Keeping your SEO and PPC up to date

As we progress through the Scottish Government’s lockdown phases, your business operations and service levels will probably continue to change, so it’s important to update your SEO and PPC activities.

Article

6 min read

We asked Sarah Johnson from data-driven marketing agency IndigoLeap what key questions she would ask to identify any changes needed to keep your search results up to date and working for you.

Do my organic search results contain incorrect/out of date information?

Although SEO (the process of optimising your website to help your site rank in search results) is a long game rather than a quick win, it’s important to do all you can to keep your search results - and your site content - up to date. Now is the time to run a few searches and check how your company appears in the results.

In the early stages of lockdown, when things moved so quickly, changing page title tags and other pieces of information that Google uses to gather information about your site, may not have been front of mind. However, this means that for some companies their search results are out of date.

For example, an ecommerce company that normally offers next day delivery, may have previously added this fact to their page title tags - however now, if next day delivery is not an option, there will be a disconnect for customers when they click through.

So, what can you do?

First off, it is important to maintain your search rankings, so you don’t want to make changes that will impact or remove any target keywords - you just need to remove anything out of date.

Things you can do to help update your site and search listings are:

1. Check and update your page title tags
Although it is not guaranteed that Google will use your title tags and meta descriptions in your search results, if your business or offering has significantly changed, it’s a good idea to update the title tags on key pages of your website.

  • E.g. if one of your page titles is usually: “Beer & Ale | Next-Day Delivery | Beer Site” you could change this to: “Beer & Ale Delivery | Beer Site”.
  • Don’t include short-term information here - if you can, use information that will be accurate for the medium term, whilst removing anything out of date.
  • Keep your main keywords in there! (Unless the information is inaccurate just now, don’t make changes for the sake of it).

2. Check and update your meta descriptions
Similar to the above, Google will often use a site’s meta description tags in their search listing. If these contain out of date information, update your meta description tags to remove mention of unavailable services or out of date information.

3. Website copy and H1 Headings

Google – and obviously users – use the copy and headings on your actual web pages for information. If anything is very out of date, don’t forget to check and change these as well if needed (keeping your main target keywords in place).

4. Let Google know about your changes

Changing your page title and meta descriptions will not instantly change your search results - your site will need to be crawled by Google. You can request that Google re-indexes your pages by using the ‘URL inspection tool’ within Google Search Console for a couple of pages, or by submitting a sitemap for many pages. Do note that, according to Google “requesting a crawl does not guarantee that inclusion will happen instantly or even at all. Our systems prioritize the fast inclusion of high quality, useful content.” For more information see Google Support.

Should I continue with my existing SEO strategy?

If SEO and organic rankings are key to your business and ongoing marketing plan, then it is of course important to continue your SEO efforts and maintain and gain rankings.

There are two main reasons your strategy might need to change:

  • If your offering or the way you do business has changed significantly and these changes are here to stay, now is the time to factor this into your SEO efforts and develop a new strategy.
  • If your business has not changed significantly, you still need to be mindful that your customers’ needs and circumstances may have changed. Consider the content that you are planning to produce and actions planned, and ensure that it will still be relevant and acceptable through the lens of lockdown and COVID-19.

Should I be optimising my site for my new services?

If these are services that you will be continuing into the medium to long term that you need to actively promote then yes, you should be.

1. Consider new keywords
First, consider what your customers will be searching for relating to this new service. Put yourself in their shoes and write a short list of the terms you think people will use. You can then run these through a keyword research tool such as Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner or ahrefs Keyword Generator. Also check out Google Trends.

Keep in mind that search phrases relevant to lockdown - such as ‘at home’, ‘delivery’ and ‘online’ - have seen a huge pick up in search volumes since March 23rd.

2. Optimise your site
Once you have selected your primary target keywords it is time to begin to optimise your site for these terms. If your new service is very niche, this could be as simple as adding some new content to your site and optimising your key on-page elements (including page titles, H1s, etc.) for your target terms. However, if your new services are more competitive, you may need to work harder to rank for these keywords.

You can find out more about SEO and how to optimise your site here.

What should I consider in my PPC?

If you are running Pay Per Click advertising (like Google AdWords), you will need to keep on top of your ads, budget and ongoing strategy as we move through the lockdown phases and as your service or products change. It would be wise to reevaluate your entire PPC strategy, including your goals and objectives, location and keyword targeting approach, day-parting budget and ad copy to ensure your spend is working as hard as possible.

If you are working with an agency or a marketing professional, discuss your approach moving forward with them. If you are running your ads yourself, here are some initial things to consider:

1. What should your PPC activity look like for each stage of the lockdown?
Now that we have a Route Map from the Scottish Government, take the time now to make an outline plan of how your service, budget and PPC activities will need to change for each stage. For example, if your normal service will be able to resume but in a limited way in later stages, you can outline a plan for your increased PPC activity then.

2. What is your data telling you?
It’s important to analyse your campaign, website and user behavior data to determine how your ads are performing, how user behaviours have changed and how they are likely to change. Look through your PPC data to analyse how your ads have been performing. Also look at user search trends to see how user behaviour is changing - are there any new terms you could be targeting? Are any of your terms out of date just now?

3. Check active ads
It sounds obvious but after any change (in lockdown rules or from within your business - like staff shortages or stock issues) make sure all of your active PPC ads are related to services that you can still offer, and pause any that aren’t - it’s easy to overlook some in a rush. For example, if you are an online boutique selling clothing, if you have supplier issues with a particular brand, pause those ads immediately.

4. Update ad copy and landing pages
As we move through lockdown phases, if your service or products change it is important that your ad copy reflects this. Mention current service abilities, delivery capability, etc. Likewise, check your landing pages and make sure that these are still relevant. Either change the copy on these pages or land ads on more relevant phrases.

5. Promote new services
If the lockdown has introduced new products or service capabilities to your business, advertise on these terms now. For example, if you are a bakery who now delivers, update your PPC campaigns to include “bakery delivery” search terms and advertise to your service area.

For more information on PPC, see our Paid Advertising guide.

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