Search and Social Media’s Impact During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Date: March 17, 2020

Instead of an "enter" button on their keyboard, this person's key reads "teleworking" as they work from home.

With the coronavirus wreaking havoc upon practically all functions of everyday life, many people aren’t sure what to do. Businesses are implementing work from home policies, the term “social distancing” has quickly been added to our everyday lexicon, sports seasons have been postponed or canceled, and the CDC has recommended that all events planned within the next 8 weeks with 50 or more guests be rescheduled. 

Furthermore, specific communities are feeling the impact of the coronavirus. New Rochelle, New York, is officially a containment zone. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has urged residents to stay indoors after 8 p.m. As we struggle to get on the same page and combat this virus, implementations such as these may only further increase in frequency. 

So many people are, for better or worse, stuck at home for long stretches of time, unsure of not only what their future holds in regard to this pandemic, but everyday life. In uncertain times like these, the importance of both search engines and social media cannot be underscored.

Why is Search So Important Right Now?

Working from home is quickly becoming the new standard practice for businesses and companies trying to combat the spread of COVID-19. Many service industries are indefinitely closed. Schools across the nation are closing for varied amounts of time. Because of this, so many people are practicing self-quarantining and social distancing, leaving them at home with their computers. As you can probably imagine, with decreased options, people are turning to Google now more than ever. 

Since you’ve started working from home and practicing social distancing, how many times have you Googled something, or asked your personal assistants, like Alexa or Siri? With everyone spending an increased amount of time indoors, we have no one to ask but the search engines and our assistants. 

The increased percentage of search queries can be seen as proof that, even in this unprecedented cultural moment, businesses should not limit their search marketing reach. With so few other options, people are using Google now more than ever, so why pigeonhole your business when search marketing teams are actively working from home to get their clients’ websites up to date and on the SERPs.

Limiting Face to Face Contact

Social distancing is the practice of removing yourself from unnecessary human interaction.

This is the time of year when trade shows and marketing events hit their stride. The winter weather is finally making way for warmer, more palatable temperatures and everyone is ready to start increasing their networking efforts. Unfortunately, with COVID-19, many trade shows and marketing events have already had to postpone or cancel these meetings. 

Facebook’s F8 event, SXSW Conference, NERCA’s Convention and Trade Show, the New York International Auto Show, E3 Gaming Conference, Google’s I/O event, and countless other conferences have been delayed because of the virus. With all of these events not happening, everyone is missing out on that valuable face time gained through marketing conferences. 

Think about all of the casual conversations you have that lead to recommendations and sales. Casual, unplanned conversations often naturally lead to helpful suggestions. “My roof caved in. Do you know any good roofing contractors?” “My grass is getting too long. Do you know any good landscapers in the area?” “My family’s planning on moving. Do you know any moving companies within the county?” Thanks to COVID-19, these conversations are no longer happening. 

Instead of having these conversations with a friend or colleague, most people are now having these conversations with their search engines. This is unfortunate for the marketers and those businesses that thrive due to success at trade shows, but it does not mean you’re out of luck! During uncertain times like this, you can always turn to a search marketing firm to increase your business’s SEO efforts!

The Economic Side of the Coronavirus

Graphs representing the stock market crash caused by the Coronavirus

As you’ve probably seen through news coverage, the stock market is acting especially erratically and unpredictably due to this worldwide pandemic. Just last week, the stock market faced its worst week since 1987’s infamous Black Monday. This Monday morning, the S&P 500 dropped 8%, resulting in a 15 minute trading halt right after the opening bell was rung. Needless to say, people are starting to panic. People are beginning to make comparisons to the 2008 stock market crash that resulted in “The Great Recession” where markets fell 49% over a 16 month period. 

Businesses are already starting to see the irrefutable effects of this. With so many offices closing their doors and implementing work from home policies, less business is coming in. Looking at many retail shops, restaurants, and venues having to close their doors indefinitely without a work from home policy, the situation’s economic severity becomes obvious. Not being able to meet face to face, combined with many people’s justified fears of going outside to spend as they usually would, is yielding uncertainty. 

Some companies are still paying employees despite no work getting done, in addition to leases and licensing that are, currently, not doing anything for their business. In an attempt to “trim the fat” off of their budget during this time of distress, some companies are considering halting work with their current SEO firm. 

However, this could actually be the worst possible time to consider doing this. 

Search Engine Optimization’s Role in This Crisis

With everyone left with no choice but to work from home, many people are turning to Google to answer their everyday questions.

With increased searches resulting from everyone being stuck at home, now is the most important time for businesses to make sure that they are ranking and showing up in SERPs. As the leader of a business that’s been forced to indefinitely close its doors, you might be thinking that this doesn’t apply to you, but it actually does. 

Even if your business is temporarily closed, you’ll still want potential customers to be aware of not only your brand, but the products and/or services your business offers. When we, as a globe, are all “back to normal” you’ll want customers and clients to still be aware of your brand. 

Some marketers are positing that, during this unparalleled time of isolation and self-quarantine, searcher’s intent may be different that of a typical mid-March afternoon, but this is still no reason to hit pause on your search marketing efforts. While a user’s specific intent may change, you can still try to rank for their query so that they’ll be driven to your website and, at the very least, they’ll become aware of your brand for when this outbreak is contained and in our rear view mirror. 

Furthermore, search engine optimization is an ongoing process that yields its best results through long-term engagement. Because of this, it is not an industry when hitting the pause button is advocated for.

Rising in the SERPs is not an overnight process. It typically takes months of constant engagement, including but not limited to the steady production of new content, increased efforts on the site’s technical elements, backlink efforts, and many other elements that, together, make up an actionable search marketing strategy. All of these elements take time to implement, and the results are typically not immediately apparent. It takes time to start rising in the SERPs. 

While ending an engagement with a search marketing firm will not immediately result in a decine for your rating on the SERPs, it will, without a doubt, prevent your website from further rising in the results pages. With so many businesses moving to remote work in an effort to combat this virus, people are starting to see the irrefutable benefits of search engine optimization and actively jumping on the SEO bandwagon. Would you want your competitor to see this as their opportunity to finally outrank you as they engage in search marketing?

Social Media’s Role in This Crisis

Stuck working from home, people are simultaneously scrolling social media on their laptops and their mobile phones.

Depending on where you live, your specific town or county may have enacted emergency preventative measures to combat COVID-19. Many counties, and even states, are implementing nightly curfews, while others are fully quarantined. No matter what the specifics of your ordinance, one thing remains the same: we’re all stuck inside, at least at night. 

Not only are we all about to be spending much more time indoors, but countless retail establishments, restaurants, movie theaters, and an abundance of other establishments are indefinitely closed, leaving many people, at least for the time being, out of work. Stuck at home with nothing to do, people are turning to social media. 

It’s especially apparent now, but within the past few years, social media has become a primary new source for the majority of people. With news organizations, celebrities, athletes, and your friends all able to populate your timeline with information, social media has redefined how this generation consumes news. 

When so many people are out of work, lying on their couches, and streaming television, what else are they going to do but constantly refresh and scroll through Twitter and Instagram?

 Many business owners are failing to understand that, in the midst of this COVID-19 outbreak, they absolutely should not consider ending or temporarily pausing their social media efforts. People are dependent on social media to keep them updated throughout this crisis. However, this is a fantastic opportunity to not only highlight some of your new products or services, but to gain some good PR by reminding your customers and followers that you care. 

Your brand actually has the opportunity to gain many new followers during this time. Why not broaden your audience by allowing your timeline to become a news source of its own? Countless people are at home tweeting, whether it’s journalists updating their articles or civilians making note of the news and posting memes. Why not start retweeting credible news sources so that your followers can be directly informed by your page? 

This tactic is also extremely applicable to Facebook and Instagram. Your business’s Facebook page is a fantastic opportunity to leverage not only information about your specific business as it relates to the coronavirus, but overarching news as well. The same goes for your Instagram. You can utilize a combination of stories and posts to capture your followers attention and, hopefully, gain more followers as well. 

In a time like this, where everyone is forced into isolation, social media is sure to thrive. Why limit your businesses reach by lessening your social media efforts during this outbreak? These platforms allow you to keep your customers up to date and your customers to keep your brand on their mind. 

What Can Businesses Do to Cut Costs?

Financial and budget planning concept with calculator  notebook and financial chart report on work desk

As a business leader, you’re rightfully concerned about COVID-19’s impact on your business’s finances. These uncertain times are making everyone nervous, and for good reason. We really aren’t sure of what even the next week holds. During this time, there are some actionable items that leaders can consider implementing instead of cutting their most essential elements. 

Limit Company Travel

The airports are already on high alert, and many people have begun cancelling their travel plans in favor of self-quarantining. Because of this, you shouldn’t have difficulty limiting, or completely postponing, your company’s travel plans. Readjusting your budget to account for these cancelled travel costs should be beneficial. 

Limit Company Meals and Entertainment 

If you’re one of the countless companies implementing a work from home policy to combat COVID-19, you shouldn’t have difficulty with this suggestion, but other companies with still open doors should consider finding a balance between limiting food and entertainment costs while still showing value to their employees. 

Of course, this could vary depending on your industry, as those still physically at work should feel appreciated and valued, as they’re going against the government’s preventative guidelines to be there for your business. 

Closely Inspect Your Budget

It’s important to consider limiting or completely reallocating funds from elements that aren’t essential to your company’s culture as we continue combating the coronavirus. It’s likely that your company’s weekly happy hour will have to temporarily cease, as more and more bars are closing their doors. Many businesses are implementing a hiring freeze until this outbreak passes. An abundance of companies across industries have begun redistributing their workflow from contractors to their permanent workforce. There are many specific considerations business owners can make that will not negatively affect their search marketing efforts. 

If, before COVID-19 stole our collective attention, you were considering getting rid of an online tool or resource that you’ve been subscribing to, this period of social distancing could be your perfect opportunity to revisit this item. Similarly, if you’re unhappy with your office’s lease, this could be a good time to set up a video conference with your landlord or property manager to have that discussion. If your landlord is looking for you to keep your office space, consider proposing an adjustment during this trying time. 

As we, as an international community, continue to combat COVID-19 and the uncertainty it’s causing across all elements of our everyday lives, there are some business areas you absolutely will not want to cut back on. Legal, search marketing, and accounting are all incredibly important, since those three industries will be where you look for help when an issue arises. 

As COVID-19 continues to spread, many are predicting an increase in wrongful termination suits. Also, with so many working from home, we’re expecting more real estate transactions to take place. Both of these examples would be made infinitely easier with an active legal partner by your side (via video conference, of course). During this uncertain time, there could be perhaps no more important moment to have strong, intuitive eyes on your business’s budget and spend, so you’ll want to keep your accounting team up to date and on top of their work. If you want to have audiences and potential customers still aware of your business and brand for when this outbreak concludes, definitely don’t consider halting your search marketing engagement!

If the coronavirus outbreak has caused you to start seeing the benefits of Search Engine Optimization and you’d like to learn more about how the team at 9Sail can help, click here for additional information!