I’ve been talking with people lately who think that they don’t have the extra money right now to spend on search engine optimization. I don’t understand that thinking, unless it’s just code for, “I don’t have any money”.
As Forrester’s Kim Le Quoc and Jaap Favier succinctly stated in “How to Stimulate Consumer to Buy Online”:
“Creating preference with online buyers starts with search engine optimization (SEO). As search increases in complexity, marketing leaders need to move their teams toward advanced search marketing programs.”
Frank Watson replies:
Regardless of the economic situation, companies need to continue marketing their products. Otherwise, they will stop being a business eventually.
As has been reiterated in most articles, search is more measurable and may be a more successful means of spending limited advertising. As Chris suggests, a long-term play to improve organic listings is one option that can bring back long-term profits.
What many overlook in discussions about our economic downturn is that if people pull back on advertising now, the impact isn’t really seen until later. There’s a need to continue advertising and SEO is a solid way to spend part of that money.
UPDATE: I noticed Rand over at SEOmoz.com also blogging about this trend. He does a great job of hitting the top reasons this may be happening:
- The Web Outperforms Other Sales Channel
When organizations look at the paths leading to sales and income (a critical analysis whenever budgets are under scrutiny), the web almost always comes out with one of two assessments. Either, it’s a leading sales channel (especially from an ROI perspective) or it’s deemed to be an area with the greatest opportunity for growth. In both scenarios, web marketing and, in correlation, SEO, takes center stage.
- It’s the Right Time to Re-Tool
Established companies frequently use down cycles as a chance to focus attention inward and analyze themselves. Consequently, there’s a spike in website redesigns and SEO along with it.
- Paid Search Drives Interest in SEO
Paid search spending is still reaching all-time highs, and when companies evaluate the cost and value, there’s a nagging little voice saying “70%+ of the clicks don’t even happen in the ads; use SEO.”
- SEO is Losing its Stigma
Google is releasing SEO guides, Microsoft and Yahoo! both have in-house SEO departments and the “SEO is BS” crowd have lost a little of their swagger and a lot of their arguments. No surprise – solid evidence trumps wishful thinking, especially when times are tough.
- Marketing Departments are in a Brainstorming Cycle
A high percentage of companies are asking the big questions – “how do we get new customers?” and “what avenues still offer opportunity?” Whenever that happens, SEO is bound to show up near the top of the “to be investigated” pile.
- Search Traffic Will Be Relatively Unscathed by the Market
Sales might drop, conversion rates might falter a bit but raw search traffic isn’t going anywhere. A recession doesn’t mean that people stop searching the web, and with broadband adoption rates, Internet penetration and searches per users consistently rising, search is no fad – it’s here for the long haul.
- Web Budgets are Being Re-Assesed
We’ve all seen the news about display advertising falling considerably – that can only happen when managers meet to discuss how to address budget concerns. Get 10 Internet marketing managers into rooms with their teams and at least 4 or 5 are bound to discuss SEO and how they can grab that “free” traffic.
- Someone Finally Looked at the Web Analytics
It’s sad, but true. When a downturn arrives or panic sets in, someone, maybe the first someone in a long time, checks the web analytics to see where revenue is still coming in. Not surprisingly, search engine referrals with their exceptional targeting and intent-matching are ranking high on the list.
As is usually the case, I think Rand hit the nail on the head. SEO is more important in a down market than at any other time.