The coronavirus pandemic has obviously made search engine optimization and digital marketing a more central part of the business model for numerous retailers. Most of them adapted to the new circumstances on the assumption that everything would go back to normal eventually. But this may have been misguided. Some recent surveys suggest that over 70 percent of consumers plan to continue shopping online for the foreseeable future, after having started doing so specifically as a reaction to closures or perceived health risks.
The massive disruption in our normal lives may have put us on the path toward a new normal, and it may have tipped the scales further in favor of ecommerce over brick-and-mortar operations. Of course, plenty of brick-and-mortar stores adopted supplementary ecommerce strategies years ago. But to the extent that they continued relying on foot traffic and an established customer base, not all of them recognized much need to put energy into search engine optimization. They weren’t actually trying to compete with distant, online retailers, after all.
It’s not clear that this dismissiveness toward search engine optimization is sustainable anymore. For one thing, there’s no such thing as avoiding online competition at a time when everyone is primarily doing business online. However you used to compete with the shop around the corner, that strategy surely didn’t apply to a situation of lockdowns and social distancing. It’s not very likely to apply in the aftermath of that situation either, assuming people follow through with the plans to keep focusing their consumer spending on ecommerce.
For another thing, that shift in consumer behavior threatens to open people up to whole new worlds, which they may have been avoiding in order to maintain their loyalty to your brand. As online shopping becomes a more familiar part of their routine, many will grow more comfortable with looking beyond their usual outlets. Whereas certain items might once have been discovered by looking through windows in a local commercial district, now they might be discovered through a Google search instead. And if your search engine optimization isn’t up to snuff, your store might go from being a customer’s first stop to being completely off their map.
This isn’t to say that you need to invest so much in search engine optimization that you can compete with Amazon or Walmart. But you probably do need to get help from a local SEO company in order to develop an understanding of how your existing customers are approaching ecommerce these days. By tailoring your SEO strategy to them, you can minimize the adverse impacts of a shift away from your usual brick-and-mortar operations. And along the way, you just might gain some insight that also helps you to reach out to new customers over the long term, bringing more web traffic to your site, and ultimately more foot traffic to your store.