As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and the associated recommendations to avoid leaving the home, there are a myriad of products and services that are on a temporary pause. As a result, it would not be prudent to continue paying to market these items.
Inevitably, budgets will be shifted around as the COVID19 response continues or when the dust settles, but in the meantime instead of parking allocated paid marketing spend, this would be a great time to repurpose them for SEO efforts.
In a normal marketing world, landing a significant investment for purely SEO projects is challenging because the returns are both ambiguous and are long in the future. Therefore, when pitted against flashier or quicker returning investments, SEO ends up playing second fiddle. Paid marketing campaigns will get the bulk of marketing spend while SEO picks up what is left. In some instances, SEO might even see their budget diminished during a fiscal year if paid budgets are exhausted too early and there are still marginal returns to be had.
However, this is not a normal time and there is an opportunity for marketers to make lemonade out of Coronavirus lemons. Now is the time for anyone responsible for any organic efforts and to offer solutions that will pay dividends long into the future.
When the Coronavirus pandemic and associated economic volatility are all over, there will be fascinating research projects about the true effect of SEO vs all other marketing channels. There are so many questions that would be impossible to ever test without a fear of taking a massive hit to revenue. The massive hit to revenue has unfortunately happened as a result of external forces, so this is the time to test!
To illustrate the experiments that could be run and projects that can be undertaken, use a travel business as an example. Given the global voluntary and involuntary lockdowns, travel has mostly ground to a halt. While there are people that are optimistically searching for trips that might happen later in the year, travel interest has fallen off a cliff.
- Right now, it may not even be a wise investment for a company to bid on its brand name because they will be just generating clicks that will never convert into a sale. With the need to defend the brand no longer a requirement, this is a fantastic time to determine whether those brand ads even matter. Try changing ad copy and measuring it against the organic clicks. You can be completely flexible about what you try and calculate whether there is a tradeoff between organic and paid listings.
- On a similar front, if conversions are unlikely during this time, it would be a great opportunity to determine how much a title tag or meta description/snippet matter in generating a click. Clicks might fall away with certain changes, but the fear of impacting conversions should be less of a concern. This is a great time to try adding and removing keywords to see what the overall impact of such changes might be.
- In addition to search ads, all of these tests can be run against social and display advertising. Many people are likely familiar with a “lift” test where non-profit ad copy is inserted in a display ad slot and then the conversion rates of the non-profit cohort are measured vs the cohort that saw the standard ad copy. With lower conversion rates already, use pre-booked display ads with non-profit messaging to measure against organic traffic.
- Add a lot more content. Repurpose paid marketing budgets into freelance copywriters who can help tick off all the wishlist content items. Everyone always has a backlog of content they want to write, now is the time to write it.
- Many times there will be technical SEO issues that should be addressed, but tasks with greater priority are completed. Now is a great time for a marketing team to audit a site for any low hanging SEO fruit and start making fixes.
This pandemic will have far reaching impacts on nearly every person and business in the entire world, but it is far from the end of the world. Now is a great time to be flexible and seize opportunities for learning and career growth that might never happen again.