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The Industries Most Impacted by COVID-19

Episode Overview: Every type of industry is affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing many to re-evaluate or overhaul their business operations to survive. Understanding how the buyer’s journey is changing throughout the crisis is critical to a company’s survival. Join host Ben as he continues New Buyer’s Journey Week with Searchmetrics’ Director of Services Tyson Stockton discussing which industries buyer journey’s were most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Companies that provide detailed information and content about in-store/curbside pickup features experience more success.
  • Despite the increase in user browsing behavior, conversions remain low. It’s vital to draw users into the buying funnel using informational content on how to best use your product or describe its various uses. This tactic sparks ideas and keeps it top of mind for users who are likely to progress down the funnel later.
  • Although travel and hospitality are some of the hardest hit industries, user interest and demand for the industry is still high. People are still looking for an escape post-COVID and searches regarding safety measures, cancellation policies and how to change reservations are increasing.


Ben:                  Welcome to New Buyer’s Journey Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro. And this week we’re going to publish an episode every day, discussing what you need to know to adjust your content strategy in a post-COVID outbreak world.

Ben:                  Joining us for a New Buyer’s Journey Week is Tyson Stockton. Searchmetrics’ director of services. Searchmetrics is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence, and make data driven decisions. And outside of shepherding Searchmetrics’ most strategic SEO clients to SEO success, Tyson is stepping in for a sick member of his team to talk to us about the new buyer’s journey.

Ben:                   So far this week, Tyson and I have talked about how the Coronavirus outbreak has affected consumer behavior. And today we’re going to talk about which industries, specifically, were impacted by the Coronavirus, and how that changes their user’s journey.

Ben:                   Okay, here’s the second installment of new buyer’s journey week with Tyson Stockton, Searchmetrics’s head of services. Tyson, welcome back to New Buyer’s Journey Week on the Voices of Search podcast.

Tyson:              Thank you, Ben. Let’s dig into some industries today.

Ben:                  It’s a brand new world. It’s a brave new world out there. Obviously, life has changed a lot. And for some of us, more than others. Hey look, my wife and I were fortunate enough. We’ve got some childcare taken care of. We got a private office to go work from. Life for us isn’t that different. It’s very different for a lot of other people. People have lost jobs, their livelihood. Most of us are just trapped at home with our kids.

Ben:                 So, that’s also the case with industries. Some industries have been massively successful in the outbreak of the Coronavirus, and some have been just decimated.

Ben:                Let’s talk a little bit about who’s who. Who’s been affected, and how the buyer’s journey has changed as a result of that. Who are the biggest industries that have been affected that you’ve seen positively, and how have they changed their buyer’s journey to meet the demand?

Tyson:             Perfect. So, let’s start off with an easy one, retail. And first looking at retail as an overall, versus just ecomm, pretty obvious where the winners and losers within that macro divide are. So, I’d say ecomm is definitely one that’s done well through this, but I would note that within that, it’s such a broad category, or broad industry, that it’s definitely not equal throughout that.

Tyson:              And within ecommerce, you have your categories that are doing quite well, call out a few fitness, sporting goods, one of the few activities across the country people can get into. But then, you take one, maybe, more high end luxury fashion. That one’s not done as well. Fashion, in general, has been a tougher line, unless you’re in the sweatpants area.

Ben:                  You haven’t bought your Louis Vuitton face mask yet?

Tyson:               I haven’t. I mean, I’m all onboard, and all in favor of the sweat pant purchases. But, I’d say, overall in fashion it’s just been a little tougher compared to the others.

Tyson:               Other areas, too, within ecomm that’s done quite well, more in the home and gardener, home improvement areas. People are spending so much time at their house. They’re re-doing the backyard, barbecue season. So, it’s those type of purchases have been doing well. And it’s also been heavily dominated by the ecomm and online purchases.

Tyson:                For the part of the question, though, as far as, what are people doing differently? I’d say within ecommerce, one thing is just having relevant information. So, you have a lot of companies that have an online presence, but then they might have things like in-store pickup. So, having curbside pickup, and having that verbiage added to their actual landing pages and their product pages, to then show the user, “Hey, if you want to come by the store, you’re going to be safe. This is how you’re going to get the product.” And that’s going to be something, I would say, almost universally applicable is, having information and content on your pages that address these very relevant, specific needs that consumers will have.

Ben:                    So, talk to me about the flip side of the coin.

Tyson:               The flip side of the coin. So, within ecommerce, and let’s take maybe some categories that are moving slower, aren’t doing as well. So, sometimes that could be in the big ticket items. And so for those, we discussed on yesterday’s episode that browsing behavior’s up, in a lot of cases, or in a lot of markets. So, we know people are still ingesting a lot of information, but maybe the conversions aren’t happening yet.

Tyson:                I would say that having that focus early in the buying funnel, where it’s just inspirational-type, it’s in those informational queries that we were talking about, that’s a good usage to get your name out there, get people in that early stage familiar with your product, for what your offering is.

Tyson:                And also, it doesn’t have to be just product-type information. If you’re in a category, and even though it’s one that’s doing well, let’s say running, there’s a lot of people that are maybe, historically, not runners. And so, articles like, How do I get into running? Training routines for beginner runners. That type of content is going to do quite well now because there’s a demand and interest for it.

Tyson:              And then, it’s also something that once that person needs that next pair of shoes, or whatever, you are already creating that top mind awareness with your brand.

Ben:                  Yeah. I think, obviously, there’s a different impact between retail and ecommerce. And I think that it’s important to highlight that if you are a retail store, some of the things that you need on your pages are socially distant notifications, letting people know how you can purchase items safely.

Ben:                 And I think that Google is looking for that content, as well. To me, what’s interesting is looking at companies like Shopify, and see how their businesses have taken off. And to me, that is a lot of impulse buys, right? People that are advertising on Facebook, using Shopify stores, they are the smaller retailers that have really taken off.

Ben:                 And some of those are the, let’s call them fashion or clothing retailers, that have a digital presence. It is not the big box retailers that have seen dramatic increases in sales. Talk to me about the winners and losers segment. Have we seen shakeups in terms of visibility from big ecommerce players, as opposed to small?

Tyson:            I mean, I would say the Big 10 ecommerce have done quite well through this. So, there are very point-in tactical approaches that the smaller brands are doing, which is effective. But I’d say from the macro lens, if I was to say, who’s doing the best through this time within ecommerce, I’m going to lean towards the bigger stores.

Tyson:            And I think that’s going to be the case because, one, they’re able to have local inventories. So, whether it’s someone who wants to make a purchase in the store, buy online and pick it up in a store, or just how visible and how much retail space they’re taking in the SERPs. I would say, it’s definitely the big companies, the most obvious ones going to be Amazon. And I think we did a study recently where we were looking at Amazon, not only are, obviously, ranking quite well and dominating a lot of the front page from a traditional ranking perspective, but they’re also grabbing up a lot of real estate on the front page from a SERP perspective.

Tyson:            And then, we’ve also seen some changes where they’re collecting stacked rankings, as well. So, I’d say Amazon would be the front runner for capturing the largest majority of it. But, I would say as a whole, the Big 10 have done quite well across this time.

Ben:                So, talk to me about industries other than retail. People are still buying goods, that’s obvious. Who are the other positively impacted industries during the outbreak of the Coronavirus?

Tyson:            I think other ones are just, we’ve talked these on winners and losers in the past, but the ZoomInfos of the world, Netflix. So, it’s online conferencing platforms where it’s, people are having to adapt to a new reality or a new norm. Also, just entertainment, in general. Social, I think, has done quite well through a lot of this.

Tyson:          So, I’d say that is another one that’s just across the board, water levels rising. And even though Zoom’s the front runner for the online conferencing. I mean, I think you can see gains on Microsoft Teams, some of those other platforms and resources that may not be the biggest front runner and player.

Ben:              I think I know the answer to this, and it’s going to be traveling hospitality. But for the industries that were negatively affected, some industries can’t operate. What advice do you have for them, from an SEO perspective?

Tyson:          I think travel’s really … And the hospitality is, too, for that matter. That’s a really good example because it is a little bit of an extreme, where it’s, of course, that’s not happening. But, it’s been really interesting to watch that the demand hasn’t changed. And in some cases, the demand has actually increased. And it really ties into what we’re talking about yesterday, that informational content.

Tyson:          So, I mean, myself, I love to travel. And I think this is the longest time that I haven’t been on a plane in the last seven years.

Ben:              You just went camping two weeks ago.

Tyson:          Yeah. But, that’s not flying. So, I’m doing camping trips and driving.

Ben:              Is it the airplanes you like, or is it the travel?

Tyson:          It’s definitely the travel, but it’s going to farther, and destinations further away. For myself. I’ve caught myself … I’m still researching places I’d like to go. I’m researching, when this is all lifted, what is the next country or destination that I’m going to be heading to?

Tyson:           And so, I think a lot of people have both been looking for that escape or that light at the end of the tunnel of, when they can be a little more mobile and free. And I think, on the other hand, which ties back into this buyer’s journey and what people are looking for is, you had a huge search demand and increase on a lot of the safety measures. What’s the cancellation policy? How do I change my reservations?

Tyson:           And so, you have this influx of people that maybe already booked, or maybe are looking to book something, but want to have that security. And I think that’s where it comes for, what do you need to do with your content, is you have to be going back and refreshing a lot of it because as Google adjusts its algorithms to what’s relevant, now there’s going to be this added need of cancellation policies, safety measures at the airports. Hotels, what are they doing? How are they limiting people? Or, how are they making sure that everyone stays safe, that comes through their doors.

Tyson:           So, I think you have both this, let’s call it daydreaming aspect within travel. But then, you also have this very pragmatic, what can I specifically do? Can I travel to this location? Is this place going to be open? And that’s creating a higher demand in search volume, but then, I think as time goes on, and the longer that we see this, Google is going to be picking up and depicting that as being relevant content to that query intent. And then, that’s where you can actually see some gains by having that information, too.

Tyson:           So, it’s going towards a user, which we’ve always said, for as long as SEO has been around, as far as, target the user, don’t target Google. And this is just another illustration of that is, we know and we see what people are looking for, making sure that’s added into your copy, not only satisfies the user needs, but I think we’ll also see search engines following that same direction.

Ben:              Okay, we’re going to continue this conversation tomorrow. We’re going to bring Tyson back, and talking about what you need to think about to reconsider your buyer’s journey in the wake of the Coronavirus. So, that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Tyson Stockton, the head of services at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. So, if you’re interested in contacting Tyson, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes, you can contact him on Twitter. His handle is Tyson_Stockton, or you could visit his company’s website, which is

Ben:             Just one more link in our show notes I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to the, where we have summaries of all of our episodes, and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions, or your 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. And 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 episodes every day during the workweek. So, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning. 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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