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27 March 2020 / News

5 Ways To Adapt Your Search Strategy In Uncertain Times


The events of the last week have had a dramatic effect on millions of people’s lives.

The events of the last week have had a dramatic effect on millions of people’s lives. Uncertainty over health, childcare, work, food and the well-being of loved ones has dominated all of our thinking over the past few days.

It has led to a shift in what we’re turning to the internet for help with.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s first televised National address on the 13th March in response to COVID-19 served as a catalyst for “home recreational essentials” with search topics such as “sports equipment” increasing by 1566% and “wine delivery” by 488%. We learn a lot about ourselves as a nation in times like this.

The Address also served as a catalyst for “Work From Home Essentials” with search topics such as “Mousepad” increasing by 133% and “Home Office” by 244%.

As people’s searches change to reflect new (increasingly home-based and socially distant) situations, it’s important that marketers adapt to the shifts in search behaviour.

Here are a few ways to navigate the next few weeks and to prepare for when we emerge from the current situation.

Identify and capitalise on emerging trends

Monitor your search query reports closely – look for increased use of convenience and supply modifiers as availability and fulfilment is valued more.

Searches containing “near me” start to fall as “online” services pick up.

If your business offers quick deliveries (and can still fulfil them), ensure it’s prominent in messaging, listings and on-site. Searches for next and same-day delivery will only continue to grow.

Listen to your visitors – use your Site Search reports and Hotjar polls

Your on-site search function is an absolute gold mine in times like these – demand and behavioural changes from your visitors are picked up directly. Use the Site Search report in GA (found under Behaviour on the left-hand side) as a listening board.

Surface the most searched-for products/services on relevant high traffic pages. Rethink, test and measure your carousels and other key product/service listing elements where relevant. Enabling Hotjar (or similar) polls can also enable you to get more specific insight.

Shift budget into investment channels

If you’re pulling back on sales activation because demand’s dropping, look to move that budget and resource into medium and longer-term activity that will pay dividends when demand picks up. With the previous points in mind, conduct a meta-data review and weave more highly valued services such as next day delivery into titles and descriptions. Has content taken a back seat? There are some definite benefits to content strategy, planning and creation with the headspace you’re afforded when working from home.

Bypass dev queues and do what you can from your CMS

Prioritising your activity in a busy dev queue can be difficult at the best of times. If dev time is booked up because the team is completely promo and sales activation focused, do what you can. Are you able to edit content and optimise existing pages in the CMS? Can you create new landing pages in your CMS without tech intervention? If so, now is the time to utilise those capabilities.

Maximise performance where demand is strong

Identify where demand remains strong (or has even picked up) and do what you can to capture and convert it. Your top landing pages and product reports are a good first port of call and can provide you with some quick wins. Segmenting and analysing site performance by product/area/service (depending on your sector) can help you identify and capitalise on bigger emerging trends. If you’re a retailer, think about splitting out essential and non-essential products.

We’re here to help however we can. If you have any questions, please either send over an email to [email protected], or a LinkedIn message