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In our previous post, we talked about how digital marketing may or may not being return to normal, now that the end of the pandemic seems to be within view. This time, we’d like to unpack that topic a little bit, with specific reference to how businesses and their marketing contractors choose SEO terms to feature in that marketing.

On the larger topic, our key point was that if you changed your business operations or marketing strategy to accommodate the pandemic, there’s a chance that those changes will continue to influence how you do business over the long term. More to the point, that may be the case even if the specific changes you made last year turned out to be temporary. The lessons behind those changes are potentially valuable in and of themselves, and you should consider using them to prepare yourself for other necessary changes in the future.

This advice could certainly apply when you choose SEO terms in order to reorient the focus of your digital marketing strategy. There are various reasons why you will have to make that kind of an adjustment, and in fact if the pandemic shook you out of a period of stagnation in your optimization strategy, then you should see that as a silver lining to the whole ordeal.

Variety is the Spice                                             

Whenever you choose SEO terms, you should be aware of the fact that each of them are meant to be used sparingly while you cycle through a series of focus topics. Becoming too focused on any one set of terms could be detrimental to your overall strategy, both because it means you’re neglecting other terms that might be equally important and because it puts you at risk of having your own pages competing against each other for raking on the same individual SEO key phrase.

Furthermore, the process by which you choose SEO terms needs to involve recurring analysis, which could reveal the necessity of a change at any time. Even if your selection was impeccable in the first place, there are any number of things that could happen to your industry, your local community, the consumer market, or the world at large to alter what people are searching for, and how. The pandemic was a particularly extreme example, but it should have opened up a lot of site owners’ eyes to the volatility of influences on how you choose SEO terms.

Some Changes are Obvious

Where the pandemic is concerned, there are plenty of blindingly obvious examples of search terms that would have lost their appeal. We talked about this in posts at the height of the crisis, when we were trying to help clients to adjust to new consumer habits, social expectations, and government regulations.

Restaurants that had always focused on promoting their indoor dining environment suddenly had to choose SEO terms that would effectively promote take-out or socially-distanced outdoor dining as alternatives. At the same time, some of those establishments might have also chosen to continue promoting their upscale reputations, but in new and creative ways that encouraged people to remember the brand as something they’d want to engage with once life started getting back to normal.

In the category of “obvious but not quite as obvious” there were also instances of SEO keywords that didn’t specifically promoted unsafe behaviors or inactive industries, but just didn’t retain the same positive associations during a public health crisis. Anything that implied closeness among strangers might have also implied disregard for the surrounding circumstances and thus should have been avoided unless the business was specifically looking to attract people who were trying to deny or downplay the pandemic themselves.

Conversely, to appeal to consumers who were specifically trying to engage with the reality of the situation, it might have been advisable to choose SEO terms that conveyed a certain level of awareness and sensitivity. You could have analyzed changes in actual search terms to find examples, but you could have also just turned on any television channel and seen the sheer number of commercials using phrases like “challenging times” and “in it together.”

Some are Unexpected

It should go without saying that a truly effective search engine optimization strategy looks well beyond the most obvious keywords, as well as the most obvious influences on those keywords. For that reason, the most successful SEO campaigns in the middle of the pandemic were probably the ones that recognized some of the subtle ways people were developing new interests and sensibilities while stuck at home or generally worrying about the virus.

As people’s lives changed after lockdown, some of them tried to find new ways of keeping up with old interests, as with at-home fitness routines instead of visits to the gym. Others took up altogether new interests in place of those that had become more difficult to practice. You may remember the sourdough fad as one example that seemed especially widespread. Those are the sorts of trends that you should monitor before you choose SEO terms, especially if they seem like they’re going to be sufficiently long lasting that you’d want to capture some of the associated traffic over the long term.

That speaks to the lesson you should probably have learned from the pandemic about the broader phenomenon of changes in online behavior. When there’s a major event that affects everybody – or everybody within a certain market or demographic – it’s extremely rare of the effects of that event to have one straightforward effect and then go away.

It’s more likely that they’ll have knock-on effects in other areas, and that certainly newly-adopted search terms will be part of the consumer’s repertoire for a long time to come. When you choose SEO terms, you should usually aspire to create evergreen content that will keep people coming back to your site for the foreseeable future. But with the internet changing as frequently as the world around it, even your understanding of “evergreen” may have to change with the times, or roll with the punches.  

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