Always Be Optimizing: SEO During Times of Uncertainty

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By Miva | June 8, 2020
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The situation surrounding COVID-19 is continuing to change the ecommerce landscape. Online merchants are navigating this rapidly-changing environment, finding it challenging to predict trends and consumer priorities. Some online merchants have experienced drops in site traffic, while others have seen interest in their products skyrocket as socially-distant consumers turn to online shopping and change their buying habits.

Because of the current uncertainty, it can be difficult to make informed decisions about long-term endeavors like SEO. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do now to stay agile during the current situation and competitive in the long run.

In this article we’ll share different tactics that online merchants can use to optimize their SEO right now and set their websites up for long-term success.

Why exploring SEO opportunities is important during uncertain times:

  • SEO is a long-term investment and worth sustaining. Stopping SEO activities in times of uncertainty will set back previous achievements and you’ll have to catch up afterwards.
  • Some businesses (including your competitors) are pulling back on SEO efforts for the time being. This presents a unique opportunity to claim search engine real estate while competition is slower than usual.
  • With physical store closures prompting consumers to shop online, ecommerce merchants have the opportunity to win new business. With a frictionless search and buying experience, you have the chance to keep these new buyers online and turn them into longtime customers.
  • Online search volume has been increasing and will continue to do so as people grow more accustomed finding what they need online.

Here’s what you need to do to bolster your SEO during uncertain times:

Discover What Buyers are Looking for Right Now

Search habits and intent have definitely shifted during the pandemic. Due to changing regulations surrounding things like which stores can open their physical locations, online demand for goods varies across states, industries, and over time. Free tools like Google Analytics, Google Trends, Google Search Console, AnswerThePublic and MOZ Keyword Explorer can help you to stay on top of the latest search trends and keywords.

Conduct a Blog Audit

If you have a blog on your website, an audit can help you to develop a quantitative and qualitative perspective of your content. The data yielded by a thorough blog audit can give you insights into how people use your blog and consume the information therein. This data can also help you detect any change to your audience’s habits in the recent past. Having the most up-to-date information about what your target market is consuming can help inform your SEO efforts going forward.

Here are the main steps to take during a blog audit:

  1. Create a list of all content pieces in your blog and their respective URLs in a spreadsheet or with an SEO analysis tool.
  2. Collect data points that help you understand what’s happening on your blog. Important questions to ask right now are: Which pieces have seen an increase in traffic/higher keyword ranking in recent weeks? Do people stay on the content pages that they entered through a search engine or are they bouncing off of the page?
  3. Establish what your next steps will be for each content piece. You don’t have to optimize all pieces on your blog at this point, but categorizing them and assigning action items is a big step on your way to an optimized blog. Ask yourself which pieces might become relevant in the upcoming weeks and look for potential optimizations that you can apply to better serve your audience going forward.
  4. Monitor your website traffic continuously, referencing your spreadsheet to track changes and identify patterns. This will allow you to react quickly to emerging trends.

Use What Works

You can use the findings from your blog audit to decide which pieces are worth optimizing right now. Think about how you can transform high-performing pieces into something timely and valuable. This could be something as simple as including a top-performing article in your next email blast or converting a successful webinar into a downloadable PDF guide.

Consumption of video content is up during COVID-19 and formats like home videos have become the new norm. If some of your existing pieces have the potential to be adapted into video content, this could be an excellent opportunity for you to explore a new medium. Take a look at your more popular blogs consider how you can translate their main points into a quick, accessible, sharable videos.

Update Your Metadata

Your site’s metadata, the information that tells search engines and users what they’ll find on your site, plays a crucial role in helping your site and products be found by the right people. Let’s say you are selling blue wool socks. Your metadata should explicitly say that you are selling socks, and that they are special because they are wool. You can enhance these descriptions with specifics, adding colors, sizes, and other product features as needed. That way, when someone is looking for blue woolen socks, there is a better chance they will find your product in their search results.

It is important to keep this information up to date, especially if the focus of your business has been influenced by the current situation.

Here are some things you should be aware of when writing metadata:

  • Make sure your meta titles and their associated meta descriptions are consistent.
  • Create concise meta titles that speak to your target audience and make it clear what they can expect from your page.
  • Pull your audience onto your page by using gripping calls-to-action.
  • Check the metadata character limits imposed by popular search engines and make sure your metadata is compliant.
  • Include keywords from your research but avoid keyword stuffing, as this could decrease your rating on most search engines.
  • Address your prospective buyers’ immediate needs by including your location, shipping, and return information in your meta descriptions.

Offer Valuable Content

Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, searchers are looking for comprehensive and trustworthy information. Be helpful, address the situation, and look for ways your brand, products, and team can offer comfort and support.

  • Streamlined messaging is an important part of a positive customer experience. Every touch point customers have with your website should convey the same message.
  • Update your key pages (Home Page, About Page, most successful blog posts, FAQ page, etc.) to reflect the current situation and your reaction to it.
  • Establish Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T). Google prioritizes results that demonstrate E-A-T to ensure that search results are as effective and helpful as possible. Adding details like sizing, product dimensions, or cleaning and care instructions in your product descriptions can be one way to strengthen E-A-T signals and help your customers feel safe.

Lay the Groundwork for Ongoing Efforts

Don’t lose sight of what’s next while you are working in a rapidly changing environment. Continue to adhere to best practices and consider your long-term goals when making any adjustments to your digital strategy.

By continuing to optimize your SEO during times of uncertainty, you can help your business sustain momentum, stay in touch with consumer needs, and seize opportunities as they arise.

The Online Seller’s SEO Survival Guide

About The Author

Magdalena Buchwald

A member of the Miva marketing team, Magdalena Buchwald is focused on helping online merchants thrive in an increasingly complex ecommerce landscape. Magdalena holds a Master’s degree in Media and Communication Research and spends her free time knitting wool socks and adventuring with her guinea pig, Edda. Find her on LinkedIn.

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Miva offers a flexible and adaptable ecommerce platform that evolves with businesses and allows them to drive sales, maximize average order value, cut overhead costs, and increase revenue. Miva has been helping businesses realize their ecommerce potential for over 20 years and empowering retail, wholesale, and direct-to-consumer sellers across all industries to transform their business through ecommerce.

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