Episode Overview: Predicting what happens next in this chaotic year is ineffectual. What organizations can do is analyze their data and examine trends in their industries to set a path forward to success. Join host Ben as he concludes New Buyer’s Journey Week with Searchmetrics’ Director of Services Tyson Stockton as they discuss what lies ahead for SEO during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The best predictive method you can take is to continue improving your organization’s processes to ensure your company remains efficient and competitive.
- As you prepare for the end of the year it’s important you nail down and implement technical improvements now. One leading technical improvement to adjust for is to prepare for the debut of web vitals in the new year.
- You can prepare for longer buying cycles by producing top of funnel content now while positioning yourself to be flexible and agile when timelines shift.
GUESTS & RESOURCES
Ben: Welcome to the last episode of New Buyer’s Journey Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro. And this week we’ve been publishing an episode every day, discussing what you need to know to adjust your content strategy in today’s post-COVID outbreak world. Joining us for New Buyer’s Journey Week is Tyson Stockton, who is the head of services at Searchmetrics, which is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise-scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data-driven decisions. And outside of shepherding Searchmetrics’ largest and most strategic SEO clients to success, Tyson has kindly joined us to help us understand how we should modify our approach to understanding the buyer’s journey. So far this week, Tyson and I have talked about how the COVID outbreak has affected consumer behavior, which industries were impacted the most, how you should reconsider your buying journey and what not to do when it comes to rethinking your SEO strategies.
Ben: And today we’re going to talk about predicting the future and understanding what might be coming down the road in the wake of the continued coronavirus outbreak. Okay. Here’s the last installment of New Buyer’s Journey Week with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’ vice president of services. Tyson, happy Friday. We’ve made it to the end of the road. And we’re talking about the new buyer’s journey this week. So far, we’ve covered a lot of ground thinking about how to evaluate your website, how to understand what has happened, what you should be doing right now to maximize your SEO performance in a new world. But the world is constantly changing these days. We don’t know whether there’s going to be another shelter-in-place, whether the economy is going to reopen. How do we think about making sure that we’re building SEO strategies that are flexible and modifiable down the road in the future?
Tyson: Well, I got my crystal ball ready.
Ben: And who wins the World Series this year?
Tyson: Definitely not the Giants. I’ll tell you that much.
Ben: Definitely not the Dodgers either. It’s still baseball.
Tyson: No, I think a big piece of this is, we can place bets, but there is a fair amount that’s going to be left up to uncertainty. So, I think some of just the easy high level pieces, which we touched on earlier in the week, is this notion of validation through data and rechecking on shifting kind of search behavior and trends. That’s something that’s going to remain critical, I would say for this entire year. So, we know that we’re going to come out of this time. We know that things will rebound from it, but the when and how exactly we can make guesses.
Tyson: But the best advice is going to be one, to just be constantly monitoring that, to be looking for ways of improving your process and how efficient you are. I think to another point you made yesterday, as far as stop doing the things that may not be your core competitive area and focus on the areas that you do well, those types of pieces that are going to help prepare and make companies more agile to adapt to these kinds of changes. So I’d say that is from a high level, going to be the foundation element that then we can build upon other strategies.
Ben: One of the things that we talked about in a previous episode was getting ready for holiday. And I think that’s one of the biggest milestones that we need to start thinking about. Normally this part of the year, we’re talking about how to think of your holiday content strategy. The holidays are a tremendous unknown right now, who knows if we’re even going to have a Halloween for starters. I can’t imagine people are going to be running outside, giving away pieces of candy in October, but when we get to the more impactful from an ecommerce perspective holidays, we get into Black Friday and Christmas. That’s obviously up in the air too. When you start to think about holidays, it seems like you have to pick a side. Are you betting on Black Friday being normal or are you expecting it to be a separate launch? And how do we prepare our SEO strategies for the unknown when it comes to the end of the year?
Tyson: Yeah, I think the big piece, or kind of fundamental pieces would be your starting point. So, pulling back from previous pieces, I would say one, think of where you’re placing bets and your time and your team’s time. You’re placing bets and you’re hedging bets. So you want to be somewhat diversified, but you want to have a good portion of that in what I’d call kind of your safe bets. And so that could be tightening up technical elements. You have web vitals that you have the timeline, the clocks ticking on. You have other areas and are kind of more relevant to this week, as far as with content strategies, building that upper-funnel content now.
Tyson: But then when it comes more specifically within ecommerce, I personally would be preparing more from a rolling sale perspective. And we know that there is going to be a Christmas this year. It won’t be the same as previous years buying behaviors, types of categories that are more important or trending more is going to be an element of that, but we know that’s going to happen. And it’s more of, how do you solidify those general sale pages? How do you solidify when the timing is? So I’d say one, start way earlier, make sure that you’re prepped and ready. And then, when the activation campaign is like, hey, we’re launching next week, you’ve already set and have your core elements, your foundation done.
Tyson: So I’d say even more so in previous years, I would start earlier this year, and then that way, when they do come, whether it’s inching forward and again, my personal opinion on this is it’s going to come earlier. And we’ve seen that across the last several years, but I’d say it’s not going to be as pointed on specific days versus periods of time. So I’d say from the SEOs and also for creating content around this, make sure that you start earlier. So then when those timelines shift and change, you’re not caught without being prepared and without being ready for it.
Ben: Yeah. I think having the content baked early is probably a good idea, because that’s the easiest thing to modify. I think that, your technical changes and doing your foundation, that’s the things that you really need to nail right now. So, you mentioned getting ready for web vitals. That’s obviously critical. Getting your site speed and all of the sort of technical hurdles done. And then the last thing to me is, there’s a lot of coordination with your cross-functional team that has to happen in the holidays. And this is a chance for you to be a leader and to start talking about the holidays. And even though it’s not something that’s necessarily right in front of us, it is mostly for ecommerce companies, the biggest, most important time of the year. And so, talking about what scenario planning we need to put in place for the holidays, because you have months of lead time to be able to execute SEO campaigns, they’re not like performance marketing campaigns, is going to not only highlight you as a thought leader and a strategist in your organization. It’s also going to allow you to effectively operate at the last moment.
Tyson: Yeah. And I think something else for companies to consider is there’s a lot of freelance resources available right now. And if you’re thinking of what are the critical items that I have to do in-house versus something that do externally, I would probably default and prioritize more of creating what the topics are, what the pages are, what the keyword recommendations or content briefs are for those. And, especially if you’re in a company that doesn’t have a large editorial team, there are a lot of freelance resources, quality, freelance resources that are available right now. And so taking advantage of those now, early is going to be advantageous. So again, you’re prepared and you’re ready. And I think the other piece you mentioned is without maybe being in the office and having those dependencies on other teams, getting your plan out early, and knowing and identifying where the dependencies are, and getting it on their roadmap early is going to be a really critical aspect of being successful.
Ben: Tyson, any last words on how the buyer journey has changed, what SEOs should do and how they prepare for the future?
Tyson: I think, one of the biggest pieces that we’ve been talking about this week is, generally speaking, thinking of it as a longer buying cycle. So be prepared and make sure that you have that upper-funnel content. You’re getting the brand awareness, especially if maybe your category, your segments aren’t moving as quickly right now, and be prepared for that longer timeframe. And then also, be preparing yourself to be flexible and be agile when the timelines shift. Or the categories change that populate your pages. You can keep the same framework and then swap out different category groups within it for like a sale, if all of a sudden, right before the holiday, there’s another spike in a certain segment. So I think, preparation more so than previous years. Taking a broader look at content and how you can capitalize on more people being online right now, higher search demands. Summer’s usually a time for a lot of industries that have a lower search demand, but we’re not seeing that same trend this year as we did in previous years.
Tyson: So I’d say, use those differences for your advantage. And then, again and again. Be prepared early. Be prepared to make shifts and pivots in your strategy or in your activation campaigns. And I think those are going to be the most important elements to be successful in the latter half of this year.
Ben: Okay. That wraps up New Buyer’s Journey Week and this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Tyson Stockton, the head of services at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Tyson, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter, his handle is @tyson_stockton, or you could visit his company’s website, which is searchmetrics.com.
Ben: Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com, where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you could always reach out on social media. Our handle is @voicesofsearch on Twitter. And my personal handle is @benjshap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed soon. All right, that’s it for today. But until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.