Second Wave and Local SEO: Coronavirus Impact on Local Businesses

25 / May / 2021 by Ankita Awasthi 0 comments

There is considerable anxiety and fear among individuals as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the country. The number of COVID cases is accelerating with every passing day, and it’s worsening the fear among individuals.

Many people have even stopped coming out of the house, and that is a good thing that they are adhering to social distancing guidelines laid down by the GoI, however, they are pouring more and more online searches for their daily essentials and other needs.

At this most exceedingly terrible time, local businesses are witnessing a great boom as there has been an increment in search trends for some local keywords on Google SERPs, thereby indicating the evolution of local businesses. These terms are like “grocery store near me”, “medical shop”, “pet care store” and other useful products and services.

Below is the trend of “Grocery store” search in the past 30 days:

The economy of the country is still struggling to be stable, and local businesses have been challenged financially. They are forcedly needed to adapt to new forms of selling.

Breaking Old Grounds

Many SMEs used traditional marketing strategies to promote their businesses including Business cards, Flyers and brochures, Billboards and signage, and more. However, this conventional marketing style is showing no signs to work effectively during this pandemic because everybody is locked in their homes and your fancy flyers and shiny billboards will not reach their bedrooms to show the relevant ads.

Many local businesses have their online profiles, but they never kept active. This pandemic has been an eye-opener for all those local businesses and has taught them the importance of building the digital presence of their businesses.

At this point, the only way to get excellent customers from the web these days, and keep offering the services to them is Local SEO. We are keeping track of how most SMEs still underestimate the fact that the number of potential customers they could get through their local searches.

The time is now focusing on Local SEO during the Covid-19 that is right around the corner.
As per Google search trends, because of lockdown around the world, we are recording massive growth in “near me” searches. Local SEO Optimization has the superpowers to help business owners to drive and attracts customers they are looking for.

In this in-depth post, we are going to share about Local SEO, and tips that will help you grow your local business when people in India are confronting the lockdown after the second hit of COVID-19.

What is Local Search Engine Optimization?

It is the marketing process of optimizing your business’s presence in your area so you show up in search results when nearby customers look for the things related to your business, products, or services.

“Local business sirf 3 cheezon ki wajah se chalta hai”… Relevance, Prominence, Proximity

  • Relevance
    Does your local store have the things/services that the customer is looking for? Simply, search engines display all the business listings that could be relevant to the search term.
  • Prominence
    Is your local store trustworthy? Prominence is measured by rating and reviews, credentials, user engagement, social media following, inbound links, domain authority, and more.
  • Proximity
    Is your store located nearby the searcher? Proximity is mainly focused on the distance between the searcher and the business’s brick-and-mortar location.

Local SEO Tricks to Retain Customers during COVID-19

Here, we have constructed a full-fledged plan for how a local business can serve their customers during the second wave of COVID:

1. Optimize Google My Business
Google My Business is the first thing when you look for the nearby businesses in the search results. According to Google,
“Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their  online presence across Google, including Search and Maps”

  • To optimize your Business Profile on Google, outline the few points that you need to take care of:
  • Create your business profile on Google My Business account and verify ownership
  • Choose accurate categories for the business
  • Add the complete business name, physical address with your actual location, and phone number
  • Include a brief about business
  • Mention up-to-date information about the business such as opening hours, acceptable payment methods,
  • Add the product or service you sell
  • Upload plenty of images including interior photos, exterior photos, and product photos
  • Encourage your customers to review your business
  • Respond customer reviews
  • Announce events, and special offers

What’s New?

    • Add Health & Safety Attributes in GMB after the Coronavirus hit. This include:
      • Masks required for customers or staff
      • Temperature checks required for staff
      • Appointments required
    • Mention “Years in business” to inform the customers when you started
    • Set “More hours” that describe special business services such as delivery, take away, and drive-through.
    • Select an attribute to show you offer online services such as classes, appointments, or estimates.
    • Mention if you are offering any extra services for the community
    • Create COVID-19 specific posts that includes:
      • Hours of operation
      • Temporary closures
      • Delays on specific business services

2. Use “near me” and “Local Keywords” in Meta Tags

    • As “near me” searches are increasing drastically, add ‘near me’ into your meta tags
    • Include “top keywords with location”, and try to make catchy title and meta description tags that can get good clicks

3. More on Local Citations

Don’t forget to include your location in the content. Local Citations plays a creme de la creme on your local search engine rankings. A citation is simply the mention of your business’s name, address, and phone number anywhere on the web such as local directories, social platforms, or websites. Start submitting your business on top local directories like Yelp, Foursquare, and more. Just not to focus on the numbers only, the quality of the listings should be high at the same time, as it directly impacts the local search ranking. Keep NAP (Name, Address, and Phone number) same on all the listings across the internet, this will help to define the legitimacy and reliability of the business. Discrepancies like wrong operational timings, incorrect phone numbers, or misspellings can create difficulties for the business to rank on search engines.

It is good to optimize web page content with your location-based keywords for both local searches and customers. For example, if you offer AC repairing services and you’re based in New Delhi, you must include “AC repairing services in New Delhi” in your content. This way, you can inform both customers and search engines about your servicing area. This helps you to rank easily on local search engines!

4. Manage reviews & Q/A

Everyone wants concrete proof when choosing any service, product, or place! Online reviews help customers to make their decisions whether to choose your business or not.
  • Actively monitoring, generating, and leveraging online customer reviews and feedback will help you gain the trust of future customers that your brand utilizes feedback to engage with past customers and improve the overall experience.
  • Respond to all the complaints and queries in real-time, this way you can create a bond with your customers.
  • Connecting with dissatisfied customers quickly results in customers buying again if they feel the complaint was resolved in time.

Follow all the safety protocols such as mask, temperature, and sanitization, if Google receives any complaint against your business regarding safety protocols, you will be penalized for sure.

Final Thoughts

We all are struggling to climb the SERPs for our local businesses, especially during this pandemic, when we have finite resources. Nonetheless, optimum utilization of local SEO can navigate your business through these choppy waters.

As many people rely more on online searches to find what their needs are, you have to boost your business to get in front of your online visitors. So just fasten your seatbelt, and climb high on the local SERPs by optimizing your GMB, updating meta tags and local content, creating local listing profiles on business directories, and responding to reviews to improve customer satisfaction and sales.

We hope you feel better and can set your business again in local areas!


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