With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing lockdown and strict social distancing guidelines, our reliance on the internet has gone through the roof.
Shops have become reliant on their ecommerce store; restaurants are reliant on takeaways and families are swapping get-togethers for online video calls.
As is the case with any time of economic uncertainty, some businesses will thrive and others will struggle.
For example, Zoom, a video conferencing software saw their website traffic increase by 67 million visits during the month of March.
On the other hand, Primark sales plummeted from £650million a month to zero with the forced closure of their stores and the absence of an eCommerce store.
Even businesses with an eCommerce store have seen revenue drop significantly due to a decrease in consumer spending following the uncertainty surrounding household incomes.
As a marketer, I’ve seen some client’s traffic and conversion nosedive whilst others have remained relatively unaffected.
According to Marketing Week, just 7% of UK marketers are taking the strategic approach to invest more in marketing during the coronavirus pandemic, whilst 50% are making cuts so that they can ‘live to fight another today’.
With conversion rates sliding, it’s likely that paid ad campaigns such as Google and Facebook Ads will be the first to go, and that’s understandable.
One strategy that I believe businesses should be doubling down on during this time is SEO. Throughout this post, I’m going to discuss my reasons for this.
Search engines have not shut down
It goes without saying that search engines are still operating 24/7. Not only that, but they continue to update their algorithm meaning rankings will continue to fluctuate.
On March 16, Barry Schwartz, the Editor of Search Engine Roundtable placed a Poll on Twitter asking whether Google should stop pushing out search algorithm updates during the COVID-19 outbreak. Some 58% over voters said Yes.
On May 4, Google released it’s ‘May 2020 update’, which has undoubtedly been one of the most significant updates in recent memory. Marketers worldwide have commented on the volatility of the Search Results, with rankings seemingly fluctuating on an hour-to-hour basis for over a week.
It’s clear that Google isn’t sleeping, and neither should marketers.
Several industries are seeing search volume increase dramatically including health and wellness, news and cooking/recipe sites.
And although many industries are struggling, it’s important to realise that this is a blip, and things will get better in the long term.
Even if you’re operating a business that has been forced to close such as a gym, restaurant, bar or salon, now is a fantastic time to ensure your site is prominent when things are up and running once again.
Even a small local business can create and optimise a Google My Business listing, ask past customers to leave reviews, post updates and get listed on local directories. All these things will help to ensure your website ranks well locally when search volume returns to normal levels.
Competition is likely to go down
‘Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful’ – Warren Buffet.
Despite what the media may say, the economy has been good for several years now. This has allowed us to become greedy with our marketing dollars; experimenting with different strategies, increasing our CPC and spending more on ad creative.
It doesn’t take an economist to work out that we’re likely to see some economic downturn as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In-fact, meany experts are predicting a lengthy recession.
Typically, competition drops during economic downturn as companies become fearful of spending on anything that’s not a strict necessity.
I’d be willing to hypothesise that SEO is one of those things that will fall by the wayside during this time of economic downturn. Businesses will cut their ties with agencies, reduce the size of their marketing departments and cut spend on SEO related software.
Doubling down on SEO during this time may not pay dividends yet, but when things start to open again, everyone else will be playing catch-up.
SEO is low-cost
You may be reading this and saying to yourself “this is all well and good but my revenue has plummeted. You’re telling me to double-down on marketing, how am I supposed to afford that?”
Believe me, I get it. Despite everything I’ve said in this post, my revenue was cut in half as a result of client’s reducing spend or cutting it altogether.
However, I haven’t been frivolously spending on Google Ads, I’ve been using this time to double-down on SEO on mine and my client’s websites.
This is because SEO is low-cost.
In-fact, the only real investment required to improve your rankings is time, and whilst I always stress that SEO is a long-game, it’s not uncommon to see fast results.
Below is a screenshot of a client that I took on at the start of April:
As you can see, over the course of just 5 weeks, I’ve helped to increase their weekly organic traffic by 74.51% (did I mention that they operate in the travel sector – one of the worst affected by the current climate).
This client had never focused on SEO before. Subsequently, their site was in desperate need of some optimisation.
Over the course of April, I helped to fix several outstanding technical issues including broken links, missing meta tags and sitemap errors.
We then started to focus on content, auditing and optimising the main pillar pages. I also ran a backlink audit and disavowed/removed any toxic backlinks.
Over the coming months we’ll be turning our attention to the creation of optimised content and backlink acquisition.
Despite these tough times, I expect to see traffic continue to rise over the course of May and into June. And these results are not unique, I believe they are replicable for a lot of businesses.
For a short period of time I’m offering free SEO audits to all businesses, if you’d like to learn more about how you could grow your website traffic, then I’d love to hear from you. All my contact details can be found here.