• Come out of the pandemic stronger than ever
  • Idled non-technical employees can help improve your SEO
  • Here are 8 things non-technical people can do to improve Google results
  • Resources for further learning are included

We’re living through an unprecedented economic shock. Entire industries have shut down essentially overnight. Work orders have dried up. Bills are coming due — fast.

If you’ve managed to weather the storm with your payroll intact, kudos. You’re one of the lucky ones. But you’re also probably not operating at peak capacity. With the entire world seemingly in a holding pattern, you’re looking for make-work projects wherever you can find them. Anything to keep your idled employees from twiddling their thumbs.

Start with a make-work project that’s likely to have a meaningful impact on your company’s lead generation efforts, pitiful as they might be at the moment.

That’s right — we’re talking about those long-delayed plans to improve your SEO without outside help.

To be clear, your idled non-technical workforce isn’t a perfect stand-in for a team of SEO professionals. But they can do more than you might think. Assign these eight SEO-related tasks as you see fit, keeping in mind that some are ongoing projects that will continue to consume resources after things return to normal — whenever that happens to be.

1. Brainstorm and deploy long-tail keywords in onsite content

You already have a lot of content on your site, add long-tail keywords and relevant supporting content to your existing pages to improve search engine ranking.

Why this works

The relationship between keyword length and search volume is usually (but not always) inverse. In other words, more people search for shorter, less specific keywords than longer, more specific alternatives. But in this case “more” may not equate to “better” for you because these search phrases are extremely competitive.

It makes sense. Just about every American in the market for a new Toyota minivan is going to type “Toyota Sienna” into their search bar sometime early in their buyer journey. The subset of Sienna-seeking Americans who go on to type “Toyota Sienna dealership Seattle” is much smaller (and “Toyota Sienna dealership Boise” is smaller still — you get the idea).

What this means for you is that it’s way easier to rank for relevant long-tail keywords than their generic “short-tail” equivalents.

2. Publish at least one piece of in-depth, high-value content

…per month, if possible, but it’s okay to start with one.

Why this works

It increases website traffic. Think real-world case studies, topic-driven white papers, reports based on original market research. How is this relevant to your SEO? Two words: inbound links. A high-value long-form report or study is much more likely to serve as a legitimate resource for non-experts than a throwaway blog post. This means it’s more likely to attract inbound links from the sorts of websites that search engines like. That is, if it’s publicly visible to search bots, not “gated” behind a purchase screen.

Whatever it is — Detailed, exhaustively researched, relevant-to-your-audience content showcases your expertise. Insiders call this “thought leadership,” which is a short way of saying “an expert to whom non-experts look for insight on a particular subject.”

3. Get an email newsletter going

This is another well-worn tactic to indirectly drive inbound links (in this case, by directly driving inbound traffic to your site). It’s especially important for publishers in crowded industries or niches where organic search is highly competitive and paid search is dominated by deep-pocketed rivals. A newsletter is your opportunity to spark conversation on your own terms, not media or search gatekeepers’, and build a steady stream of inbound search traffic in the bargain.

4. Create or update your Google My Business listing

Claim and update your Google My Business profile because it is especially important for enterprises dependent on local search and walk-in traffic. Google pulls information from your GMB profile to populate your Knowledge Panel (along with other data it collects).


It’s vital for web-based, location-independent businesses too. Your Google My Business listing is a guaranteed first-page-of-Google showcase for your company’s best self — content you create, on your terms, with way better visibility than your actual website.

5. Optimize onsite photos

Faster sites rank better. One of the biggest issues with site speed are photos that are too large.

More, better optimized photos can also result in more traffic to your site, especially if they are well-marked up and optimized for search engines. Task a non-technical (but visually adept) employee with optimizing photos already present on your website. That means:

  • Compelling, evocative title tags with at least one relevant keyword
  • Alt tag with keyword variations
  • Longer captions with at least one relevant keyword (but no stuffing)
  • Resizing and/or reformatting images to reduce load time. Smaller is far better.

Then, have them add images to any webpage or blog post that appears too text-heavy at a glance. Repeat the optimization process for each one. See the resource links below to learn how to optimize images.

Inbound links increase the search engine ranking of your website. One easy-ish way to get people to link to your content is through “link bait”. Those in-depth, highly authoritative pieces of long-form content aren’t the only types of “link bait” your fully optimized website should have. Brainstorm and publish other types of content likely to attract inbound links from high-authority sites:

  • Testimonials or recommendations for non-competitive businesses (for example, fellow retailers in your city or neighborhood)
  • Product or service reviews that your audience might find relevant
  • Detailed “best of” lists that your audience might find relevant
  • Detailed tutorials about topics or processes relevant to your audience, even if they’re highly specific

Be sure to pepper these resources (and any like them) with appropriate long-tail keywords and, if it makes sense, links to topical pages on your own site. Remember, absolute search volume is far less important than rank and relevance.

Tip: Ego-bait is content that mentions someone and builds up their ego. The person mentioned is somewhat likely to retweet, promote, or link to that content.

This is another way to shore up your long-tail keyword game. Because they’re so easy for publishers to manipulate, internal links aren’t as important for SEO as inbound links, but they could help on the margins and increase your chances of attracting inbound links for the same or similar keywords.

Long-tail keywords are three and four keyword phrases that are very specific to products or services you are selling.

8. Create a long-term, long-form content calendar

Planning is essential to follow-through. So, if you’re serious about building on your newly reinforced SEO foundation, you need to see your future.

With that end in mind, task relevant staff with laying out your long-term content plans at least through the next quarter. After approving or rejecting topics as you see fit, have your team research and outline each piece of content. And, while you’re at it, publish a style guide to keep their work inside reasonable guardrails.

Make the best of a terrible situation and keep your team working

The coronavirus pandemic is a tragedy, full stop. Its silver linings, if any, are cold comfort in the face of so much suffering.

This is a scary time for businesses too. Countless entrepreneurs are watching years of toil evaporate in the blink of an eye. Many businesses won’t survive the year.

Yet those enterprises that end up weathering this storm and emerging stronger on the other side will be those that resolved early on to make the most of a terrible situation: To put idled resources to productive use. To take an unsparing look at their weaknesses and fix them, one by one. To turn adversity into strength.

Years from now, you’ll remember how you responded to a situation that couldn’t possibly seem any bleaker, kept your team working, and improved the strength of your online brand.