One of the most common mistakes with regards to marketing in general is to cut your advertising budget when sales drop. This is based upon a misunderstanding of the purpose of marketing itself, which is to raise awareness of the existence of your business. If sales are dropping for one reason or another and your response is to reduce the amount of people who know your business exists, then you can be assured that the outcome will be even less sales. Because SEO (search engine optimization) is a form of marketing it can be viewed with the same aspects of traditional marketing, and with the same expectations. If you are projecting diminished sales and as a result you reduce the amount of money spent on SEO or PPC, then you can expect to move backward in positions on search engines. This is counter productive, especially during times of upheaval in the business community.
The recent economic outlook and forced closures of businesses bring great uncertainty to many who operate businesses that rely upon “in-person” types of interactions. Online businesses are not suffering as much, but many physical businesses also rely upon a component of online interaction in order to function. For example, a business that performs a service like legal advice or dentistry must recruit new clients using multiple methods. These typical methods might include magazine ads and billboards, in addition to SEO and PPC. During the mandatory lockdown of areas like Las Vegas, there are far fewer people using the roads to drive to work, which ultimately means fewer people driving past billboards. There may be an increase in exposure to other forms of marketing using television or magazines, but the total number of potential eyes that are typically projected from each form of marketing are changing dramatically during these unusual times. With that said, the rankings on search engines for businesses have become more crucial as this method of researching businesses becomes more widely used.
It must be noted that SEO is not an immediate thing. You do not simply write a check to an SEO company and immediately see your results, the way you might with other advertising forms. Instead, the process of SEO builds up trust in your business over time with regards to specific subjects, and ultimately that process is going to take months to accomplish. This means that SEO as a strategy that you should invest into will pay dividends in the future, but cannot be expected to have immediate results. While more immediate results via search engines can be found using PPC, this strategy generally proves to be expensive and must be carefully monitored in connection with your conversion rate so as not to overpay for clicks. You must understand that PPC offers no ongoing customer retention aspects as far as branding because your budget will decide if your ad is shown. SEO has a longer-term ability to position your brand within the field of view of potential customers each time they search, and also when they search for different variations. The real issues that many business owners fence with is how to prove SEO is working, or if it has an acceptable return on investment. This can only be determined through an understanding of SEO that goes beyond the basics.
Here is how you can determine if SEO is right for your business. You must figure out how many potential searches are being done in your area every month for the products or services your sell. This is going to be a total number that combines all the search variations. If you are a dentist, then you will want to combine the search numbers for “dentist in Las Vegas” ad well as “local Las Vegas dentists” as well as every variation you can think of. These statistics are available through Google within the PPC sections, as they want to sell you advertising for these searches in order to push business through paid clicks to your website. Your organic listing will have the same kinds of clickthrough statistics, so you can assume that if there are 1000 searches for one variation and 100 searches for another, then there are 1100 total searches for your business type. Look at how much each click costs through this service, and do some quick math to see how much it would cost to try and buy the total amount of clicks available. On that 1100 total search number if each click would cost an average of one dollar, then it would cost you 1100 total dollars to do an aggressive PPC campaign. Remember that you will not get a customer from each click, and do the estimated math of how many clicks you typically need to get a customer. This is your actual conversion rate, and when compared to your profit margin per customer you can now determine if this form of marketing will make you money or cost you money.
In most cases, there are more monthly clicks than your budget could afford to buy in total. This is where an understanding of SEO comes into play. The clickthrough rates on organic listings is that about 45% of people will click to the first result they are presented. 20% will click the second and 10% will click the third. Each position down the page cuts the percentage in half, so by the time you are past the sixth position on page one you are down below 1% of the total traffic available. So if there are an estimated 1000 searches for a phrase monthly and you have the number one organic position, you can assume that it will produce about 450 clicks to your website. Figure out how much it would cost to pay for 450 clicks, and you have your value of that position. If the SEO efforts can get you positions for multiple variations of a phrase and those positions are gained through paying an SEO company an amount less than the amount you would pay for that same amount of clicks, then SEO is more valuable than PPC. If your total conversion rate shows that you can make a profit while driving traffic using SEO, then SEO is a valid marketing method for your business.
In times of crisis, businesses typically react by cutting their budgets. With regards to SEO, you must understand that you are not paying for a specific position. Instead, you are paying for a company to work towards increasing your organic position. This means that within marketing methods that are based on competition, any time that the competition reduces their efforts must be viewed as a golden opportunity for those that do not. If each of the websites that have been positioned higher than you reduce their efforts, then you will be able to overtake those positions more easily. This is why we view crisis times for business in general as an opportunity for clients that understand how SEO works. The idea is t develop more trust for your business, and the easiest way to do that is to have less competition for that trust. This is the main reason for actually increasing SEO efforts during difficult economic times like these. While it may seem uncomfortable to spend more while business sales are down, you must realize that when the tough times are alleviated and business goes back to normal, only those who pro-actively acted during the previous months will benefit. Because a single position increase can double your traffic to the website once people start searching again, you can see the value in moving your website up.
If you have any questions about SEO during economic downturns and crisis situations, contact us at 702-767-4637.