The global economy is estimated to suffer a loss of $2.7 trillion due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries have been in a complete lockdown for weeks, and it is easy to see the impact that this virus has on all aspects of business, including SEO and ad spend.

Businesses and individuals have feared a massive economic downturn, so sales and marketing have been going through a significant decline as customers focus on saving money for a rainy day. 

According to the Federal Reserve, in the worst-case scenario, the unemployment rate may reach as high as 32%, with more than 6 million people already claiming for unemployment in the United States.

The impact of the outbreak is enormous. It is affecting all parts of the world, prodding every individual and business to do their best and deal with this unprecedented situation. 

In this article, we take a closer look at its impact on SEO. while exploring some possible options that advertisers will have in front of them in the upcoming months.

Ad Spend Impact

The current situation has caused businesses to decrease their advertising efforts.

The advertising industry is looking at a $26 billion loss in revenue due to the outbreak of coronavirus. This is a massive impact on U.S. ad spend, amounting to a decline in revenue of over 10%.

Providers of search engine optimization services have also felt the impact of the outbreak over the last couple of months, as the global pandemic has led people to change their online behavior. 

SERP Updates

Google has made some significant updates and changes to make it easier for users to access coronavirus-related information. These updates resulted in COVID-19 information more readily available on the results page, as well as changes meant to help sites deal with the crisis.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Google has implemented various features to its user interface. The implementation of these features changed over time. When the virus began to spread, it was possible to find information on government warnings and a general summary of the virus and its symptoms.

As the situation got worse, Google launched a coronavirus-specific website. The site is still available and offers a variety of information regarding the spread of the virus, including recent alerts, safety and prevention tips, and even a Donate button for those looking to help relief efforts.

In the following weeks, Google decided to move much of the information from the website to the SERP itself. At the time of writing this post, all COVID-related searches bring up a panel including statistics, prevention tips and other relevant information.

Google’s COVID-19 Guidelines for Websites

Google isn’t exactly known for its hands-on approach when it comes to helping owners manage their sites. Desperate times call for desperate measures, however. Therefore, Google has released a set of recommendations on how businesses should structure their websites should they need to suspend operations temporarily.

The main piece of advice is not to disable your site, which Google called “an extreme measure.” That said, the company did provide guidance on how to do this if you need to. It goes without saying that companies will do everything they can to prevent disabling their websites, so it is undoubtedly considered a last resort.

The search engine giant offers some other options instead, including:

  • Creating pop-ups with information on the status of your site (according to Google’s guidelines)
  • Excluding certain products from the site
  • Disabling the shopping cart

Aside from site owners, Google has offered advice to medical clinics, small businesses and advertisers. On top of this, the search engine has gone on to give specific advice to health-related sites.

The advice states that such websites should use easy-to-understand language when discussing the coronavirus and titles and subheadings that accurately reflect the content on the page.

Other Coronavirus-Related Changes

As we pointed out earlier, there are many changes in the world of SEO coming from the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it seems that these changes are most prevalent in the sphere of local SEO.

Local businesses have had to deal with a new level of problems, and have had their world turned upside down due to this virus. This has caused them to make changes in how they operate in terms of Google My Business and SERP.

As a result of the global lockdown, many businesses have had to shut their doors completely. Others have been able to remain in operation with different working hours. 

Google advises such companies to use Google My Business to update their hours of operation. It is also asking these businesses to utilize the business description section to explain the current status of their operation.

When it comes to businesses that have been forced to close their doors due to the lockdown, Google has finally added the Temporarily Closed option into Google My Business. Local SEO’s have been asking for this functionality for a while, and it seems it only took a global pandemic for them to get it.


In a world gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, things are changing faster than ever before. Due to the global lockdown, businesses, large and small, have been forced to adapt to the new circumstances and create ways to continue their operations.

Google has done a fair share to help users access information related to the coronavirus, and it seems that the world of SEO is changing permanently as a result.

Maja Dukadinovska is a content specialist at Digital Silk. She writes for business and for pleasure, focusing on design and digital trends. Allergic to fluff and poor WIFI. Loves dogs and everything cocoa-based.

Seo stock photo by Tashatuvango/Shutterstock