Why Stopping SEO During COVID-19 Is A Bad Idea

COVID-19 has impacted the world in a way we haven’t seen before, and naturally, businesses have become cautious of the financials, and the impact a potential lack of customers could have. As a marketer, I know that one of the first things a business looks to save money on is marketing (especially SEO, Social Media, and PPC).

I’m here to tell you why that is a terrible idea. 

A Little About My Background

A little about my background as it will help you understand why I already know this a terrible idea for your business.

I’ve been working in SEO now, for over 10 years, and have worked through the tail end of the recession where businesses were pulling back on marketing, and I’ve seen and worked with the consequences of pausing SEO. That coupled with experience in getting the best out of campaigns, I’ve learnt a lot, and one of those things is that in marketing, businesses who scale back campaigns to save money can suffer more in the longterm.

Defining Your Audience To Understand Search Trends

Every digital marketing campaign regardless of channel revolves around funnels. Funnels are what allow you to understand your target market and the conversion journey they take. A general conversion funnel would look something like this:

Awareness -> Educate -> Convert

This is a very top-level example, and it varies per industry/product/service, but that gives you a general idea.

What we’re seeing a lot more of currently is the search audience sticking around the awareness/educate funnel steps, and this is because the search audience still exists, but uncertainty is preventing them from converting.

The route is to be creating engaging awareness and educational content pieces to engage that audience in the funnel, get them hooked in and ready to convert when they feel they can. Engage the people that are searching, always remembering that whatever your business, whether a service, product or both, you’re selling a solution. Every search starts with a question, and you need to be answering them.

The Impact Of Scaling Back

The conversion aspect of the funnel is the very last step a potential customer has to take, and any good marketing campaign will be addressing all the required steps. So what happens when you stop your marketing, whether it’s SEO, Social Media or PPC? You lose the entire funnel. 

Looking at our company, Embryo Digital, the conversion time is anything from 0 days to 90 days and over from the very first visit to the website. That is the funnel at work, it’s engaging a visitor initially, educating them on what marketing could work well for their business, and then them converting through the contact form.

Again, a very top level analysis but hopefully it’s helping you understand why you shouldn’t stop marketing for what will be a temporary issue.

SEO Has Consistency At Its Heart

Consistency is key in SEO, and this means it needs to be an ongoing effort to make sure you’re getting the best return from it. Every month you’re not doing it, is another month where your competitors are, and they’re taking your traffic, educating your audience, and in turn, will gain those conversions. Most crucially, the people beginning the funnel journey now might not convert until after everything returns to normal and this could either be natural or because of the crisis. But you can be sure that they’re going to convert with the business that educated on them on the needs and solutions of any service.

Google Doesn’t Stop Its Algorithm Updates

Google is continuing to update it’s algorithms daily, and the occasional bigger update as usual. From that perspective, it’s business as usual. Your SEO team monitor this for you, adjusting the campaign strategy as needed dependant on the updates that are happening. If you’re not having SEO, you’re not as protected as you could be from these updates, which could hinder your organic visibility regardless of how well you rank currently. Google will continue to reward the websites will a consistent strategy of sending the right signals for rankings. If you don’t send these signals, your competitors that are gain the advantage.

No fresh content, no changes based on audience trends, no onsite SEO updates, no technical SEO, no link building, no citation management, no updates in line with algorithm updates, and lots of other things you visibility is relying on just stops.

Here are just a few of the things your SEO Manager is keeping an eye on:

  • Onsite SEO/Technical SEO and the changes needed to reflect algorithm updates – Will you be able to act quickly and efficiently to improve your onsite/technical SEO in line with the latest algorithm updates.
  • Competitor strategies & visibility – Will you be able to track and analyse your competitor activity?
  • Your rankings – Will you be aware of changes in your visibility before it affects your conversions?
  • Your traffic levels, conversions and conversion rate – If something changes drastically, will you know why?
  • Duplicate content – Will you be monitoring the web for people stealing your content? Or will you notice if the content is duplicated internally on your website?
  • Website Errors – Will you be able to track website errors and resolve them to stop them impacting your organic visibility and conversions?
  • Backlink profile – Will you know if harmful links start appearing that point to your website? Will you know how to act on them to prevent them from harming your rankings?

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are over 200 different ranking factors, all feeding back to search engines to help them decide where you rank.

SEO Is A Long Game, Changes Now Don’t Impact Right Away

The thing with SEO is that the changes you make now can take some time to reflect. So for example, if I’m working on gaining backlinks to a client website today, and get a link placement, this might not reflect in the results for a month, two, three – it’s different all the time.

This is the main reason stopping SEO is a terrible idea for your business. You can stop SEO now, and it won’t impact for a little while, but it will impact in the coming months. If the impact of COVID-19 eases off in the next 4-8 weeks, and you’ve stopped SEO now, you’ve got a huge risk of losing that springboard back into business as things return to normal. Your visibility could be down, your competitors could have edged forward, and it could take longer than the period you stopped for to get rankings back to wherever they were. Can your business afford a downturn in leads/conversions for the foreseeable whilst your SEO recovers after a break? Stopping now is a short term gain, but could lead to longterm problems.

For some businesses, pausing marketing will be the only option, and if you need advice, you can find me on LinkedIn by clicking here. No sales pitches, no ulterior motive, if I can help, I absolutely will.

This post wasn’t designed to scare or worry you any further, but simply to share the realities of cutting marketing budgets when realistically, your business will need them now more than ever. More people than ever are at home and they’re searching, they’re using social media more. Use this as an opportunity to engage with them, build brand trust, and the conversions will naturally follow. All you need to do is adapt.

As the late, great, Henry Ford once said: “Stopping advertising to save money is like stopping your watch to save time.” 

Finally, from everyone at Embryo Digital, we hope you’re staying safe, staying inside, and we can’t wait to get back around the table with clients once this is all over! Until then, we’re here remotely and making sure our clients are on the right track, putting budgets in the right places, and making the most of the current circumstances.





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