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COVID-19’s (Coronavirus) Impact on SEO

Episode Overview: As international communities rally to defeat coronavirus, the availability of online information and databases are critical to educating communities about the virus. SEO is playing a vital role in communicating info as health organizations race to publish the latest news and search engine giant Google changes SERPs to prioritize life-saving information. Join Ben as he continues his discussion with Searchmetrics’ SEO Strategist and Advisor Jordan Koene about the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on SEO and how search is playing a vital role in fighting the virus.


  • Organizations that are direct lines of support to the community such as health organizations, institutions researching coronavirus or pharmaceutical companies should write content addressing the pandemic.
  • Businesses and companies that don’t directly provide medical or health support to the public should avoid writing about coronavirus to avoid clogging vital information channels.


Ben:                 Welcome back to the Voice of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro. Today, we’ll be continuing our conversation about how to manage SEO through times of crisis and specifically how to work around the coronavirus. Joining us again today is Jordan Koene who is an SEO strategist and an advisor for Searchmetrics. Okay, on with the show. Here is my conversation with Jordan Koene, SEO strategist and advisor for Searchmetrics.

Ben:                 Jordan, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Jordan:             Hey, Ben. I’m diligently washing my hands.

Ben:                 It’s still pandemonium at the Koene house. Three kids running around. I appreciate that you are still making time for the podcast. We’re talking coronavirus today. It is the dominating factor in life, in marketing circles, in business. Let’s talk about how it’s impacting the SEO. Specifically, how much should SEOs be actually thinking about creating content and strategies around the actual coronavirus? Talk to me about keyword coronavirus.

Jordan:             Yeah. I think that unless you are in the direct line of support that is relevant to coronavirus, you really should be producing or creating content. Examples of what would be in the line of supporting the coronavirus epidemic, health organizations, universities, institutions that are researching this, pharmaceutical companies and other companies who are supporting the coronavirus.

Jordan:             Here in the Bay Area, there is pharmaceutical company who developed one of the tests for coronavirus that’s the shortest test window. I think you can result within three hours with their test. So, that is something that you should be publishing, because the public should know about it and is relevant to this epidemic. If you are not really in line there, I don’t think that this is a time or the place for really producing content on this matter.

Ben:                 I agree and I disagree. We’re doing coronavirus content right now-

Jordan:             I guess. Look at us.

Ben:                 I know. Hey, look, this is the world. This is reality. Now, should you be finding a way to show up first for the keyword coronavirus if you’re not going to be the World Health Organization? No.

Jordan:             Right.

Ben:                 The SEO community might be interested in this topic. Hey, look, business and life needs to go on. This is an immediate acute time of crisis as we are getting used to the new normal. We can’t walk six feet close to somebody. Obviously, people’s minds are about their health and their well-being, but the economy cannot completely shut down. This is reality. People are starting to think about how to market in an era where there is no short-term personal contact. Maybe you don’t want to jump the gun and just be coronavirus all the time and be dominating the news cycle, but this is reality.

Jordan:             It is our new reality. You make a really good point. The production of content or information surrounding this challenge that we’re facing as a society is one thing. I think marketing it and promoting it and pushing it is another. I’ve had a lot of phone calls this past week about where’s the line. Where is the line in the sand for us to be using this … Really this global catastrophe for our own well-being, for our own gain?

Jordan:             I think it’s a very tough … There is no book that you can open and identify chapter one, this is how you deal with coronavirus marketing. It just doesn’t exist. So, there is a line though. I think you’re making a really good point, which is how are we informing our own communities and our audiences around this? Some of the most authentic ways I think have been some artists have just started doing songs about the length of time that you should be washing your hands. Just-

Ben:                 [singing]

Jordan:             Yeah, right. Don’t give Ben a-

Ben:                 Sorry, wait, it was two minutes. [singing] Oh, I screwed it up.

Jordan:             So, it’s one of those things where we need to be very mindful and human about how we approach this situation that our world is dealing with while still operating our businesses. I agree. We don’t stop just because the coronavirus is out there.

Ben:                 Step one, just try to use judgment. Don’t go out of bounds when you’re doing marketing related to coronavirus. Now, in reality, the coronavirus is going to impact the marketing community. It’s going to impact budgets, and that’s going to have an impact on SEO. If you’re a health organization, obviously coronavirus content is going to be incredibly relevant. The Healthlines, the WebMDs of the world, I’m sure they are all over this right now. Talk to me about some of the other businesses where you think it might be relevant to talk about coronavirus.

Jordan:             Yeah, other businesses, I think that specifically talking about coronavirus is one aspect, but then there’s a lot of businesses out there who are approaching this in a really genuine way. So, a lot of the education websites, for example, we’re really going through a radical shift here where children are now not in school for a very extended period of time that is not summer. That is a real impact on families.

Ben:                 In California, it is until September. Jordan, you have to babysit three children-

Jordan:             Possibly. Possibly.

Ben:                 … I understand they’re your children, until September.

Jordan:             I’m pretty sure that not all three of them will make it that long.

Ben:                 Oh my god. We have a three week old baby and a three year old. I don’t know how many podcasts we’re getting out, folks. It’s getting weird.

Jordan:             It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be hard. A lot of the brands out there that are in the education space, especially the online education and the tutoring space have done really remarkable work to go out of their way to make their services available to remote learning. Zoom offered their platform for free to educators. I think Google has done a similar thing, which I think is phenomenal.

Ben:                 Zoom, the soon to be most valuable company in the world.

Jordan:             Yeah. Why not at this point, right?

Ben:                 Move over Apple.

Jordan:             Yeah. So, I think that to answer your question, there are some really good examples where companies, organizations have come out to really display a strong stance in response to this situation, in response to this crisis versus going after coronavirus itself and saying that’s what they’re about.

Ben:                 I think there’s a couple different things to think about here. Number one, this is an opportunity to use the platform that you have as a business to not focus on profitability and to focus on public good and helping people in their real lives. We have a podcast here. Reaches tens of people. Actually, thousands of people, fortunately. Go wash your hands, if I hadn’t said it enough. Please, wash your hands. You can get across the message that you need to using the platform that you have, supporting your local community.

Ben:                 If we can send hand sanitizer to everybody in the SEO community, if we can afford it, we absolutely would. Some businesses can, some businesses can’t. There is an opportunity for you to at least think about the platform. If you’ve done content marketing, if you’ve built an audience, you can help support them with tips on how they can get through this, advice, support. It’s not just about business right now. The world is going through a crisis. Money, in my opinion, only matters so much.

Ben:                 Now, it is still reality. That brings me to the second point is, as we think about the dynamic shifts in the landscape of business, we cannot ignore that this is happening. So, I don’t think that people should be profiteering. I don’t think they should be hoarding and selling hand sanitizer like what was happening on Amazon. I’ll give you an example. From my business’s perspective, we are targeting brands that were going to be advertising at events to become our sponsors of a podcast because they can’t spend their budget at events anymore. Those events aren’t happening.

Ben:                 So, there is a way to think about your business practices that is not out of bounds, which is realistic in this new environment. When you think about the coronavirus, Jordan, whether it’s keyword coronavirus or some of the impacts that are happening specifically related to this situation, do you have any advice for the SEO community?

Jordan:             I certainly do. For all of those who are listening and they have a business, or a nonprofit, or a school or whatever, whatever functioning organization they are a part of, by and large I’m sure most of our listeners have an audience. They have a customer base. They have a readership. They have students. One of the things that’s most important in these situations is think about what that audience needs. What is it that’s going to help that audience.

Jordan:             Sometimes it’s about being really dead simple. It’s about doing things that are fan appreciation, student appreciation. It’s not the most complicated thing in the world, but keeping things really simple and then publishing and producing and creating those experiences online will really pay dividends. Your own audience will become the amplification, the first megaphone that helps you then acquire and attract new registrants and new customers. So, I think that that’s the one thing that I’m talking to a lot of SEOs about right now is, how do you go back to your own, say, call it customer base? There is a lot of power in leveraging that as your first step as you kind of rethink how you’re going to make investments in SEO.

Ben:                 We talked a little bit about this podcast about whether we should be doing a SEO podcast, whether it’s an appropriate time. My philosophy here as the operator of this show, at some level people need to stay sane. We need to have some sense of normalcy. I think that’s important too. I don’t know about you, I’m going crazy at home.

Jordan:             Yep.

Ben:                 It’s really hard. This is just reality. You’ve got to do two things at once now. Hopefully if you’re listening to this podcast and you want to talk keyword optimization and position zero, we’re going to try to be there and give you something to think about. Maybe you’re at home and you have a little bit more time because you can’t go into the office. We’re going to help you learn a craft and continue to get better.

Ben:                 So, I want you to know from where we’re coming from. As much as I say this is the new reality and there’s ways that businesses are going to profit, it is not the intent at least of this show to be profiteers. We’re trying to produce content for you to help things stay normal. Folks, let me just go on and say, if you’re listening to this podcast, if you’re a member of the audience that we’ve built, obviously you’re here for professional education and maybe to hear Jordan and I make some dirty jokes.

Ben:                 We care a lot about the people that listen to this show, and we want you to stay safe and stay healthy. We care about you, the SEO community. We hope that having some familiar voices in your ears will help you have some comfort in a time that’s a difficult one. We’re all going to be okay. Wash your hands. Take care of each other. Optimize some keywords. Don’t take advantage of this situation, and everybody will come out on the other side.

Jordan:             That’s right.

Ben:                 Jordan, any last words before we let you go?

Jordan:             No. I think you put it really well there, Ben. There’s a lot for us to be grateful for. There’s too much fear mongering going around right now, but there’s a lot for us to be grateful for, especially people in the SEO community. This is one that has seen adversity and will prevail.

Ben:                 I will get off my soapbox now. We love you guys, girls, everybody that’s listening to the podcast. Thanks for being our listeners even in times of trouble. We’re trying to be here for you, and we appreciate you giving us something to talk about. Jordan, buddy, what would we talk about if we didn’t have the Voices of Search podcast?

Jordan:             Coronavirus?

Ben:                 Your kids. My kids. I’ve enough kids these days. Let’s just talk SEO.

Jordan:             I know, right? Exactly. Love it.

Ben:                 All right. That wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, SEO strategist and advisor to Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter. His handle is JTKoene. It’s J-T-K-O-E-N-E. Or you can visit his website, which is

Ben:                 One more link I want to tell you about, which is in our show notes, if you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to where we have summaries of our episodes, contact information for our guests. You can also submit us your topic suggestions or your SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voice of Search podcast. Of course, you can always reach out on social media. Our handle is VoicesofSearch on Twitter, or you can reach out to me personally. My handle is BenJShap. B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.

Ben:                 If you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a daily stream of SEO and content marketing insights to serve as a distraction from the coronavirus, we’re going to publish episodes every day during the work week. So, hit that subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed soon. All right, that’s it for today. Until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data. Go wash your hands.


Jordan Koene

Jordan Koene

Previously the CEO of Searchmetrics Inc, Jordan Koene is an Advisor to Searchmetrics, supporting the thought leadership and innovation. Prior to working at Searchmetrics he was the Head of SEO and Content Development at eBay where he led the development of content and technical improvements for the organization. He is an expert in SEO with over 20 year’ experience in the field.

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