How These Uncertain Times Can Help You Adapt Your SEO to the Future

We’re living through times that have not only upended our personal lives but also our business lives. Over the course of a couple of short months, we have seen a totally new search reality emerge because, after all, we’ve been stuck at home and have required life to come to our doorstep. Now that we are tentatively re-opening segments of the country, will this be a temporary blip in the way we search for things or will things re-settle into the way things were?


Which Way Will Things Go?


Obviously, we simply don’t know right now. On the one hand, we’re talking about jump-starting a gasping economy and sending people back to work. On the other hand, we’re hearing experts talking about a second wave and resurgence of the virus when our guard is down. But right now is an important case-study in the way searches are fueling our new reality and also what they mean to the new technology.


How is that? First, let’s look at the knowns right now, as few as they are.


  • Known: we have a virus out there that has brought us to our knees, locally, nationally and globally.
  • Known: this virus is defying what the experts have had previous experience with and known protocols for.
  • Known: people have shifted buying habits short-term from wants to needs.
  • Known: people are looking for a sense of community.
  • Known: people are looking for trustworthy sources of information in a sea of hype and contradictory information.


Every company with a digital presence right now should be considering how to work within the current framework while keeping an eye toward the potential as yet unknown future. Whether your business has anything at all to do with the coronavirus or not, it can have everything to do with a sense of community, trust and rebuilding. And your SEO strategies can begin to appreciate how searches are evolving and how technology is meeting that need.


A Human Response


So how can you do this while still having no idea what the future will hold? It’s a balance that you should be navigating regardless of whether we live with this virus for another few weeks or another few months. It may seem as we are dealing with a short-term virus-related response but on further examination, it has everything to do with how you stay relevant in a digital marketing age that is continually mimicking real human response.


How to Appeal to Those Human Needs Right Now


Real-life human response wants that sense of community. Right now, have a statement on your site setting out your current COVID-19 business updates. Update your Google My Business Page. What are you doing differently? How is your business navigating this time? How are you working to keep your employees and customers safe? What will your business look like once this is all over? Can your customers still get your product or service and how do they do that? The bottom line: how can you be trusted when everything seems so untrustworthy right now?


Evolving Times


We are moving through a time that is constantly fluid. What emerging information can you use to create content and impart a sense of calm in the storm? How does your business or product fit into this bigger picture? Having this kind of content right now can mean the difference between searchers coming to you or to a competitor.


Can You Modify Some Keywords?


Consider the most important keywords you use. Now consider that many people are looking for those very things but in their current real-life context. Can you explore content that integrates your most important keywords with modifiers that are relevant right now?


  • Near me
  • Open now
  • At home
  • Indoor
  • Unemployment
  • Delivered
  • Quarantine
  • DIY
  • Homeschooling


Support your community and consider promoting other local businesses in cooperation. Many consumers on social media are promoting small business in their area with #supportsmallbusiness offerings. Be part of this important movement.


How Can You Help the Essential Workforce?


Many people simply can’t shelter in place and are required to work as part of the essential workforce. How can you help these people? Can you offer rebates, bonus products or giveaways? Can you offer essential worker discounts? People remember a brand that has helped them in meaningful ways or offered empathy and compassion when times are hard.


The Human Element of New Technology


People aren’t algorithms. And that is just part of the future that we are looking at with Google’s BERT update and its focus on language and context. Particularly when searching on a mobile device, real people ask real questions, not just search for keywords.


This is a good time to research meaningful questions that will provide long-tail keywords for your future. Defining these questions and your long-tail keywords requires that you take a good hard look at your company, your services or products and your website. And that is something that every company with a digital presence should do periodically. What better time than now when we have some extra time on our hands?


Your digital presence and SEO is dynamic and you may have had little time to give it some good consideration in all the busyness of a bustling economy. But we have a lull right now. Don’t waste this time. At SSA, we are here to help with proven techniques and ideas that can take a precarious time and poise you and your business for future growth.

Is Consumer Confidence Getting Reignited?

You may have seen it. People are beginning to return to the streets. Maybe it’s just spring. But maybe it’s something deeper and more hopeful.


With the recent economic turmoil, there’s been a lot to be worried about lately. But as we see some indicators that lockdowns are easing and stimulus money is being disbursed, we can take this time to look forward with some optimism.


Confidence Declined in March


It doesn’t take an economist to realize that consumer confidence showed a nosedive in the past couple of months. According to the Consumer Confidence Survey® that’s published every month detailing attitudes and buying intentions, confidence sharply declined in March after an increase in February and the Expectations Index (consumers’ outlook for the short-term for income, business and labor market conditions) declined as well. Needless to say, things looked pretty dark.


Are Things Looking Up?


But now, things look like they may be taking a turn. According to the HPS-Civic Science Economic Sentiment Index which tracks consumer sentiment and their willingness to make purchases, several indicators started to make an about-face.


The ESI, as it’s called, is a real-time index that measures economic expectations going forward as well as current sentiment. This indicator shows a more updated accounting than other measurements. Confidence is a funny thing and can be psychologically motivated. Is it wishful thinking for “normalcy” to return? Is it the inoculation of government money into the system? Whatever the cause, sentiment can be powerful.


Consumption Psychology at Play


We know this because consumption is often psychologically driven. And consumer spending currently drives approximately 70 percent of our GDP. In fact, after the first wave of stimulus checks were received, there was an increase in online spending with Shopify showing what they called “Black Friday level traffic”.


But even while consumer sentiment was crashing, online spending was up. According to a survey conducted by Engine, figures published from March 20 to March 22 indicate that 42 percent of people surveyed had increased their online spending. Much of that was because it was one of the only ways people could get the goods they needed during quarantining. But it didn’t show any reluctance in spending the money to get those goods.


Will This Turn Into Outright Optimism?


Will this continue after this first wave of stimulus cash is gone? It’s difficult to say. But we now see movement across the United States toward tiered lifting of quarantines and business lockdowns. Behind that movement may be an exponential pent-up desire for everything from haircuts to gym memberships. After being curtailed from moving about freely for several weeks, we’re seeing an increase in people who have lost patience with waiting things out and are ready to get their lives back to normal.


So What Happened With Marketing During this Time?


Not all of us were reorganizing our closets during COV-19. In fact, a recent blog post on Singular cited 250 CMOs’ take on marketing during our current pandemic. Every one of them said that this was not the time to stop marketing but, instead, readjust their strategies particularly when it came to digital commerce. With more people confined at home, the way they marketed and the messages they sent had to be reconsidered for the time and circumstances.


What Can We Look Forward To?


What does this mean for our customers and clients? It may mean that once this is all behind us, people will be downright exuberant about getting back to normal. We hope that small businesses and retailers have been able to ride this out successfully. For those who have taken this downtime to double down on their SEO, it could have an exponential impact on business. Here at SSA, we look forward to seeing that happen and offer our help to get you back on track if your SEO has taken a back seat.

How to Continue Working With Your SEO Clients During a Pandemic

Today we are facing lockdowns at the least, closures of whole businesses and massive unemployment at its worst. The reports today were over 16 million unemployed in the United States alone. In the middle of an economic boom that was one of the greatest in history, all it took was one little microscopic virus. If that doesn’t make you appreciate our fragility, not much will.


We are all in a vulnerable position. You are. We are. Your clients are. What can we do during this time to feel like we have some control over this destiny of ours when it seems very little is within that control?


Financially Vulnerable Times


Many of our peers are facing financially unprecedented times. You, yourself, may be one of them. But we need to persist because we know that, as they say, this, too, shall pass. What will your business look like at the end of the tunnel? This is something we can focus on to minimize the damage of the moment and give us a goal.


Reaching Out


A good client is a partner in your success and theirs. The pain is mutual during times like this. When you offer to suffer right along with them, they appreciate it and will remember it when times get good again.


If you haven’t yet, you want to reach out to your clients. If you can, offer options for them and strategies they can use to scale back and yet remain viable. Do your homework and offer real solutions that everyone can live with.


The bottom line is a break in their SEO momentum will cost them in terms of rankings long-term. Offering assistance to your clients that keeps them on track will help keep them afloat SEO-wise. Your good clients will be grateful.


Getting Rid of Waste or Ineffective Marketing Short-Term


Do an audit of their marketing efforts and help them scale back where it won’t benefit them short-term and will save them money right now. Getting rid of waste that doesn’t affect their long-term SEO strategies will be important at a time when every dollar counts.


You may be quarantined right now which affords you some time. Helping your clients find what they can cut and helping them get it done is a good way for you to stay busy, stay connected and maintain open communication with them. Trust us. They will remember this assistance.


We know that some businesses will not survive this time and there are not many SEO strategies that can help them. For those who can’t survive the short-term, their long-term SEO is simply not one they can concentrate on right now. But the ones that will be there when this thing is over will be glad for your help.


SEO Strategies to Focus On For Now


We know that SEO is all about the future. And that allows us to be optimistic at a time when optimism is at an all-time low. But what can you do about mitigating the bleeding right now?


  • Monitor trends in keywords to use for upcoming content and blog post ideas for your clients.
  • Take time to do your research. Case in point is how people will be looking for information in the future and how Google is adjusting algorithms. Consider how strategies can be implemented to address them, i.e. long-tail keyword approaches and question and answer sections.
  • Advise your clients on how they can be good community stewards if they are still open. People have time on their hands right now. Social media can help offer a sense of community when people need it most. Help your clients get the most out of their social media but scale back on the paid advertising that will make little sense right now.


An economic downturn will weed out competition. Your clients can use this time to plan for the future and how they can set themselves apart when things get back to normal. As they see their competitors falling by the side of the road or shutting down their marketing, fear may be setting in. Conversely, their goal should be to double down for the future.


This, Too, Shall Pass


And when it does, people will be ready to get out and get life back to normal. People will be ready to go out to eat, get a haircut, go to work out again. In other words, your clients can take this time to be prepared for when that time comes.


Right now, organic traffic has dropped substantially for most industries unless they are essential or COVID-19 related. But this lull, if used properly, can position your clients for good organic rankings for that inevitable future when business gets back online. This is particularly important for those that will need to make up for losses.


The Bottom Line

The other side of this is what we need to focus on. You and your clients can take the next few months to strategize over the best way their marketing dollars can pay off and maintain momentum for when life goes back to normal.


In these unprecedented times, we are all partners in getting things going again. Serving those partnerships, serving the community, is how we get through this stronger and more resilient than ever. Stay safe!

Why SEO is Still Crucial in the Age of COVID-19

COVID-19 has served up a huge dish of stress. For businesses today, the short-term is to keep the wolves from the door. But those businesses that can’t focus beyond that will suffer when all the scare dies down. Right now, as difficult as it may seem, it’s important to keep diligent about SEO during this time of crisis.


Be Careful How You Trim the Budget


With any sudden drop in revenue, businesses will look at ways to trim the budget. For any company that is not considered “essential”, performance is way down. This is common sense. But this is COVID-19 driven and not SEO driven. Period. It’s important to keep this in mind right now.


Business owners need to remember that short-term cutbacks on SEO disrupt the momentum of their rankings. Google trudges on. The last thing a business wants to do is put SEO initiatives on ice at this time.


Continuing Organic Strategies are Critical Right Now


It’s common sense that, for many businesses right now, search demand is down. But SEO and content marketing have always been sighted on the long-term. Because we understand that COVID-19 is a short-term issue, continuing content and organic strategies are crucial.


Google Search Console is showing that despite a large drop in search impressions, rankings are remaining consistent for now. This means that this is not a ranking issue but a drop in search demand. Businesses that continue to ride this wave without panicking will find themselves in good territory once we get beyond this.


Reducing expenditure on SEO and content marketing risks a drop in organic rankings. This may not be an issue right now but once search demand returns — and it will —  organic traffic may be reduced significantly from pre-COVID-19 traffic without maintaining some diligence.


Faster Recovery After COVID-19


Nick Eubanks, CEO of I’m From the Future says that investments that create the most ROI like SEO should not be halted. He puts it this way in a recent post:


“I personally believe that companies that continue to execute on their planned digital marketing campaigns, and more specifically, on their planned content and conversion strategies around SEO as an acquisition channel, will be poised for faster (and more effective) recovery when we come out the other side.”


Instead, he suggested that what businesses should be doing during these unprecedented times is:


  • Continue to keep customers updated about any changes they may be making to your business strategies during this time.
  • Make sure to prioritize employees and be as flexible as possible. Send out messages that they are all in this together. As much as possible, invest in those employees who want to take this time for their own professional development that can be used for mutual benefit when life goes back to normal.
  • Take this time to fine-tune SEO strategies, add and update content and reassess keywords.


This is NOT the time to do COVID-19 promotions.


Marketing will certainly struggle in the thick of the current economic shutdown but it’s important to note that this is a temporary setback. For those who value their rankings, looking forward and doing everything possible to keep momentum is one of the most important things they can do right now in anticipation of us returning to normal.

Photo Credit: Search Engine Journal

How Will the BERT Update Affect Your SEO Strategies?

Implemented at the end of 2019, the BERT algorithm update is one of the most important yet. When it comes to SEO, it’s important to understand it and how it will affect results.


What is BERT?


BERT, or Bidirectional Encode Representations from Transformers, is Google’s NLP algorithm. It works by encoding sentences in a different way to understand the meaning of words in context, thereby making it more human in its capabilities and understanding. Instead of focusing only on keywords, it will be able to detect the searcher’s intention.


Analyzing Queries To Fine-Tune To Intention


Right now, BERT primarily analyzes queries, not websites generally. But it’s presumed that this will make a future impact on ranks for keywords and phrases, making the results more specific and fine-tuned for relevancy. This enables the searcher to get results that are more closely related to the intention behind the search and make for a better user experience.


Low Quality Content Will Suffer


This means a website with lower quality content will become eliminated. Websites that are optimized only for keywords without content focus will suffer. The more vague and unfocused the website information is, the less likely it will appear on the first page of Google results.


According to Google’s team, there is no way to manipulate for BERT. The best way to optimize is by improving the quality of the website as a whole. There are three ways you can do this.


Don’t Try to Trick iIt


What has been used in the past to manipulate algorithms has typically done more harm than good. If you look back at old ways that SEO tried to manipulate rankings with link buying, keyword stuffing, invisible text and other tactics, we know that Google just recognized them and then updated around them while also penalizing the website. These practices just became recognized as unethical and the website owner usually paid for it.


Provide Relevant and Unique Content


Relevant and informative content has always been a hallmark of Google’s desire for the best possible user experience. It will be even more so with the BERT update.


Web pages should now be specific, answering questions and providing topic explanations for users. With BERT, Google will place more value on a website that gives the user good relevant information. Vague or unfocused content will find itself no longer ranking well, despite the use of plenty of keywords.


Provide Richer Context


Optimizing for long-tail keywords is a given. But context will be more important than ever to get the right users to a website. As searches become more accurate by understanding the intention of the user, using focused keyword phrases means the right audience gets to a website that has taken the time to understand their users and their needs.


Every Search Is An Opportunity


Every search is another opportunity for a sale or lead. That is why marketers need to make the BERT update an important consideration in their SEO strategy in today’s landscape. Watch this site for the latest in SEO information.

6 Important SEO Strategies You Need to Know For 2020

Your client’s SERP rankings are their lifeblood. Keeping their site in front of their customers is more important than ever as we see a further shift away from traditional advertising. And yet, if they haven’t been focused on consistent SEO, they’re basically just crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.


As you know, making sure that your client’s website is continually optimized is not just a set-it-and-forget-it proposition. With Google changing algorithms multiple times a year, the last thing your client should rely on are old SEO strategies for a new set of updates, yet that’s exactly what many business owners do unwittingly.


Get the Content Right


It’s not always possible to keep up with algorithms. Fortunately, there are important things to optimize for that are tried and true Google. Driving rankings in organic searches is still very much about keywords, links and content.


As always, keywords and links have been important and continue to be. But in the last few years, content has become far more important than some of the best-researched keyword and link building approaches.


The ultimate goal for your client is to understand exactly what their customer wants and then provide the best content possible for that subject or product. That includes authoritative website content as well as fresh, consistent and unique blog content. New, well-researched and expertly-written content drives Google more than anything else right now.


What’s E-A-T?


E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Your client’s keywords and links are important, but what drives their PQ rating is their E-A-T. Google wants real experts who provide the best user experience to get the most exposure. So how do you boost this for your client?


One way is to make sure that all content is unique and authoritative with references and external links to sources. This kind of expert content will then become important for others to link back to. The more in-depth and authoritative the content, the more trustworthy the site.


They Will NEED Video Exposure


Not sure about this? Right now, 55% of all Google searches contain at least one video. Consider that according to Cisco, 82 percent of IP traffic will be video driven by 2021. If video is not a part of your client’s SEO strategies, you are missing the mark for them. In order to use video successfully, there are some important considerations:


  • It should be organized into sections by content
  • The title, description and tags are optimized
  • A transcript should be provided. Even though YouTube offers one automatically, it’s not foolproof. One should be uploaded independently. And then parts of that transcript should be used in other areas of the content, such as blog posts.


And while we’re talking about video, you’ll want to grow your client’s YouTube channel. With YouTube being the second largest search engine today, an optimized YouTube channel will enable your client to own more valuable web real estate without much more work.


Optimize For Mobile Devices


Although mobile searches have been around for awhile, optimizing for it is still taking a backseat. But mobile searches now dominate traffic with 63% of US organic search traffic done on a mobile device. Why, then, should desktop optimization be done at the exclusion of mobile? If anything, mobile optimization should be a huge priority.


Optimize For Voice Search


Voice search relies on NLP (Natural Language Processing). This ever-evolving intelligence powers voice search engines by recognizing a user’s voice texture, interests and behavior and becomes more adept with each query. How do most people do a voice search?  Most often, it’s in the form of a question. And Google’s voice algorithm will pick up the site with both the question and the answer.


Human Intent


With the BERT algorithm, Google is trying to further their understanding of user intent when it comes to content and topics.


As Google continues to get “smarter”, your client’s SEO needs to become more focused on human intent and user experience. This involves adding modifiers to core keywords to clarify the intention of the user. These can be purely informational but are most often transactional and concern things like the price, brand and location of specific products or services. These kind of queries are most likely to convert so it’s important to optimize for user intent in a strong SEO campaign.


A Fluid Process


Today’s SEO is never static. It’s a fluid endeavor consisting of many important parts working in harmony.


  • Website optimization
  • Content creation
  • Blog content
  • Keyword research
  • Link building
  • Sitemap optimization
  • Web design
  • Social management
  • Reputation management
  • Forward-thinking strategies
  • Traffic monitoring
  • Rankings
  • Video creation


At SEO Service Agents, we make you look good. As one of the largest white label SEO providers in the world, we have the knowledge and expert implementation it takes to boost your client’s rankings and get them seen by their customers. With a finger on the pulse of constantly-changing SEO practices and a wide variety of services and packages, we make your job that much easier. With our team of experienced SEO experts, you get a partner in your success!

5 Important Ways to Make Your SEO Foundation Rock Solid


As an SEO marketer, you know there are hundreds of ways that you can spend your time trying to get higher rankings for your clients. That being said, getting the basics down first is a foundation you need to get right and then build on. From there, you can go on to more advanced strategies.


Make Your Keywords Count


Choosing the right keywords and phrases is one of the most integral steps in any successful SEO strategy. Old-school keyword utilization is not the same now that Google is looking at more human engagement and voice search optimization and NLP.


Choosing the right keywords starts with good solid research, understanding the customer, looking at the successful competition, and understanding the importance of long-tail key phrases. And because Google is now focusing more on user experience and intent, choosing the right modifiers for your keywords is just as important as the keywords themselves.


Don’t Stuff


Overusing your keywords is the kiss of death. Keyword stuffing means


  • Unnecessary and unnatural repetitions of words and phrases
  • Words that don’t fit their context
  • Words that are irrelevant to the topic of the page they’re inserted on


Too many keywords are bad for user experience and it’s bad for SEO. A clear message with a target keyword used in a natural way (with a 1 to 2 percent saturation) will send the right message without working counter to intention. Using secondary keywords, long-tail variations and answered questions makes current SEO keyword practices even more contextual and human-driven.


Never Use Duplicate Content


Research shows that up to 29 percent of the web is actually duplicate content.  But Google is clear about it’s avoidance of duplicate content and its reluctance to index multiple versions of the same content. Duplicate content will reduce organic traffic exponentially. Even if content is not word-for-word duplicate, if they are “appreciably similar”, it will be considered duplicate content.


Adding New and Relevant Content


Adding new and relevant content with a clear purpose is important, additionally linking to older pages internally to establish more authority. It’s important to externally link to support data from authoritative and trustworthy websites as well. Link building is one of the most important basics in SEO and will continue to be so.


Pay Attention to Page Speed


Page loading speed is one of the main factors that Google uses in ranking. As things continue to change in Google algorithms, particularly in mobile device searches and NLP, it’s more important than ever to consider page speed. Pages with longer load times have higher bounce rates and lower conversion.


Even though Google does multiple updates and algorithm changes every year, getting SEO tried and true basics right is foundational before attempting to optimize to algorithms. A good foundation is important to any SEO strategy today. Once the foundation is in place, you can then look to more advanced strategies. We can help with that. Let our team help get your SEO foundation solid.

Coronavirus and SEO

What Coronavirus Means to Your SEO Strategies


COVID-19 is causing us to reimagine the world around us and it seems like we’ve found ourselves in a strange dystopian universe. As businesses are grappling with whether they can afford to keep employees on as they watch their revenue potentially dwindle, it can be a time of intense anxiety and, in some cases, panic.

As a business owner, you are obviously considering the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. Whether your business is impacted by employee cuts, social distancing or simply by people having more important things on their minds, this can be a time when cutting costs may be the most pressing priority. It seems intuitive that now would be a perfect time to cut marketing costs.


Except when it isn’t.

We are all experiencing an immediate impact, whether we are offering a service or a product, whether we are e-commerce or brick and mortar based. But we also know that COVID-19 is temporary. How temporary is a mere guess. But watching news from around the world indicates that we are finding ways to get this under control and getting aid to those who need it right now.


How This Impacts Your SEO

Algorithms that propel your website know nothing about viruses. They plod along as if nothing has happened. We may be temporarily shut down but the internet landscape still remains the constantly fluid competitive space that it was yesterday or last month. Or last year.


A Long-Term Vision is Important

SEO is a long end game and, once shut down, can take a long time to recover momentum. In this economically anxious time, it can make sense to cut back on some advertising. But a drop in SEO momentum may well affect your long-term strategies past the moment when life goes back to normal.


Offering a Voice of Reason in a Time of Anxiety

This is a good time to remember that your SEO and marketing strategies are all about building connection and trust. How you deal with that during difficult times will cause your users to remember you for good or for bad. How can you be a local leader at times like this? Can you disseminate good factual information for your users? Let your employees and customers know what adaptations you’re making to keep them safe.


Don’t Underestimate the Detrimental Potential of Dropping Your SEO, Even Short-term

It’s important to understand that even during these uncertain times, dropping consistent SEO practices can leave you playing catch-up for months after things calm down. Panicking or underestimating how this can affect your business six to twelve months down the line can be to your financial detriment long-term. While the rest of the country is in shut-down mode, this may be the most beneficial time to be tackling SEO tasks that you have had little time for.


  • Compile videos — this downtime is a good time to strategize your website videos, targeting specific long-tail keywords and providing transcription for additional relevant content. Use these in blog posts and social media posts. In our current social distancing landscape, use video recording options to reach out and interview employees and customers for their personal insight about your products, services and culture.
  • Critically evaluate your content — Evaluating your content can take the time you haven’t had recently. This is a good time to critically look at your content for quality and relevance. Which content has gotten the most results and traffic? Make a point of updating and optimizing current content with new keywords, repurposing and rewriting old content, adding internal and external links.
  • Update Your Google My Business information for your local users — During this time, you may be operating on different hours or temporarily closed. Let your local users know by updating your hours, description and contact information.
  • Utilize webinars — this time is a great time to offer free webinars for services and products. Introducing products, employees, features or just conducting question and answer sessions are good ways to offer relevant and timely information to your users.


There are many ways you can continue to see your SEO strategies through to keep you ahead of the game when life gets back to normal. The silver lining is that this time may just give you breathing space to clean up your website and focus on your marketing.


Keeping Focused on Relationships

SEO is all about relationships. Even during this time of uncertainty, keep your lines of communication open. Offering reassurance and connection in a time when people are social distancing during this very real coronavirus scare is a way that can help overcome feelings of isolation and despair. Businesses will struggle for a while. But we are all in this together and we will endure together.


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