Marketing 3 min read

SEOs Consider the Effects of COVID-19 on Search

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SEOs have noted an unprecedented search result volatility since COVID-19 broke out in the United States.

In a recent episode of Search Disruption by Search Engine Land, a group of search consultants discussed the magnitude of the fluctuations. Also, they speculated potential factors that may be responsible for the flux.

Along with Search Engine Land‘s Barry Schwartz and Meyers, other SEOs present include Marie Haynes and Olga Andrienko of SEMRush. Mordy Oberstein of Rank Ranger was also in attendance.

Here’s a break down of the discussion.

How COVID-19 Has Affected Search in Recent Weeks

Unprecedented Ranking Volatility

Rank Ranger’s algorithm monitoring service noticed ranking fluctuations from March 15 through April 3. That’s 16 days of volatility.

According to Oberstein, such a consistent fluctuation hasn’t happened in the last few years. Andrienko provided a potential explanation for these changes.

“Google has different algorithms for every industry,” said the search consultant.

And seeing changes across industries meant for us that the complete and drastic changes in search behavior must have caused the algorithm to understand and behave differently and give different results or update the SERPs.”

Extensive Websites Updates

Website content has also been changing recently as social distancing, and other safety precautions continue to affect businesses.

Huge e-commerce sites suddenly have to show all their products are out of stock or remove products or add products,” Meyers said. “We’re seeing massive changes to sites that trigger index changes and ranking changes.”

Also, many companies are now considering new ways to make money online. In some cases, this involves offering products that they may not have before the pandemic.

Along with adding support for online transactions, sites are now introducing pickup and delivery options. In other words, site owners are fundamentally changing how their website works.

E-A-T Impact

Haynes pointed out that an algorithm update emphasizing expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (EAT) currently impacts results.

At the time, Google said it wants to surface sites that are known as authorities, especially in health queries.

If you do searches for anything important and related to the coronavirus right now, you’re going to see recognizable, authority health sites that are ranking well,” Haynes said.

Evolving COVID-19 Search Experience

The search experience for corona has undergone several changes since February.

From a new Alert sidebar to the statistics panel, searchers can now access multiple information about the disease directly on Google. However, these new features are manual updates.

As such, they have no impact on widespread volatility.

I don’t think they’ve written a specific algorithm for ‘here’s what we do because of the coronavirus’; they’re adapting to how the world changes their searches,” Haynes said, “The trick for us now is in trying to interpret what’s happening.

Read More: How Google Searches can Help Detect Emerging COVID-19 Cases

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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