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Impact of COVID-19 on Local Business SEO

Episode Overview: As the COVID-19 pandemic forces society to take drastic safety precautions with shelter in place methods, many businesses find themselves in danger of losing local business. Fortunately SEO is a vital tool that can help local businesses move their operations online and remain visible with their clients. Join host Ben as he concludes his conversation with Ana Raynes, CEO of Simplified Impact, as they discuss how local businesses can weather the pandemic with SEO.


  • The best way to protect your site and brand’s visibility during the pandemic is to create informative content that defines your business.
  • As society moves to shelter in place, maintain visibility with clients either via tele-conference software like Zoom or posting lecture or instructional videos to YouTube.
  • Build credibility by creating shareable content that focuses on visibility to remind clients your business can still carry out essential functions.


Ben:                  Welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro and today we’re going to continue our conversation about the resources you need to optimize SEO for local. Joining us again today is Ana Raynes, who’s the founder and CEO of Simplified Impact, which is a digital marketing agency for small businesses that empowers them to feel confident in executing digital strategies and locally focused marketing campaigns. So far this week Ana and I have talked about optimizing your content for SEO specifically to make a local impact and how to convert your local SEO visibility into leads. Today, we’re going to talk about the changing landscape of local SEO in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. Okay. On with the show. Here’s the end of my conversation with Ana Raynes, founder and CEO of Simplified Impact.

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

Ana:                  Hi, thanks for having me again.

Ben:                  Always a pleasure to have you on the show. We’ve covered a lot of ground talking about how to get visibility for local SEO, how to make sure that visibility is actually making a business impact and all of this is sort of clouded by the outbreak of the Coronavirus, which is obviously changing how local businesses work. When you think about how local SEO specifically has been impacted by the Coronavirus, what do you think about?

Ana:                 Oh man, it has been just really interesting last two weeks. I have to say I have clients in New York who have been completely shut down right now and as we navigate what that looks like and what to do, the impact is great because these businesses depend on mostly local foot traffic, right, or local communication or some kind of person to person interaction, which with social distancing and businesses completely being shut down, what do they do? Many have moved to having online models or restaurants delivering, pickups, things like that. But in some cases where businesses have been completely shut down, they aren’t considered essentials.

Ben:                 It seems like the service based industry has been the most heavily impacted here.

Ana:                 Yes.

Ben:                 The idea of going into a store, getting a haircut, getting your nails done. Some doctor’s offices have been closed if they’re not for essential services. There’s obviously a massive impact on different classes of businesses. When you think about the service industry, which is really sort of dependent on local foot traffic and in-person visibility, have you seen any changes in terms of how those businesses are working and are they relying on content and SEO to market those new services?

Ana:                Here’s the interesting part is that some of them weren’t and now they are and now that’s what they’re doing. Now, they’re starting to see strategically how important that content is. One of the things that I did just on a local level here in Rhode Island where I live, even though most of my clients, they’re worldwide, a lot of them in New York, California, so outside of Rhode Island, but here because it’s a smaller state and some of the local small businesses do tend to be quite small, relatively speaking, we are a very small state.

Ben:                The smallest.

Ana:                Exactly. But some of the local businesses here and just kind of giving some consulting for free just to support my community. What a lot of them haven’t done is just the basics, like the basic content, the basic mission statement, the basic, and I think if you’re listening to this and you’re in a small area, like this is the time to say, oh my goodness, content is so important, so important. The SEO part of it, like understanding and really putting out why do I exist? What makes me different? What are the keywords? Why would someone come to your restaurant? Why would someone come get their hair done with you? Why would someone come to your jewelry store?

Ana:                 Those things are, if nothing else you’re seeing right now and if there’s nothing that if you’re sitting home right now going, oh my gosh, how am I going to get out of this? The best thing to do to calm those nerves is to take action. Look at your website and say, where am I not serving my local community? Where are they not understanding it? Have a friend look at your site and be like, have them give you suggestions on like, okay, what are you not seeing here?

Ana:                 I can tell you every single site I’ve been on that’s hyperlocal here, I’ve been like, the one thing I’ve recommended is build more content. Explain what you do. Tell people if someone was landing from Mars, how would they know where your location is? What does that mean? How do they get there? All these really important things that SEO-ers like myself have been talking to them about that sometimes we take for granted when we work with different businesses, maybe bigger businesses and we know like, oh, SEO 101.

Ana:                 Please while you’re sitting home, first of all, it’s going to calm your nerves and your anxiety and second of all, it’s going to get you ready for when you’re back in business and that’s going to be a hand up. We’re going to get out of this, so while you’re in this like please, please, please, please, build your content is what my recommendation would be.

Ben:                 Well I think that’s a great piece of advice. I have a personal trainer. Obviously that’s a business where you need to be in person with someone. Hard to replicate, and one of the things that I advised him to work on is this is time to think about a business model change and build infrastructure for your organization. It is time not only to move towards a digital model. Hey, go record all the videos of all the exercises you do and send them to your clients in a customized package, but now you’re also building a content archive. You should be publishing that content, put it on YouTube, put it on your website, get it out there, take the advertising revenue, start building up momentum, moving towards a digital model and inevitably someday, hopefully very soon in the near future when we’re not all sheltering in place and dealing with social distancing, you now have a better marketing vehicle to try to improve your business and make up some of the ground that you’ve lost.

Ben:                 As you think about not only the service businesses, but also you mentioned food and restaurants, there’s other businesses that are moving towards different models. Do you see an impact on SEO? Are they relying more on SEO? Are people building more content? What’s actually happening on the ground in the wake of the Coronavirus?

Ana:                  I think you always have to be thinking about SEO when you’re building content, whether it’s YouTube, whether it’s on your site. I’ve been doing the same thing with some of my clients who are in the same spaces is building videos and Zoom and different landing pages that take that offline service online. Even with a hairdresser, we’ve been doing Zoom tutorials on how to take care of your hair while you can’t see your hairdresser for a while. Tips on doing your eyebrows. All things that like women want to keep up with that you go to a place for service.

Ana:                  Yes, there’s tons of videos on YouTube and sometimes that’s the argument and maybe it’s the fear of the local businesses like, oh, but you know I’m not this influencer and there’s this person that’s already doing it. Yeah, but there is someone that trusted you who wants to physically see you. Like you said to your personal trainer, take this time to create that content, optimize it properly, put it on your site, get it out there through different social media, whether it’s Facebook and get it up on YouTube. YouTube is the second largest search engine. That again, SEO is going to be so important for all this content creation, no matter what the vehicle is.

Ben:                  I think that’s great advice. For the businesses that are local businesses that are thinking about, well what does the world look like? All I know how to do is see people in person. There are waves of digital businesses and more and more content is being produced online, and just because there already is a video about how to cut hair or how to do a pushup, it doesn’t mean that your video won’t have value. What is important is you have to be realistic about the time it takes and the more content you produce, the faster you’re able to expedite the process. The more that you build credibility and the more the Google and YouTube search engines will start to prioritize you.

Ben:                  I think there’s also the idea of taking your content and sharing it with the people that you already have influence with and allowing them to share it. Even if you’re not going to rank first in Google, there is value in producing the content for local businesses.

Ana:                   Absolutely. I completely agree. Yeah. I mean, we all have client lists. We all have people that trust us or that we trust with our, like you said, hair and physique and all these other restaurants. I mean, there are ways to remodel and I think that’s what’s going to come out of this. I think there’s going to be a shift in how we think about business and how we easily move online to offline.

Ana:                   I was having a conversation with one of my friends. I’m homeschooling my daughter right now and so are many, many parents homeschooling.

Ben:                   Right here.

Ana:                   Yeah. Guided through whatever the school has sent out. One of my girlfriends was saying, she’s like, “I wonder if this is going to open up for families to travel and to be able to be more remote.” Let’s say, oh, next year maybe we want to take a month off and go to Europe and being that we have digital jobs, it’s easier to do that. Can we do that and still have zero impact on our child’s education because there’s an option of everything that I’ve been learning in school, they can also learn with their parents at home and kind of not even skip a beat. Looking at how things may change and where we may be going in the future is really fascinating and interesting to me.

Ben:                    It’s a brand new world out there. It’s trying times. Be happy that you don’t have a preschool student because there is no playbook for homeschooling preschoolers.

Ana:                    Oh goodness.

Ben:                    Woe is me, but Ana joking aside, obviously it’s a trying time. I appreciate you making the time to come on, be our guest and talk a little bit about how local businesses can make the most out of their content and SEO efforts in the wake of the Coronavirus. Thanks for being our guest.

Ana:                    Yeah, no worries. Thank you for having me. This was excellent. This was really fun.

Ben:                    All right, and that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast.

Ben:                    Thanks for listening to my conversation with Ana Raynes, founder of Simplified Impact. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. If you’re interested in contacting Ana, you can find a link to her LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact her on Twitter. Her handle is stylinAna S-T-Y-L-I-N-A-N-A, or you can visit her company’s website, which is

Ben:                    Just one more link to tell you about. 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 all of our episodes, contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topics suggestions, SEO questions. You can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast.

Ben:                    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. 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 an episode every day during the work week. Hit the subscribe button on your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed soon.

Ben:                    All right. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.

Tyson Stockton

Tyson Stockton

Tyson has over 10 years' experience in the digital marketing industry. As Vice President of Client and Account Management, Tyson manages the Enterprise Client Success team and SEO Consulting efforts at Searchmetrics. Tyson has worked with some of world’s largest enterprise websites including Fortune 500 and global eCommerce leaders. Prior to Searchmetrics, Tyson worked on the in-house side managing the SEO and SEM efforts of a collection of 14 sports specialty eCommerce companies in the US, Europe and Australia.

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