I have seen a lot of “It’s the best time to invest in SEO!” chatter on the socials. The Rt value of that message is definitely >1 in this industry, and it is certainly in my interest to believe it. But is it true or just the usual self-serving rap boast by a profession that thinks itself the most gangsta in all of digital marketing? Oh sorry, that’s the affiliate marketers…

In 2008, at the height of the Vampire Squid craze, my consulting business grew by something like 25%. I was a solo practitioner at the time with a modest number of clients, so all it took was a few new ones to grow like that. I assume it was a good investment for our clients (some are actually still with us!), but is past performance an indication of the future?

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PPC IS NOT PPE?

We have certainly seen many clients pause their PPC campaigns. The ease of setting them up works in reverse after all. One of the reasons we have not as an agency embraced PPC is that it can make clients feel like you had your hand in their pocket every day.

But SEO is such a longer-term game than PPC, or even Social (which can require brands to spend time actually building some kind of relationship with customers), so why would companies that are furloughing and laying off employees invest in something that is not going to show immediate results?

      1. For many businesses there are no immediate results to be had.
        It’s hard to buy demand that isn’t there, but what about demand down the road? Last week we got contacted by a small hotel in Baja. They have no business now, but were planning on adding more rooms by the end of the year and knew they would need their SEO issues solved by the time the economy came back if they wanted to make it. Same with the event venue in Brooklyn that was under construction when shelter-in-place started. If you are in “about to open” mode, SEO is one of the few digital marketing investments that makes sense at the moment. It’s a bet on the future (which tends to be a good bet, even if the odds of an actual future keep getting lower).
      2. Now you really don’t want to screw up your SEO
        When most things in your business are not going great, the last thing you want to do is to make them worse. As those of us who have been plying the SEO trade for way too long know there are many more ways to destroy your organic traffic than there are to grow it. We are seeing a lot of businesses using the current slowdown as an opportunity to redesign, replatform, rebrand, etc.
        There’s a reason this is the hero image for our SEO for Website Redesigns page:

        And this is the hero image for our SEO for Domain Name Changes page:

      3. Not Being Prepared For The Future Is How We Got Here In The First Place
        If you are the kind of business leader who guts your ability to fight pandemics two years before you have the worst pandemic in the past century, you may not care about what your business will look like two years from now. But if you are used to spending a large part of your marketing budget buying customers via clicks, you now are in the midst of a grand experiment about how powerless you are when that budget goes away.
        SEO, for all its frustrations as a reliable marketing channel, is one of the few that keeps paying off over the long term, like compounding interest. Hopefully we may all be able to emerge from our shelters this summer, but it seems highly likely next winter we could be in a similar situation. Even though the economy has slowed down, people are still buying stuff, just not as much of it. In times of lower demand and limited ad budgets, it’s probably not a bad idea to be ranking at the top of Google for your $ terms. And that takes time.

I am not saying everyone should plow what’s left of their marketing funds into SEO. And rereading this, it does seem like I am a bit too proud of all them Benjamins flapping around back there. I don’t know whether or not SEO is recession proof. But what the great master himself said nearly four years ago is still true today:

And for those of you interested in chatting about doing SEO during a recession, please join BayAreaSearch.org’s free webinar on April 30th. Details at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bayareasearchorgs-april-seo-virtual-meetup-on-zoom-tickets-102230269488

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