Several lifetimes ago in 2019, we watched emerging trends like buy-online, pick up in store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, SEO, and the rise of ecommerce. How quaint those times were. Now these ‘trends’ are how American families get their goods, thanks to our national leadership’s indifference to a global pandemic. Ecommerce is now the norm instead of the exception.
We likely won’t be returning to the normal we once knew—at least not for awhile. Major brands like Nestle and Procter & Gamble are adapting to these consumer changes as long term and perhaps even permanent. “Clearly this is not going to be a quick recovery,” said Nestle CEO Mark Schneider. “This is going to be a several quarter, if not several year kind of process, where it is safe to expect some changed category dynamics.” Nestle’s global e-commerce sales rose 30 percent in the first quarter of 2020, per CNN. A consumer goods stalwart, Procter & Gamble’s online sales went up 35 percent.
All this online shopping starts, for the most part, with online searches. While a Facebook ad agency and PPC services have their place in complementing a search strategy, it’s important to recognize that as of last year, 53 percent of all internet traffic originated with organic search. If you want to reach people in their homes, your SEO strategy should be adapting quickly.
“If you have a back catalogue of content that’s SEO optimized, that’s a healthy start and it can still give you years of mileage,” says Ilan Nass, founder and CEO of digital marketing agency Taktical. “But forward thinking companies are staying light on their feet as times are changing quickly.” Here’s what you should be doing now.
Let Your Customer’s Voice Be Heard
Voice search is still rising. And optimizing for voice benefits customers using text searches as well. “More and more we’re seeing Google develop towards natural language comprehension, which means less of a reliance on keywords,” says Nass, “and more emphasis on answering questions people are likely to have, the way people are likely to ask them.”
In other words, people aren’t going to Google and typing in “hamburgers,” “Black owned,” and “Denver” anymore. They’re typing or saying “what’s a Black owned burger joint in Denver?” Your SEO strategy should reflect this shift in the user-Google relationship.
It’s a Good Time to Be Questioning
To cater to organic questions like these, Google is doing all they can to answer questions themselves. Google doesn’t need click throughs to your website. They’re trying to keep users on the SERP. And they’re doing this by pulling information from the most qualified pages, and answering search queries in answer boxes (like the featured snippet).
Try to land these feature snippets and answer boxes by positioning yourself as the authority in your niche. The smaller the niche, the easier this will be. This simply means you must use your content to answer questions, questions, and more questions. Write blog posts answering questions, with bullet points answering questions, and add short, unbranded video clips answering questions. Brainstorm every question you can imagine a customer asking. Write an FAQ page that’s both thorough and concise.
Explore Multiple Partnerships
With major companies like Nestle and Procter & Gamble restrategizing for the new BOPIS ecomm norm, competition is about to get serious. In digital space, you don’t have a storefront or a big marquee, so it’s easier for smaller brands to lose visibility. But hey, the more partners you have, the more stable your presence. So it’s time to open the relationship. Partnering strategically with other brands opens avenues of visibility and makes sure you don’t get lost in the mix.
“Find ways to structure creative partnerships with companies who can cross pollinate your marketing efforts,” says Nass. Look past direct competitors and instead try to find what he calls the “peanut butter to your jelly,” a brand that’s complimentary, offering something different to the same pool of customers. If your name is popping up on other brands’ websites and promotional material, you’re increasing your share of digital space and ensuring you won’t get shouldered out by the big dogs.
The norms have changed. Where the chips will fall is still uncertain, but brands must do everything in their power to stay agile and afloat. A strong, diversified digital presence in partnership with complimentary brands, combined with question-answering content in a variety of media, all tailored for voice search, will give you a good foundation no matter how the sands are shifting. And maybe we’ll get through this dumpster fire with a stronger voice, stronger partnerships, and a few questions answered.