SEO & COVID-19: How to Rank for Questions People Will Ask

The pandemic that is COVID-19 has brought many businesses to their knees – or at least to the point of rethinking their marketing strategies and business structure.

Whether you’ve had to close your physical doors or have been struggling to drum up new business online, it’s likely that your SEO strategy has also been affected.

COVID-19 has shifted SEO in more ways than one, but for the purpose of this article, we are going to discuss how these shifts relate to one’s website content strategy.

Specifically, we’ll reveal how businesses can brace against COVID-19’s impact by ranking for related questions in organic search.

Considerations for ‘Essential’ vs. ‘Non-Essential’ Businesses During COVID-19

But first, it’s worth noting that COVID-19 has affected certain industries differently.

If you are deemed an “essential” business, it may be business “as usual” or you might have even seen an uptick in traffic.

If “non-essential”, perhaps you have had to downsize, close up shop, pivot to working remotely, etc.

In order to rank for questions people will ask during and after COVID-19, what you do must be somehow related to what’s occurring during the virus.

Simply adding to the noise by targeting Coronavirus-related keywords won’t provide value to your prospective customers or convince them to buy from you.

Therefore, before creating COVID-19-related content, consider:

  • Is this topic relevant to what you offer and the people you serve?
  • Will targeting Coronavirus-related keywords land your business in hot water?
  • Is it ethical for you to create content about this topic, especially if it is opinion-based vs. fact-based?
  • Will you face certain restrictions (getting flagged by YouTube, getting posts removed on Facebook, etc.) if you post about these topics?

As much as it may be “smart” to take advantage of the high search volume behind some of these keywords, you need to consider the impact this content may have on your brand.

Your brand’s reputation and your customers take priority over all else.

Ranking for Questions During COVID-19

Search behavior is likely to shift during this period as consumers have varying priorities, potentially limited expendable income, new anxieties, etc.

You’ll need to adapt your SEO content strategy to accommodate these shifts, which may mean targeting COVID-related keywords.

Questions like “How did coronavirus start” (vol= 9900) and “How is the coronavirus spread” (vol= 2900) are already attracting thousands of searches since COVID-19 hit the news, so you’re likely to see a slew of keywords that worth targeting on your site.

Here are some tips for how to rank for COVID-19-related questions to provide information to your audience and even increase your brand’s online visibility.

1. Research Coronavirus-Related Keywords

The easiest way to find COVID-19-related questions to rank for is to simply conduct research using your chosen keyword research tool.

SEMrush and Ahrefs both allow you to do a search for “coronavirus” or “covid-19” and then find related keywords that might be worth targeting on your site.

The key here is to find keywords that are actually relevant to your audience or business, or keywords where you can at least add your spin to make it relevant to your site.

For example, simply targeting “what is coronavirus” might have you up against some of the highest authority medical industry sites, but it may be worth it to write an article like “What Does the Coronavirus Mean for B2B Business Owners” or similar.

Also, pay attention to competition level, as it may be difficult to compete with major news outlets, the CDC, and others when targeting broad Coronavirus-related terms.

2. Survey Your Audience

If you’re completely stumped on what questions to rank for, consider surveying your audience to find out what topics they are interested in.

This can be effective if you have an engaged social media following or email list.

You can ask your audience: “What concerns do you have about the Coronavirus as it related to [topic/business/etc.}?”

Some possible topics that might come up include:

  • “How do I get more clients during COVID-19?”
  • “How do I stay focused while working from home?”
  • “Should I invest or save my money during COVID-19?”
  • “How do I take out a small business loan?”

Your audience can be a great source of ideas, and since you have already asked them what they’re interested in, you can be confident that they will engage with your content once it’s published.

Their ideas might also direct you toward some keywords you might not have thought of on your own.

3. Create a Dedicated Coronavirus Page

If you find that your audience has a lot of Coronavirus-related questions, it might make sense to make a dedicated Coronavirus page.

This could take on a sort of pillar post structure where you give a summary of how the Coronavirus impacts your audience and then expand to more specific questions.

In doing this, you can target short-tail and long-tail keywords while consolidating all of this information on your site.

Add contextual internal links as individual pages begin to rank in the search results.

4. Update FAQs on Your Website

With all the changes that have been taking place, are you certain that your website is up-to-date?

You should certainly update information on your site if you:

  • Have closed your physical office.
  • Have removed or added certain services.
  • Have downsized your support team.
  • Have made other changes in your business.

Review your existing customer support and FAQ pages to see whether any of this information or specific language needs to be updated in lieu of what’s happening with COVID-19.

You might discover some additional Coronavirus-related questions worth targeting on these pages.

5. Publish More Video Content

Coronavirus-related keyword searches have risen on YouTube as well.

If you’re not set on creating new blog content, you might consider publishing video-based content.

You can leverage SEO data (using tools like TubeBuddy) to find these keywords and inform your video topics.

Then, you can create “top of the funnel” videos that target questions users are looking for and lead them to information about your services and products.

6. Avoid Clickbait or Misleading Content

Clearly, there have been a lot of sensationalist articles circulating around and I do not recommend adding to the panic as this might hurt your brand’s credibility.

You don’t want to deter prospective customers by ticking them off with clickbaity-articles.

If you’re going to provide information related to COVID-19, make sure it is well-researched, accurate, and valuable.

Weigh the cost of landing your brand in hot water versus generating a bit more traffic for your site.

7. Reference Cleaning/Sanitization Care for Products

For retail stores, online sellers, and ecommerce businesses, it may be worth creating content related to the care and cleansing of your products – since everyone is concerned about keeping things sanitized and staying healthy.

Terms like “how to clean airpods” (vol=40.5k) or “how to clean a mousepad” (vol=5400) clearly receive ample search volume, so you might be able to tie in Coronavirus-related terms to generate some traffic.

Adding this information to your site may help you capture search traffic as your customers search for ways to clean certain products and stay healthy during COVID-19.

8. Monitor Google Updates & SERP Changes

The goal with the majority of this content is to build up your E-A-T signals so Google is likely to rank your site for COVID-19-related questions.

But Google is likely to tweak their algorithm over time in order to filter out misinformation and scammers.

You’ll need to stay on top of these updates in order to:

  • Create content that’s likely to rank.
  • Avoid creating content that will get you wiped from the SERPs.

Be aware of any changes that make occur in the SERPs and what they might mean for your website.

Is It Smart to Create COVID-19-Related Content?

It’s possible to create Coronavirus-related content that ranks if you do so with care and focus on the value you are providing to your audience.

If your goal is simply to be opportunistic, you risk losing trust with your customers and getting your content buried in the SERPs or on YouTube.

Targeting questions people may ask during COVID-19 is smart if you are providing valuable information to your audience.

Consider how the virus is impacting your business and your customers and create content that instills faith in your brand.

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