It can be hard to plan a winning content marketing strategy when the future is so uncertain. A transitional phase is coming in the next few months, and right now is the time to start planning content to fit the new normal.
The brands that are going to come out this crisis strongest are those that create content that addresses the new problems and challenges brought on by the pandemic.
While every industry is going to be affected by COVID-19 in different ways, there are some fundamental changes necessary that you can use to help plan your strategy for the transition to the new normal.
One is adjusting your current keywords with new transitional terminology. The other is creating new content that addresses new safety concerns.
How to Adjust Your Keyword Strategy for the Transition
COVID-19 will have lingering effects for months if not years, so this idea of a new normal will be continually changing and it may feel like hitting a moving target. Most keywords that are on your calendar will still be in play, but will need slight modifications to reflect these transitional concerns that searchers will have.
Adjust for changing peak interest times
First you’ll need to identify the changing interest in certain keywords and determine if the timeline will move or just pivot. Find the peak times for your typical searches and adjust your content accordingly.
For instance, something like “party ideas” is at an all time low. As people start transitioning out of social distancing, this should creep back up, but content will need to be framed differently.
Another similar topic is “BBQ games”. Looking at the past 5 years on Google Trends, this typically peaks around Memorial Day at the end of May.
So, this too may need a modified approach if people still aren’t having large gatherings with family or friends.
Add transitional modifiers
For most topics, your existing keywords and content titles should now reflect safety and social-distancing concerns that will continue as we transition back to normal.
Here are some of the transitional terms/themes that you should consider adding are “safe”, “clean”, “remote”, and “virtual”.
Change title tags and metas
Not every post needs to be 100% changed or rewritten, but the focus should always reflect the upcoming changes in concerns and terminology.
Changing the title tag and meta descriptions will help ensure that you stand out in the SERP and updating the focus of your post should help hit those new topical keywords. If no one else is addressing the new normal, you can easily stand out.
Another way to look at modifying your content is by starting with safety concerns and working them into your strategy.
For that, let’s look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
New Safety-Focused Content Ideation
According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, after fulfilling basic physiological needs like food and shelter, the next thing that people need is safety.
Safety isn’t just a physical concern, however. It can be addressed in many ways, but we’ll focus on these main four: financially, emotionally, physically, and socially. By using the following equation, you can help get new ideas into your strategy: YOUR INDUSTRY + SAFETY NEED.
For example: Pet Owners + Physical Safety = Can my dog still say to people on the street?
You can also apply these to existing topics to either support your main keyword topics and build out hub pages around them or add sections to your existing posts.
We’ve broken down each of them with some more specific examples to help inspire some content ideas.
Obviously the physical well-being should be first and foremost in your content concerns. And since there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19, there will always be a lingering concern about germs and the threat of getting sick.
For those businesses not already addressing this on their website, you should make sure users understand how your business is maintaining a clean/safe environment for both customers and workers as outlined in our previous post on content marketing during COVID-19.
There is also plenty of informational content that users will be seeking around germs and cleanliness. We mentioned this above by adding the words “safe” or “clean” to core keywords. But these might spark new content ideas as well.
Some ideas may echo the content that was published just before shelter-in-place restrictions were set. Now, however, we have a lot more data/knowledge to work with. That should help inform better practices for different industries, like.
Here are some ideas that address safety concerns for different content industries/outreach markets (the industry/market is listed first).
- GYMS: How to clean up properly in the gym?
- FAST FOOD: Canned soda vs fountain soda: Which is more likely to pass germs?
- RESTAURANT: Are you currently comfortable eating at a restaurant inside?
Masks may continue to be a requirement in public places, which might lead into newer fashion considerations and other mask-related content:
- FASHION: Mask + jacket pairing guide
- BEAUTY: How to find a mask that fits your face
Physical well-being can often overlap into mental health, so you may want to consider them together.
This has been a trying time emotionally for many people. Stress, anger and fear are some of the more powerful emotions and unfortunately all very high right now. But, rather than prey on those with negative content, you should lean into the mental wellness aspect. Create content that helps people:
- MATTRESS/SLEEP: Science-backed tips for getting a good night’s rest
- WELLNESS: DIY calming essential oil recipes
There will also be emotions like love, relief, and joy that come after seeing loved ones again in person, but we’ll still need to maintain some form of social distancing:
- LIFESTYLE: X alternatives to greeting friends and loved ones without touching
- RELATIONSHIP: How to date during social distancing
Pushing your content towards positivity should help keep spirits high.
After work from home restrictions get lifted, many families will have spent lots of time together where they wouldn’t normally. Once they head back to work, there may be new problems that arise there:
- PET or PARENTING: Tips for dealing with separation anxiety (for children or pets)
Outside of general wellness, financial safety is probably the most obvious/pressing need (and can also overlap with emotional safety).
Unfortunately, massive layoffs and furloughs have caused money problems for people and businesses alike.
There are already some new (and will hopefully be more) federal and state government programs and policies that are going to affect businesses and people directly. Informational content around how these policies and programs work is going to be at an all time high.
You can assume any of these larger programs like the CARES Act will have growing search volume if they don’t already.
Other content ideas that fall into this bucket are those that help users with slim budgets:
- SENIOR CITIZEN: Money saving tips for seniors
- MONEY-SAVER: DIY alternatives to X
Or what about those industries that deal with cash? They may need to switch if physical cash is something that should be avoided due to germs:
- BUSINESS: Small business guide to cashless payments
- RETAIL: How to set up your retail store to ensure cleanliness
Those back at work making and spending money will mean a whole lot more social interaction, which brings us to social safety.
Looking to the future, there are going to be many ways that social interactions will change. Any content that takes place outside of your current shelter in place from large gatherings like events or concerts or to everyday social interaction at the coffee shop.
So, you should look to address concerns that people might have as they start using businesses again:
- LIFESTYLE: How long do germs remain on X surface (stadium seats, barstools)?
- TRAVEL: Uber/Lyft etiquette for drivers/passengers
While most social interactions between friends and family have been restricted to virtual conference lines, at some point we’ll be able to start partying. Help users come up with safe ways to interact and celebrate:
- LIFESTYLE: Safe X party ideas
- SENIOR CITIZEN: Ultimate guide to safe social clubs for seniors
There is also the work-side of social interaction as we mentioned previously with the keywords “remote” or “virtual”.
Figuring out how to get your workplace back to normal should be top of mind for business owners:
- BUSINESS: Team bonding activities you can do outside the office (if mass gathering isn’t allowed, but maybe a few people can meet up)
- BUSINESS: Meeting etiquette after COVID-19
We are already seeing certain industries that are experiencing new interest. For example, since most are stuck at home, pet adoption agencies are reportedly selling out of pets for the first time in years, which means the pet content market is going to experience a “baby boom” of its own.
Though things will be moving towards getting back to normal, there are other industries like preppers and survivalist culture that may also continue to see a growing interest as more people replay scenes of empty grocery store shelves.
Realistically there is no silver bullet for keyword research and content strategy going forward. As new changes and restrictions come from the CDC and/or government, the landscape will continue to change.
The best thing that you and your team can do is stay connected and informed. As the changes come, make sure that your information and content stays in sync with these changes.
And remember, this is a time when you should be helping your users feel safe and comfortable with the new normal. The strategies that are going to work for SEO and getting links are the ones that work for your users.