Still not sure whether to invest more marketing efforts in SEO during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Want to know why some brands have increased, rather than cut, their SEO budgets amid all this uncertainty?
Let's look at how the unique strengths of search engine marketing (SEM) have helped some discerning businesses stay afloat while others face extinction. As you will see, SEM is not going anywhere; in fact, it will be particularly essential for businesses long after the pandemic is over.
First, let's take a look at what exactly happened to the world of marketing when the Covid-19 pandemic shut down entire countries around the world.
The panic surrounding the novel coronavirus earlier this year caused many companies around the world to reduce their marketing and advertising spending. Given travel restrictions and lockdowns (as well as declining spending in the wake of unprecedented furloughs and layoffs), shutting down or severely limiting marketing functions seemed like the best way to "cut the fat" for many struggling businesses.
In fact, eMarketer predicted a decline from 8.7% to 14.8% in search ad spend during the first half of 2020 (compared to the same period in 2019), while the World Economic Forum reported a 9% decline in ad spend in Europe in June, with the cut going as high as 12% in some regions.
Meanwhile, a survey by Marketing Week and Econsultancy of 447 brands across the UK revealed that just 7% of companies realized the opportunity in the crisis and increased their marketing spend. According to the survey, another 29% of companies planned to maintain their marketing budgets, while 50% wanted to cut back.
Data from an AIB report showed a similar trend, with 70% of ad buyers adjusting or pausing their ad accounts. Interestingly, 16% of respondents were still undecided on what to do.
In a world still grappling with the “new normal” the pandemic has thrown at us, inaction could be just as damaging to your business as budget cuts (if not worse).
Instead of cutting their ad budgets, forward-thinking companies redirected their money to more profitable strategies. And SEO remains at the forefront when it comes to profitable marketing strategies.
According to a report by marketing analytics firm Conductor, more than 50% of marketers believe SEO is even more important during COVID-19. Another 63% believe that the role of SEO will increase during this time (compared to 5% who believe that it will decrease).
There is no denying that the pandemic has financially affected businesses around the world. But your business doesn't have to go offline. While budgets can be tight, you don't need to spend a lot of money on paid advertising. Many companies have managed to maintain high visibility without great expenses thanks to the low cost and high effectiveness of SEO.
The best part? Unlike paid advertising (ads stop running as soon as you extract your money), once you have a solid SEM strategy in place, SEO will continue to drive traffic to your business without you having to lift a finger.
Shopping online is convenient. It saves consumers time (and often money), not to mention almost unlimited choice (and therefore competition). It has been the preferred way of shopping for many since it gained popularity.
But during the pandemic, as we face a quarantine and limited business reopening, even consumers who previously preferred in-person shopping have turned to shopping online. This has created a trend that has seen businesses with an online presence reap the most rewards. And what is more? Customers are making more purchases online, even with the easing of restrictions.
A survey by PYMTS found that 7% more retail shoppers are buying their products online as brick-and-mortar stores have begun to reopen, compared to mid-April when most brick-and-mortar stores were closed . And according to another study by McKinsey, consumers are expected to buy online at higher rates even as blockages continue to rise.
If consumers simply “liked” online shopping before the pandemic, they love it now. Or, more realistically, they have realized that they depend on it now more than ever.
Either way, the winning business is the one that can be found online. And the best way to get seen online, especially before your competitors, is with content optimized for SEM and SEO.
With restricted movement, we've seen consumers make more purchases as close to home as possible. An increase in local searches with an emphasis on 'near me' queries is evidence of this, as is research by Deloitte showing that 59% more UK consumers have patronized local businesses since it came into force. the blockade.
Interestingly, it's not just travel restrictions that have made consumers choose to shop local: customers say their buying trends have been motivated by a desire to support local retailers and service providers during the crisis
As local search has become a crucial link between businesses and customers, location-specific SEO has been a lifeline for those who were able to sustain their SEM efforts during the pandemic lockdown.
To help businesses make the most of the increase in local search volume, Google optimized Google Maps and Google My Business to help meet consumer demands. Attributes like "Dine-in", "Takeaway" and "Delivery" are now available in search results.
SEO is not a quick fix, it is a long-term strategy. Brands that have been consistent in their efforts are reaping the benefits of their hard work more and more each day. However, those who curtailed or halted their marketing efforts when the pandemic hit may not be as successful as those who stayed the course.
That being said, companies that have only recently recognized SEO benefits and started adopting and implementing SEO strategies may not be as far behind as they think. The long-term benefits of smart decisions made today, along with increasing growth opportunities during COVID-19, will sow the seeds for marketing and advertising success for many years to come.
With over a decade helping enterprise-level companies successfully reach and grow their audience online, I can tell you some facts about SEO:
A. It's about driving conversions, not about ranking higher just for the sake of it.
B. It is a data-focused discipline where everything can and should be measured. Very little SEO has to do with the "gut" instinct.
C. It is like a tree: it takes time and care. But once it grows, it will bear fruit for a long time.
You know, just 10 years ago, the companies that now dominate organic search traffic today may also have thought they were falling behind the competition. The last thing you want is to feel that way 10 years from now, too.