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As New York eases into its fourth and final phase of reopening following the COVID-19 lockdown, local businesses have been rejoicing all around. While many businesses—especially e-commerce stores—were managing just fine during the pandemic, the large majority of local stores took a hit.
As things take a turn for the better, companies are gearing up for the new normal to piece their KPIs back together.
But what is the new normal?
Well, for starters, it’s closely interlinked with SEO. While the lockdown is coming to a close, the pandemic hasn’t relinquished its grip on New York. If anything, statewide safety and precautionary measures are on the rise to prevent the resurgence of cases.
While New York businesses were hopeful about departing from COVID-19-based SEO campaigns, it may take months or years before that transition is feasible.
Here’s a snippet of the nationwide search preferences over the past few months (retrieved from Google Trends):
Despite reaching its zenith in the first week of March, search interest in the coronavirus hasn’t disappeared. Notice how it subsists long after June.
In fact, if you take a closer look, you’ll find that coronavirus-based searches are at par with news-based searches, and have a higher density than music or sports-based searches.
Here’s a glimpse:
If you were already planning to extricate any influence of COVID-19 from your technical, on-page, and off-page SEO efforts, you may want to think again.
To make things simpler, we’ve rounded up some ways you can tailor your New York-based SEO campaigns to attract relevant audiences that are actively searching for COVID-19-related content.
Let’s dive in!
1. Start With Your Social Media Strategy
As an integral part of SEO, social signals can significantly impact your rankings. Google’s partnership with Twitter is further proof that social media plays a major role in search engine result page (SERP) placement.
Among the dozens of social signals that can make or break your rankings, the number of followers, tweets, and Facebook shares stands out.
Whether you run an online beauty store in Manhattan or offer cyber security services in The Bronx, your social media SEO strategy should be top-tier. If you haven’t customized your campaigns in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to create a winning game plan stat.
Focus on establishing a genuine and wholesome connection with your audience. According to research, an astounding 79% of customers admit that they’re more likely to purchase from a business that cares about its customers. And while support and empathy have always been valued, they’ve never been needed as much as they are right now.
As the ongoing period of fear, uncertainty, and chaos continues, your encouragement and kindness can go a long way in helping people feel more comforted and inspired.
Improve your brand identity by actively engaging with customers and sharing motivational posts that brighten their day.
Starbucks’ short, sweet, and appreciative posts are a great example of how to go about this the right way:
Please embed image 1: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_2QPLzls7h/
We also recommend actively responding to complaints in an empathetic and supportive manner. Not only will this increase customer engagement and retention, but it’ll also help you get a much-needed boost in your follower count.
According to research, 71% of customers are more likely to share positive brand experiences with friends and family members. If an encounter stands out in particular, they may post it on social media as well.
These recommendations and mentions will help you gain more customers, increase high-quality traffic, and grow your business.
Airbnb’s impressive COVID-19-friendly social media SEO strategy and customer service have helped them earn high praise from customers across New York.
Here’s an example of one of the many comments on their posts:
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We recommend continuing these social media SEO strategies in the long run to improve brand credibility and reputability. You can also look into reputation management services for New York businesses to further increase brand trustworthiness.
2. Create Relevant, Value-Added, and Optimized Content
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, content has taken the front seat.
“Wasn’t content always in the front seat?”
A valid argument. However, the recent unprecedented spike in internet use has increased the demand for blogs and articles like never before.
According to research, the pandemic has caused:
As the fourth most populous U.S. state, New York has been at the epicenter of this flux. If you haven’t shifted your efforts to creating relevant, value-added, and optimized content, you may be leaving a wide block of audience unengaged.
We suggest uprooting, examining, adjusting, and replanting your content marketing strategy. This four-step process is integral to ensure you’re targeting local consumers that are actively searching for COVID-19-related content.
Start with keyword research. Use Google Trends to keep up with daily search insights.
Here’s a snippet of these trends:
Customize your search for New York or the specific cities and towns that your business operates in. These insights will help you get an overview of the top COVID-19-related trends.
We also recommend using Google Keyword Planner or getting in touch with SEO keyword research specialists to ensure you’re equipped with a set of relevant, high-ranking, and high-volume keywords. Incorporate short-tail, long-tail, primary, and LSI keywords into your content to increase your chances of appearing on the first SERP.
With over 75% of customers refusing to scroll past the first page, appearing among the top search results will help you get more clicks and conversions.
In addition, focus on key on-page SEO strategies—especially title tags, meta descriptions, alt text, header tags, optimized URLs, and canonical tags.
If you run an online clothing store, come up with relevant and creative titles accordingly. For instance, a blog titled “X Chic and Comfortable Work-From-Home Outfit Ideas” is a great way to engage customers that are working from home due to the pandemic.
Of course, don’t forget to incorporate location-friendly keywords into your content.
Here are some great ways you can optimize your content to ensure it appears among the top local search results.
3. Continually Update Your Google My Business Page
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Image Alt Text: updated and optimized Google My Business profile
Ensuring your Google My Business page is up to date is a great way to break into the coveted Google 3-Pack.
Actively share high-quality images and videos of your products/services, behind-the-scenes processes, and work-from-home adjustments.
In many cases, your customers may post images/videos of them using your products/services. We suggest getting their consent and sharing the content on your Google My Business profile. These strategies will help your business stand out from the crowd and actively climb SERPs.
Ensure NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency across the board to enable Google’s algorithm to effectively crawl, index, and rank your web pages.
In addition, take your time to fill the gaps on your profile. If you haven’t added relevant categories, shared FAQs, or filled out essential information that could help customers, you’ll notice a drop in rankings.
Spending a few hours to assiduously complete your profile will end up paying off in the long run!
We also recommend making a list of all the relevant changes your business has undergone in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Did you change your business hours?
Did you expand your product line?
Did you temporarily cancel certain services?
Share these key details on your Google My Business profile to keep existing and potential customers in the loop. Actively optimizing your profile will help you grow your local audience and watch the numbers consistently go up!
4. Add a COVID-19 Update Page to Your Website
While sharing updates on Google My Business is important, it’s not enough.
Your website is the first and strongest impression you make on customers. If you haven’t created an SEO-friendly COVID-19 update page, you may be inadvertently hurting your business.
We suggest drafting an informative, engaging, and succinct update page that helps your readers get a quick overview of key evolvements. You may have to tweak the page on a weekly or monthly basis depending on essential business changes.
Include a call-to-action (CTA) button towards the end of the page to redirect your customers to your products/services. In addition, use on-page SEO elements (outlined above) to ensure your page is easily searchable.
5. Focus on Requesting Relevant Reviews
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Image Alt Text: New York business managers analyzing their online reviews
Reviews are a gold mine for businesses. Whether you receive positive reviews and feedback on Google My Business, social media, or your website, your business will get a much-needed boost in rankings.
91% of customers read online reviews. And that’s not all. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends or family members.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, people are increasingly searching for reviews that help them gauge how specific products/services perform during the ongoing crisis. The last thing a customer wants is to purchase a vacuum cleaner, only to realize that it requires extensive repairs at a time when visiting repair shops isn’t feasible.
This measure is specifically important for businesses that offer services that require close contact. If you offer massage services, a customer review that focuses on your expert protective arrangements will give your business a great boost.
Encourage your customers to share reviews on how well your products/services performed during the pandemic. This will help potential customers give your business preference over your competitors.
Mastering the art of New York SEO services without losing sight of the relevance of COVID-19 isn’t optional; it’s non-negotiable. As the competition becomes more fierce, devising a winning campaign will help you rank higher, increase visitor-to-lead conversions, and touch up your brand identity.
About the Author
Joseph Dyson is a senior account manager at Search Berg—a leading full-scale SEO agency in New York. Over the years, he has helped countless small business and large companies implement actionable SEO strategies and establish a winning online identity. He has over 15 years of experience in web development, lead generation, and digital marketing.