Toronto Mike

How Toronto’s Brick and Mortar Business Used SEO to Survive the Pandemic

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Toronto’s businesses have struggled to survive the recent red zones, grey zones, lockdowns, and emergency brakes.

Stats Can estimates that over 25,000 of Ontario’s businesses closed between March 2020 and February 2021. The nimble ones were able to turn their attention online and quickly adapt to become an online-first business, while evolving to try to offer some of the same shopping experience to their customers.

“We’ve met with a lot of business owners that found themselves looking into search engine optimization for the first time ever,” said Toronto SEO services expert, Paul Teitelman.

“Many of them have been in business for a decade or more, so there is some catching up to do. But it is still very doable.”

Moving Everything Online

For years, GotStyle has been one of Toronto’s trendiest spots for high-end fashion, with their ultra-cool brick-and-beams Distillery District storefront and their in-house DJ spinning music. But their shopping experience ceased to be their competitive advantage when COVID-19 struck. They had to find a way to bring some semblance of their fashion sommelier experience online.

They were forced to pivot or perish, so they quickly invested heavily in creating a new online guided tour, allowing visitors to click and buy items as they appeared on-screen.

This has been crucial to GotStyle’s survival as they have had to deal with all of the false starts and sudden stops that have come with changing COVID-19 regulations.

Doing Everything on a Budget of Nothing

Many storefront businesses had never previously invested in SEO because they always thought it was too expensive. But now, they’re being forced to cut costs, tighten budgets, trim staff, and then still try to find some money to invest in SEO.

The good news is that absolutely any work or money they invest in SEO is better than none. It’s been estimated that only about 30% of small businesses have an SEO strategy in place. That means that a small business could potentially be ahead of 70% of the other businesses out there if they embrace some tried, tested, and true basic SEO tactics like:

  • Running/ refreshing keyword research
  • Making sure those keywords are used and optimized on every page
  • Using those keywords to come up with blog ideas
  • Making sure their images are compressed for web use and don’t slow their pages down

Those tactics are all free-or-cheap to do and can be carried out by a novice with a trial version of a tool like SEMrush or ahrefs.

There are also countless free walk-through videos and blogs that can show you exactly how to use these tools, and how to implement the insights that they provide. Budget-conscious businesses can also do things like binge-watch Moz’s very insightful and surprisingly entertaining Whiteboard Friday series.If the last year has taught Torontonians anything it’s that we have no idea what tomorrow will bring, or when the world will go back to normal. This means curbside pickup and online shopping are here to stay. The bad news is that moving a traditional brick-and-mortar business online isn’t easy. But the good news is that it is probably easier than you think.

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