Adjusting SEO and ORM Campaigns in the Midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an extremely volatile field as is, with Google rolling out several updates to its algorithm over the course of any given year. Throw the current COVID-19 global pandemic into the mix and the number of considerations for digital marketers to keep in mind becomes dizzying.

We offer some best practices and developments in the practice to ensure that your SEO and online reputation management efforts remain strong during these trying and uncertain times.

Provide Transparent and Timely Updates on Changes to Business Operations

One of the most important steps you can take right now is to update your clients and prospective clients by placing prominently placed messages on your website, social media channels, and within meta tags.

For example, the Empire State Building provides closure updates and cites recommendations offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York City Department of Health:

Empire State Building Coronavirus Update

On their Facebook page, Empire State Building has created a post that conveys this message to followers as well:

Empire State Building Facebook Coronavirus Update

Even within their homepage’s meta description, Empire State Building has included helpful information pertaining to COVID-19:

Empire State Building Meta Description Coronavirus Update

The meta description appears in search results under the website’s URL, so that searchers can quickly glean information regarding the contents of the associated webpage.

Brands are also providing updates to email subscribers regarding store closures, as you can see in the update Macy’s recently started sending:

Macy’s COVID-19 Email Update

Macy’s conveys the current timeline of store closures and highlights that customers can continue to shop online 24/7 on More importantly, this email showcases Macy’s commitment to providing benefits and compensation to employees impacted by these store closures. This is vitally important to Macy’s digital and real-world reputation.

Update Your Google My Business Page

Google has provided users with a Google My Business profile a dedicated COVID-19 support page that offers important tips and updates that should be made. If your business hours have changed, it’s important to make these updates to your GMB page. You can use this portal to convey any additional changes to your business operations. Google recommends creating timely posts explaining whether or not specific products and/or services your business provides have changed. Additionally, as many businesses have now gone remote, business owners can update the phone numbers listed on their GMB profiles.

Understand Where Search Demand Is and Create Targeted Content

With our leading suite of SEO tools, we have some initial data points on what users are searching for as it pertains to different industries. For example, we have a glimpse of what users are searching for regarding Coronavirus and travel:

Coronavirus Travel Keyword Research

If your business is within the travel industry, it’s imperative that your website features some content targeted around these search queries in order to satisfy the informational needs of your target customers.

Discuss Relevant Donations and Contributions

There are a number of highly reputable non-profits that individuals can contribute to that aid those in need and combat COVID-19.  If you have contributed or volunteered, it would be a great idea to feature a blog post on your own website or message on your social profiles.  Consider including tips on how your readers can get involved as well. This is an excellent way to showcase your involvement, bring others onboard, and bolster your online reputation.

One example of a noble act in the sports world was made by New Orleans Pelicans NBA basketball player Zion Williamson. As the NBA has cancelled games until further notice, arena operations have shut down across the league. Williamson pledged to cover the salaries of arena workers at the New Orleans Pelicans’s Smoothie King Arena. He made the announcement on his Instagram account:

Zion Williamson Coronavirus Contribution

While such posts should not be boastful or exploitative, they should convey the contribution and the meaning behind it. Such posts can go a long way in strengthening your digital reputation.

Prada recently donated six intensive care and resuscitation units to hospitals in Milan and published a simple, yet impactful, press release:

Prada Intensive Care Unit Donation Italy

What it Means for You

Make no mistake about it – the COVID-19 outbreak will pass and so will social distancing. The American economy is resilient and will recover. A setback is a setup for a comeback. However, the individuals, companies, and organizations that act with the utmost transparency and compassion now while we are in the midst of this challenging phase will be ones that’ll be best positioned to thrive in the aftermath.

As we continue this period of social distancing, more people will be online searching for and consuming information. Now is a critical time to ensure that your digital marketing efforts are up to this unique challenge.


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