Over the last few weeks we have seen Covid-19 go from a minor concern to a major obstacle in our daily lives. During this same time DealerOn as a company has taken every precaution in order to keep our employees 100% healthy and our workflow 100% operational. This includes starting our work from home initiative last week and proactively stress-testing all of our systems.
The main questions we’ve received so far are 1) Will our organic traffic be impacted? and 2) Should I pause SEO in the short term since foot traffic to the stores is going to slow down? The short answers to these two questions are 1) Yes and No and 2) No! but let me elaborate….
How will our organic traffic be impacted by Covid-19?
Major events like these don’t come around often, but when they do our goal is to measure short term effects, changes to search behavior, and adapt to our findings. So far, it’s too early to tell how severe this virus will become. Our clients in the most affected regions are already feeling the lack of foot traffic and slowdown in sales. However, when it comes to organic traffic, the answer is a bit more nuanced.
Right now, in the regions most affected, most people are in panic mode. They are watching videos on the virus, reading news articles, on social media discussing the situation, etc. This is causing organic traffic (and traffic in general) to decrease in those areas.
This drop in traffic is likely to slow down as people become fatigued by the news cycle and constant updates. When this happens, they’ll turn to entertainment, online shopping, and online browsing in general. This is likely to cause an increase in organic traffic. If fact when looking at March data through the 17th we’ve seen dozens of cases in which organic traffic increases in less affected areas.
In addition, our data indicates that there will be some bigger swings in day-to-day and week-to-week traffic. The overall organic traffic for 2020 will end up increasing at about the same rate as 2019 (assuming things in the United States don’t escalate past current projections).
Should I pause SEO in the short term?
If you’ve read any of our blogs or watched any of our Wednesday Workshop videos you understand that SEO is a long-term strategy and long-term strategies aren’t influenced by short-term variations. Unless you’re expecting to sell fewer cars in 6 months, 1 year, 5+ years, your best move is to take this time to work on a game plan for Q3 sales. Continue working on your website, continue working on your SEO, and continue working with your SEO consultants and CSMs to look for traffic opportunities.
Typically, every one of your competitors is doing some sort of SEO. This means that if you’re also doing SEO you’re both growing. Hopefully you have a better strategy, more content, better link building, etc. to “catch up” to competitors who have been doing SEO for longer. In the next few weeks, chances are some dealerships will panic; they will pause SEO and marketing efforts. For those competing with these dealers you’re presented with a unique chance to either “catch up” or surpass them all together.
Dealerships who pause SEO now will likely be the same ones asking why their competitors are outranking them in November & December. By the time they notice, it’ll be too late to improve organic rankings in 2020 and they’ll have to rely on Paid Search and other sources to keep the leads flowing.
Tips for March, April and Beyond
The organic traffic you’re seeing now is a result of SEO work that was done towards the end last year. Understanding this, your SEO efforts over the next few months are to grow your 2020 MRP traffic, to grow your backlink profile slowly and steadily, and to interact with your Social Media accounts and Local Listings more than ever!
How you engage with your Social Media and Rep traffic now will dictate who your future customers will be once this virus passes. If you’re a current client, pay attention to the Social Posts and Review emails your SEO team sends you weekly. If you’re not a current client, make sure you’re at the very least maintaining the status quo when it comes to your SEO, Social and Reputation management during these next few months (you’ll be happy you did).
How is your dealership’s organic traffic fairing at the moment? Please share any insights or questions in the comments below, as we will do our best to address your questions and concerns!
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Thank you for this! with our clients scrambling to figure out what to do right now it’s nice to reiterate how “long term” SEO strategies really are.