With all the uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought into the world of business, it is no wonder that companies are revisiting their marketing strategies.
Considering that the world of marketing — and the world itself — is in constant flux, deciding the best way forward for yourself, your employees, and your business can be challenging.
Companies have been chasing the next big thing in online marketing for years. And every year, without fail, we see posts and articles asking, “Is SEO still worth it?”
Even before the pandemic was in full swing, an article in Forbes detailed that SEO is still an essential part of any business’s online marketing strategy and is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
The truth is that SEO is still one of the best ways for businesses (especially those with a local focus) to bring customers straight to their door. It is a powerful driver of organic search results, which accounts for most website traffic and leads.
And, seeing as only about a third of business owners invest in a solid SEO strategy, you will stand out from your competitors when your potential customers are searching online.
In this post, we’re going to look at the following:
- Why SEO matters during the coronavirus pandemic (especially for smaller businesses)
- Why you should invest in SEO now to reap the benefits post-COVID-19 and emerge strong
First of all, what is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)?
You’re probably familiar with SEO, but what does it mean?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a strategy that has been a mainstay of digital marketing since the late 1990s. Over twenty years later, it remains one of the most effective ways for businesses to maintain a digital presence.
SEO is exactly what it says on the tin; it is ensuring that your website is optimized to appear as high as possible in the search results to get in front of your target customer. No one reads past the first page of Google anymore. Therefore, it’s crucial that you actively engage in SEO to get your business ranking in the top 10 positions for keywords that your ideal customer is searching to find you.
Because of the sheer size of the online market — especially now, with so many businesses pivoting and making a mass exodus to e-commerce — SEO is essential to your marketing strategy. You must take SEO seriously to rise above your competitors and be seen amongst all the noise.
Just having a website is not good enough in today’s digital landscape. It’s all about getting that website in front of the right audience that wants to engage in your services.
If done correctly, a website that generates leads day after day, month after month, is one of the most valuable assets a business can have.
Check out some of our clients who invested in SEO and are now enjoying regularly consistent leads despite COVID-19:
Why is SEO so crucial during COVID-19?
While J. Paul Getty’s quote may seem to refer to stocks or real estate, it illustrates a fundamental principle that is the secret to investing successfully and getting ahead of the pack:
Invest in SEO while your competitors are not.
Experts argue that SEO is more important than ever. As some services may be delayed or put on hold due to lockdown/restrictions, now is a perfect time (if you haven’t started already) to swoop in and take competitive keywords while the competition is dropping out.
You see, COVID-19 has shut down many businesses but has opened up a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for forward-thinking business owners.
Keywords that were once a long shot, dominated by heavy competition who’ve been doing SEO for years, are now easy pickings for those playing the long game.
After all, the SEO cost is considerably less compared to a staff salary or office rent. Neither of those things is a prerequisite for engaging in SEO: all you need is a website.
Some businesses may benefit more from SEO right now than others—health-related services, trades business, eCommerce, for instance, and other essentials—but investing in an SEO strategy now will mean that once we emerge on the other side of the pandemic, your business will already have a head start through the gates ahead of your competitors.
During a recession or economic downturn, SEO is the best online marketing strategy compared to Google Ads or Facebook Ads. Marketing costs will soon fly through the roof as more and more businesses start marketing for leads/sales. SEO, on the other hand, is free. Once you rank on the first page, you’re not charged for every visitor visiting your website.
And, if the past is any indicator, consumers will be ready and far more willing to spend in the aftermath of a recession. So you’re investing in SEO services in Sydney now, which means you could sit on the first page as the market starts picking up.
A report published by The Manifest in April of this year looking at the data on the latest SEO strategy trends stated that SEO is one of the best practices businesses can invest in during the pandemic:
Most people ignore Google-sponsored ads — you need to rank organically
Over half of all website traffic comes from organic search results; it’s been noted that up to 80% of people will automatically ignore Google-sponsored ads. Many customers, especially the ever-growing millennial consumer group, distrust paid advertisements.
But if a page has managed to reach the top of the search results without buying the spot? You’re getting one out of every three clicks, with the top three results accounting for approximately 70% of traffic.
Users trust organic rankings more than paid; they see it as a sign of quality, as Google is a source they rely on. 81% of shoppers will search before buying a product or deciding on a service, and 49% of users say they use Google to discover or find a new item or product.
Appealing directly to a customer who is invested in what you’re selling means that the quality of the leads and traffic you get with SEO is far higher; having your page front and center when a customer is considering purchasing may garner that sale.
Organic traffic is related to user intent, which is the heart of the Google algorithm. By investing in SEO, you will be able to increase the amount of organic traffic directed to your page, which in turn directs even more traffic! You have to get that ball rolling.
Compared to other expenses, SEO is your lowest cost for the highest return
One of the main appeals of SEO for smaller businesses — especially now — is the ROI you can get for relatively cheap. SEO gets you 15 times more clicks than PPC advertising, and 70% of people surveyed by Databox reported that SEO was better than PPC in generating sales for their business.
Paying for ads can be an expenditure that is not worth it, as any gains disappear the moment you stop paying; SEO, however, is cumulative. Even if you don’t see results right away, you are setting yourself up for the future.
As mentioned, the cost of ads can increase as more and more businesses try to get online, meaning you might have to sink a lot more money into ads than you get in return.
SEO, on the other hand, is not subject to inflation. Even as we see searches increase with more and more e-commerce, you will only have to invest the same predictable amount, allowing you to grasp your marketing budget better.
With COVID-19, businesses may be experiencing budgetary constraints. SEO is a relatively cheap method of digital marketing that gets long-term rewards, bringing in more clients and more money (especially when things start to return to normal — you will be in the perfect position to reap the rewards).
We keep saying long-term, and it is essential to realize that SEO is not an instant miracle to improve leads and online traffic. It takes time, patience, and skill. SEO is all about gaining the search engine’s trust by creating good content and making a user (and Google) friendly website.
46% of ALL Google searches feature a local intent
Results For A Landscaping Company
? From 0 leads pm to 300+ leads pm
? 200x Growth
Results For A Mechanic
? 50% Increase In Business
Wouldn’t results like this be great for your business? Get in touch and see how we can help!
This is an area where SEO shines. Local SEO is one of the best opportunities for locally-focused businesses during and after COVID-19.
Yes, paid ads can be targeted to customers in specific locations, but this doesn’t always work. For one, the user is less likely to trust an ad they know is paying to be in front of them. (While we all know that we’re constantly being watched, we hate being reminded of it).
And two, as we’ve already established, why pay more to target your clients less effectively when you could be utilizing Google’s algorithm to work for you?
Google is smart — more intelligent than all of us, probably. It knows that you want to see the results that are the most relevant for you, so it tailors the results that it shows you to your geographic location. Optimizing your website content for specific areas where you know that your potential customers are clustered and more likely to come from will rank highly in the local search results for your specific niche.
This is a powerful tool that local businesses of any size can utilize to their advantage. It was found that 72% of customers who did a local search visited the store; while this may not be possible during COVID-19, it still indicates the likelihood of conversion.
Especially considering the current push to support local businesses in one’s immediate vicinity (and the more realistic travel restraints that prevent us from patronizing other, further companies), SEO is essential during the pandemic.
And buying local is a sentiment that existed before the pandemic and is likely to remain long after the last COVID-19 case is diagnosed, so take advantage!
It’s what the big businesses are doing.
When in doubt, you should look at the giants in the field to see what kinds of business practices are letting them succeed. And interestingly, what has been working for some of Australia’s biggest brands is investing in SEO during COVID-19.
Just look at Bunnings, Australia’s most trusted brand as of May 2020. Coincidently, it was also around this time that the company started to amp up its SEO efforts.
As we’ve said before, organic rankings build trust. Particularly in today’s climate, where a lot of misinformation and fear is flying around, it is important that we can trust the brands that we buy from.
This is a major factor in whether a client will buy from your business; according to a survey conducted by Edelman, brand trust is one of the most important considerations for a person when considering a purchase.
Instead of simply coasting on its reputation, Bunnings is actively increasing its organic search rankings to reach its customers online. This helps them to stand out in the eCommerce market, where they are not as dominant, and keep their image as a trustworthy source of DIY, garden, and home products.
While they could certainly afford to pay for the top spot and advertise to prospective clients, Bunning’s marketing team understands the value of well-implemented SEO and the priceless benefits it can bring to a brand.
Another staple of the Australian market, Kmart, has been working on its own SEO tactics, particularly starting in July. This was when the second wave of COVID-19 really started to take hold of the eastern states, again driving consumers online.
Rather than relying on its reputation to carry over from its brick-and-mortar stores to online purchases, Kmart took a proactive approach and doubled down on its SEO, meaning that it would be easier for customers to find them amongst all the other eCommerce options.
Many of the products sold by both of these brands can be found elsewhere online, as they are just a carrier. Much of their appeal is in the brick-and-mortar store, but without that?
These two brands made the smart move to capitalize on their reputation and trust, ensuring that they would be among the top results for the products their clients are searching for through the smart use of SEO. This has enabled them to not only survive but thrive during COVID-19 and beyond, as the eCommerce market will only get bigger and bigger.
“Okay, so I need SEO. What’s the next step?”
The best time to get started with SEO was months ago. The next best time is today.
If you want to come out on the other side of COVID-19, ready to tackle the future head-on, we can help. Check out our free SEO audit and see what you can be doing differently.