new content now to gain opportunities. Remember, accurate answers build trust, and trust creates return customers.
For those who can offer Buy Online Pick Up In Store, this should be marked up so information seekers can quickly see they can get their hands on products in-person a lot quicker than waiting for the shipment to arrive. Of course, here is your friendly reminder to not dilute your code with unnecessary markup. If something can properly and accurately answer a question, mark it up, but if a similar markup exists, do not duplicate it.
Another aspect to re-evaluate is your internal linking. When was the last time you really investigated this logic? Hint: probably too long ago. Make sure you are strengthening your logic by connecting pages that are related to and help each-other; do not add 20 links to randomized pages because you think it makes your site look larger. The goal, again, is to make your foundation stronger, not to add winding staircases that lead to nothing.
3. The importance of holiday in 2020-Now is the time to begin planning.
Since shelter at home mandates began, retailers have been forced into online promotions for longer than originally expected in an attempt to regain lost in-store revenue. At this point, consumers practically expect most online purchases to come with a steep discount, but what does that mean for holiday 2020?
As a New York Times article highlighting the drastic retail landscape changes occurring during this pandemic pointed out, “Deborah Weinswig, founder of Coresight Research, an advisory and research firm that specializes in retail and technology, said she had spoken with retailers who were preparing for holiday sales to be 40 percent lower than last year.”
How will companies continue online discounts moving into holiday where items are not just expected, but required to be on sale in order to keep customers buying and coming back for more? Thankfully, that is not in the SEO realm of responsibilities, however, we are relied upon to make it easier, faster, and more reliable for consumers to get to our brands products. Begin devising plans for constantly fluctuating promotion markup on product and category levels. Nothing is worse than a customer clicking on a shopping result only to find the promotional price is no longer valid.
Once physical stores begin to re-open, foot traffic is bound to be lower and more intentional than pre-pandemic times, so useful product stories and descriptions will remain at the utmost importance. No matter the retailer size, if a consumer cannot find the details they need about a product, they can and will find it elsewhere.
You should also remind those outside of your normal colleagues that SEO should be considered to assist company-wide initiatives. Since brand loyalty is an instrumental piece of keeping revenue healthy, look into how you can further support your company’s loyalty program. Make sure your SEO team investigates loyalty pages and pop-ups to ensure they are not spammy, yet still supported within the hierarchy of the site and include proper markup. From email and social media to merchandising and analytics, SEO is at the foundation of the website with many aspects where proper markup utilization can assist in boosting sales
4. Hard times call for scalable solutions.
Many teams are working at reduced capacity due to furloughs, layoffs and lighter incoming revenue, so while you may have an idea of where to start, having the ability to move forward may be out of reach. This is where Altezza can step in with scalable solutions to fit your company’s needs.
From consulting and custom reports to creating automated, highly-targeted faceted navigation pages, our team is full of knowledgeable and helpful people that can assist an overloaded SEO team or even act in-place of one. No matter how big or small your website, we can help customize a solution for your team to move forward with the proper mix of knowledge, support and tools.
Consulting: Without the obstacle of integrating a new product, Altezza can research your site to find the best SEO solutions to hurdles you are confronting. This is a great option for SEO teams that still have room to move but don’t have time to dig into the details.
Technology Solutions: Altezza technology offers automated solutions to boost your bottom line as well as dedicated project management to bring clarity and additional agility to the team.
- Optimized Faceted Navigation Pages
- These hyper-categories (hypercats) are built with SEO best practices to capture long-tail traffic and conversions you’re currently missing, preserve crawl budget and expand search visibility at scale.
- Custom Landing Pages
- Our team can create and add fully customizable pages into current site hierarchy allowing flexibility and agility in staying on top of seasonal and long-tail trends. From merchandising and unique content to URLs and performance tracking, this capability is an SEO’s best friend.
- Scalable Optimization
- SEO best practices are not only important but automated with Altezza. With built-in optimization capabilities like title tags and schema.org markup to optimized copy and links on every page, our ever-evolving algorithms are here to save time and gain sessions.
- On-Page Content
- Who has the time or ability to create custom optimized content for every page of your website? We introduce to you: Altezza’s scalable boilerplate builder with automated critical SEO elements like Title tags, H1s, links, structured data and even meta-descriptions and content. With just a few clicks, you can introduce these aspects to swaths of pages.
- Automated Internal Linking
- Using AI, Altezza’s automated internal linking recognizes relevant pages and serves a list of featured links to insert into any page. This technology also utilizes natural language processing to embed contextual links.
- Custom Reporting & Analytics
- Altezza helps you understand your data by creating custom dashboards for what your team needs to know as well as offering actionable insights.
While SEO ROI is notoriously hard to pinpoint, it is no secret that SEO is necessary to maintain a healthy and successful website, especially in such volatile times. Whether your team needs a little boost, or your team needs a team, we are here to offer helpful hints and new technology to take your site higher. Whether your website is expansive or exclusive, Altezza can assist in not only identifying and explaining opportunities to solidify your site’s foundation, we also expand your reach to complete more projects and improve the bottom line.