Location, Location, Location: How COVID-19 Will Change the Way We Live and Search

Crowd in New York City street.

Location, location, location — this is a central tenet for many local businesses. Got a shop or billboard in Times Square? You’re gonna get massive brand exposure.

But in the midst of COVID-19, all that is changing. And it’s not clear how the pandemic’s impact will change how local (and other) businesses market — for good.

Life & Work Changes

I discussed recently how this crisis could permanently change the way people work. What if half of the workforce permanently works from home? What happens when skyscraper occupancy is at half capacity?

This will surely have a ripple effect on all the businesses that rely on transporting and serving those people on a daily basis. And the exposure from that traffic.

In a WFH economy, neighborhoods will be where people spend most of their time — grabbing lunch down the street or walking to their local coffee shop. While it could be business as usual for those who live in Manhattan, for example, things will dramatically change for the suburbs.

Foursquare is tracking foot traffic. It is dramatically down in places you would expect, like airports and hotels.

CV-19 impact on airport & hotels data chart.

But foot traffic is up in grocery and warehouse stores.

CV-19 impact on supply stores data chart.

Google is also tracking foot traffic around the world with its mobility reports. These show how communities are reacting differently to COVID-19.

Google mobility chart.
Community Mobility Report, Ventura County, Calif., Google


In the future, local neighborhood businesses will likely thrive in a work-from-home economy. Others might need to work harder to survive in a world where people travel less, such as gas stations or car lots.

New business opportunities will also emerge as a result of the new economy. For example, WFH office equipment and consulting, homeschool education and activities, productivity software, and online entertainment. (Perhaps even baby goods and services will be more in demand in the near future?)

At the heart of all these changes is still the need to be in the most ideal location for your customers. And for many, that starts with Google’s search results. As exposure decreases from foot and car traffic, people will continue to go online to find what they need and where to go.

Having experienced a new way of living, consumers are recalibrating their spending, increasing the likelihood that spending may permanently shift between categories and that online services could get adopted far faster. Decoding this new normal—and ensuring that the company has a strategy to navigate it—is an important part of the work of a nerve center.

-McKinsey & Company, COVID-19 Implications for Business

How Search Is Changing

Right now, the way people search is changing — and there could be a permanent shift.

For example, grocery stores and productivity tools are experiencing massive growth in search queries as of late.

trends.embed.renderExploreWidget(“TIMESERIES”, {“comparisonItem”:[{“keyword”:”Grocery store”,”geo”:”US”,”time”:”2020-01-03 2020-04-03″}],”category”:0,”property”:””}, {“exploreQuery”:”date=today%203-m&geo=US&q=Grocery%20store”,”guestPath”:”https://trends.google.com:443/trends/embed/”});

trends.embed.renderExploreWidget(“TIMESERIES”, {“comparisonItem”:[{“keyword”:”Slack”,”geo”:”US”,”time”:”2020-01-03 2020-04-03″}],”category”:0,”property”:””}, {“exploreQuery”:”date=today%203-m&geo=US&q=Slack”,”guestPath”:”https://trends.google.com:443/trends/embed/”});

Others like restaurants are not faring well, but food delivery is up.

trends.embed.renderExploreWidget(“TIMESERIES”, {“comparisonItem”:[{“keyword”:”/m/06l8d”,”geo”:”US”,”time”:”2020-03-03 2020-04-03″}],”category”:0,”property”:””}, {“exploreQuery”:”date=today%201-m&geo=US&q=%2Fm%2F06l8d”,”guestPath”:”https://trends.google.com:443/trends/embed/”});

trends.embed.renderExploreWidget(“TIMESERIES”, {“comparisonItem”:[{“keyword”:”food delivery”,”geo”:”US”,”time”:”2020-03-03 2020-04-03″}],”category”:0,”property”:””}, {“exploreQuery”:”date=today%201-m&geo=US&q=food%20delivery”,”guestPath”:”https://trends.google.com:443/trends/embed/”});

Search Traffic Will Be Key

For many businesses, this is a critical time to be found online. When the dust settles, it will be as important as ever to survive.

Whether you’re a local business that needs to disseminate key info, a business that needs to pivot its offerings to stay relevant, or a business that will thrive in the new economy, that means optimizing your digital presence.

A recent local business survey from BrightLocal shows some promising results. While the majority are losing customers, they aren’t losing sight of the big picture. Many report their efforts to improve their websites and customer service.

How might this new economy impact Google Search? I imagine Google will get better at returning relevant search results for queries it believes are local. Perhaps to the point where appending “near me” to the query may not be necessary.

Local Business Necessities

Regardless, local businesses will want to ramp up their optimization so that local searchers can find them. Certainly, if you’re a local business, you’ll want to read this checklist for local search optimization.

For non-local businesses, think about the demands of this new WFH economy, how that will impact your offerings, and how you optimize. Our Always Up-to-Date SEO Checklist is a good place to start.

If you want to survive in this new digital world, you have to be digitally connected to be found.

For local businesses, prepare for a future where fewer people drive past or walk by your store, where the first touch point is a Google search. In this new world, search traffic is just as important as foot traffic.

If you’d like to know how to improve your website’s visibility in search, contact us for a free services quote.

FAQ: What are the key challenges local businesses face in the new work-from-home economy, and how can Location-Based Marketing address them?

The global work landscape has transformed dramatically, with remote work becoming the norm for many employees. While this shift offers flexibility and convenience, it has presented many challenges for local businesses striving to stay afloat.

  1. Maintaining Visibility and Foot Traffic  

Local businesses often rely on foot traffic, which has dwindled as remote work reduces the number of people passing by storefronts. Location-based marketing leverages geo-targeting to reach potential customers in the vicinity, boosting foot traffic by delivering personalized promotions and offers to their mobile devices.

  1. Adapting to Changing Customer Behavior 

Consumer habits have evolved, and businesses must adapt. Businesses can adapt their offers to changing customer demands through location-based marketing, providing businesses with a way to stay relevant in an ever-evolving marketplace.

  1. Competing with E-Commerce Giants  

Local businesses often struggle to compete with e-commerce giants. Location-based marketing can help businesses target customers with location-specific promotions and incentives, fostering loyalty and drawing customers away from online behemoths.

  1. Managing Operational Costs  

Reducing overhead costs is essential in challenging economic times. Location-based marketing can optimize advertising spend by focusing on the most promising areas, ensuring marketing efforts yield the highest return on investment.

  1. Building a Robust Online Presence  

In the digital age, having a strong online presence is vital. Location-based marketing assists local businesses in building their online reputation, as satisfied customers can share their experiences and reviews, helping to attract new patrons.

By integrating Location-Based Marketing strategies, local businesses can thrive in the work-from-home economy by addressing these challenges effectively.

Step-by-Step Procedure: Leveraging Location-Based Marketing for Local Business Success

  1. Identify Your Target Audience: Define your ideal customer and their geographic location.
  1. Utilize Geo-Targeting: Employ Location-Based Marketing tools to target customers in specific geographic areas.
  2. Analyze Real-Time Data: Monitor customer data to adapt your offerings in response to changing behaviors and preferences.
  3. Personalize Promotions: Tailor marketing campaigns to offer location-specific promotions and incentives.
  4. Optimize Advertising Spend: Use data analytics to allocate your marketing budget efficiently.
  5. Build an Online Reputation: Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews and share their experiences online.
  6. Stay Informed: Stay updated with Location-Based Marketing trends and technologies to remain competitive.
  7. Monitor Competitors: Analyze how your competitors use Location-Based Marketing and identify opportunities to differentiate your business.
  8. Educate Your Team: Ensure your staff understands and can implement Location-Based Marketing strategies effectively.
  9. Evaluate Results: Continuously assess the impact of your Location-Based Marketing efforts and make adjustments as needed.
  10. Maintain Consistency: Keep your messaging and promotions consistent across all online and offline channels.
  11. Engage the Community. Participate in local events to build customer loyalty.
  12. Offer Value: To retain customers, offer exceptional service and value to encourage word-of-mouth marketing.
  13. Measure ROI: Regularly measure the return on investment from your Location-Based Marketing campaigns.
  14. Adapt and Innovate: Stay flexible and open to new Location-Based Marketing strategies and technologies.
  15. Seek Professional Guidance: Consider consulting with Location-Based Marketing experts for guidance.
  16. Build partnerships: Establish relationships with local businesses to strengthen and expand your presence.
  17. Emphasize Customers: At the center of all your marketing initiatives should be customers’ needs and preferences.
  18. Evolve and Grow: Continuously evolve your Location-Based Marketing strategies to meet changing market conditions.
  19. Celebrate Success: Recognize and celebrate the successes and milestones achieved through Location-Based Marketing.

By following these steps, local businesses can harness the power of Location-Based Marketing to overcome the challenges posed by the work-from-home economy and position themselves for long-term success.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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7 Replies to “Location, Location, Location: How COVID-19 Will Change the Way We Live and Search”

Some very interesting tips that can be applied easily.

I read this blog and have good stuff in this, But I would like to add some basis things to add like citation links are very important when you are talking about local business. Citation links are a basis part of off page SEO activities. But you should add a section about the same.

Thank you for providing statistics. We work in the web development industry, and we noticed a little bit higher traffic at our sites.

Thanks for sharing such a valuable article at this time.

Thank you for providing statistics. We work in the web development industry, and we noticed a little bit higher traffic at our sites.

This will result in increased opportunities for Freelancer Writers and others to embrace coming changes and pivot their services for more business opportunities.

The changing landscape is full of wonderful prospects!

Moving forward day by day with all these changes :-)


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