The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on almost every aspect of our lives. Initial strict lockdown measures required all but essential workers to ‘stay at home’ to prevent the spread of the virus. This resulted in many businesses temporarily closing or changing operations to ensure the safety of employees and customers.

As lockdown measures continue to ease, many businesses have now returned from temporary closure, or are planning to. To support this return, we asked Adam Tuson from TDMP, some questions on how digital marketing can be used to make the most of returning consumer demand and market recovery.

Ayse, A4G: How has Covid-19 changed consumer behaviour?

Adam, TDMP: Stricter lockdown measures not only changed the way we lived and worked, but also the way we behaved as consumers. The closure of non-essential shops and services, and requests for the public to limit essential shopping trips resulted in the majority of consumers turning to online retailers to fulfil non-essential needs.

Online streaming services, DIY and garden suppliers were just some of the sectors which were able to make the most of an increase in online demand. Being able to reach customers using online channels, maintain brand awareness and adapt their operations allowed them to experience a ‘boost’ in sales in lockdown.

TDMP found that clients who shared online content related to COVID-19 safety measures they were putting in place also saw a boost in organic search visibility and sessions, and in some cases brand awareness.

Although some sectors experienced an uplift during lockdown, many saw a decline in demand as a result of a fall in consumer confidence.

YouGov collects consumer confidence data every day, interviewing 6,000 people per month. In April, 6 of the 8 metrics YouGov uses to measure consumer confidence fell – with 85% of Britons believing nationwide unemployment will rise in the coming year.

With a recession predicted, and many households experiencing a drop in income as a result of furlough schemes, businesses need to ensure they prepare, plan and adapt to the increase in online shopping and changes to consumer behaviour.

Ayse, A4G: How can businesses measure market recovery?

Adam, TDMP: The priority questions for business owners right now are; when will consumer demand return and how long will it take for the market to recover?

One way to measure consumer demand is to review online search engine data and keyword search volumes. Search volume refers to the number of times a word or query has been searched – and is an indicator of what consumers are searching for.

As businesses prepare for market recovery it is important to research how consumers are behaving online. Both offline and online businesses can use this type of search data to measure consumer demand.

Ayse, A4G: How can businesses become more visible online?

Adam, TDMP: Although lockdown restrictions are easing, research conducted by Visa suggests that many people predict they will continue to shop online where possible.

Surveying 2,000 UK respondents, Visa found that 9 in 10 Brits used online shopping since the restrictions came into force, with 31% reporting this was their first time. 34% of respondents also said they now prefer shopping online to physical retailers.

With consumers moving online, businesses now need to focus on their online visibility. There is no point in having a fantastic product or service if no one can find it. SEO (organic) and PPC (paid for) are digital marketing techniques that can be used to make a business ‘visible’ to audiences they are trying to reach online.

Businesses that have paused SEO activity as a result of Covid-19 are likely to have seen their online visibility fall.

Many sites have closed permanently as a result of the pandemic, and this has resulted in a decline in the backlink profiles and technical site health of other websites, both of which are key Google ranking factors.

Ayse, A4G: What is organic search visibility?

Adam, TDMP: In digital marketing the term ‘organic’ refers to website traffic which is not paid for. No money is exchanged with search engines to achieve organic visibility and traffic. Instead, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) techniques are used to optimise a website so it appears higher in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Research shows that the higher a website appears in search results, the more likely it is to be clicked on. Analysis of 5 million Google search results by Backlinko found that the site which appears in the #1 position receives 31.7% of all clicks and is 10 times more likely to be clicked on than the site in #10 position.

Google uses hundreds of factors to determine where a website appears in search results and is secretive about exactly which factors have the biggest impact. The factors which determine the rank of a website in search results range from technical factors, such as a site’s architecture, to how user-friendly a site’s content and pages are.

SEO is a long-term digital marketing strategy which can deliver long-term results. Research by the Search Engine Journal found that almost 50% of businesses said that organic search traffic delivered the highest ROI of all digital channels.

Ayse, A4G: What is paid search visibility?

Adam, TDMP: Paid search visibility is traffic that comes from PPC (Pay-Per-Click) search ads. Unlike organic results, to appear in SERPs for keywords, brands ‘bid’ and pay per every click they receive. The cost of a click is dependent on a range of factors – such as the position of an ad, how many other businesses want to appear for that keyword, and the number of times that keyword is searched.

Unlike SEO, there is no ‘wait’ involved when using PPC search ads. Ads can be used to ensure a business appears first, above organic results, for specific keywords straight away. This strategy can be used to ensure a business is visible, until SEO allows them to appear higher in organic results – or to ‘boost’ visibility to make the most of a new opportunity.

PPC search ads can be expensive, but with the right strategy, testing and optimisations – campaigns can deliver leads and sales for an acceptable acquisition cost.

Ayse, A4G: Should businesses invest in SEO or PPC?

Adam, TDMP: SEO and PPC have their pros and cons. A digital marketing strategy, which takes into account short and long term goals, often concludes that SEO and PPC should be used together, in ratios in line with business objectives.

When it comes to considering how a business can make the most of market recovery, PPC can be used to make sure a business appears first, above all competitors, right now. This can be important for businesses wanting to recover and ‘sweep up’ the immediate surge of customers when lockdown measures ease.

Whilst PPC ensures immediate visibility, SEO can then take place in the background and can ensure that when the market does fully recover – a website is in the best ‘health’ to rank highly. COVID-19 has resulted in many websites pausing and stopping the efforts they put into maintaining their websites, which presents an opportunity for those willing to invest in SEO – to step ahead.

When SEO techniques pay off, and a website begins to rank in high positions for target keywords, PPC campaigns can be reduced, or even turned off, reducing acquisition costs and increasing ROI.

An SEO audit is essential to establishing the ‘health’ of a website. Once this is established, a digital marketing strategy can be developed and can determine the best digital channels to use as markets recover.

Ayse, A4G: What is an SEO audit?

Adam, TDMP: An SEO audit reveals the ‘health’ of a website in relation to how this affects where a site appears in organic search results. It identifies what needs to be ‘fixed’ to increase the visibility of a website and whether a website is appearing for the right search results to achieve business objectives.

The results of an audit shape a website’s digital strategy. As well as technical issues, an audit can be used to determine if a business should focus primarily on SEO, or if PPC should be used to ‘boost’ visibility until organic search positions can be improved.

TDMP are offering a free SEO audit to all A4G clients so if your website is critical to your business and you are concerned it may not be performing as well as it could, please do get in touch with Adam Tuson, MD of TDMP at adam@tdmp.co.uk.

Ayse, A4G: When should businesses start SEO?

Adam, TDMP: In short, yesterday! SEO is a long-term strategy and the effect of changes can take time. If demand in your sector hasn’t returned in full, take the opportunity to start SEO so your business is as visible as it can be when the market recovers fully. Compared to other digital channels, like PPC, SEO is relatively low cost and if successful can deliver a better ROI than paid channels.

Google continues to downrank websites with poor health and backlink profiles, and as the markets improve recovering lost rank will be harder. Fixing and optimising websites now will ensure that when search demand returns, websites will be in the best position to recover and even improve rank, especially if competitors are slower to start or restart SEO.

To grab your free SEO audit, or if you’d like any further advice and support in increasing your organic and paid reach, email adam@tdmp.co.uk.

Contact me today!

Ayse Kayabasi

Inbound Marketing Manager

01474 853856

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