Impacts of COVID-19 on organic searches
We are in a time of the coronavirus, and it is normal for consumption of most companies to fall during this period. It is an unprecedented global event, with no deadline yet. The most searched terms in the organic results this week were “hand sanitizer” and “surgical gloves.”
Sales have decreased, and I will need to cut marketing costs, now what?
It is inevitable to revise costs in times of crisis like that of the coronavirus, which we are going through. However, taking into account only the SEO acquisition channel, there are some considerations make first:
• Organic channel is a long-term effort. So, how is the track record of acquiring new sessions and revenue for the past few months?
• Will the service be stopped 100% in the coming months as long as the market continues with low consumption? How are the competitors behaving in the face of this scenario?
• Did the sessions and revenue from organic traffic decrease to the point that it is not worthwhile to continue investing in SEO?
These are some questions to be answered, mainly because we are talking about a medium/long-term acquisition channel, where the behavior is completely different from the other performance channels. In these cases, stop putting money in will decrease sales and when everything is over, all you have to do is “turn on the tap” again and the money will return in the same instant.
As for SEO, the question involves not only the revenue itself, but all the work built. The outcome occurring today is probably the result of work carried out about 2 to 3 months ago. So, if the service is completely interrupted, this work will have to practically restart when the company decides to resume activities.
Probably, when the activities return, the work will have to be redone. Organic traffic will also decrease dramatically, and competitors can remain steadfast in their SEO work even during this time. For an SEO project, there are fronts in technical development ‒ such as IT ‒ that can help all acquisition channels instead of just one.
There is also the social appeal of SEO work. Unlike the other performance channels, in which, regardless of the amount of money invested, the process is fully automated ‒ with almost no interference by people in the operation ‒, the main premise of the SEO project is that we cannot have anything automated in the operation, which is entirely in charge of a team with at least four or five professionals per project.
This means that reducing and extinguishing costs in an SEO project also affects the participation of all those responsible for the project and their professional careers.
The SEO Mechanic website listed some examples of sites where the SEO project stopped and the time taken for the decline in organic traffic for each of them.
The above example is an SEO project over the course of 16 months and shows the decline compared to Google searches through the Search Console tool. The graph represents the impressions of a particular site in the organic searches.
Some reasons that lead to the decline in organic searches:
• Interruption of SEO improvements:: The website is constantly updated according to good practices or the experience of the hired SEO agency or professional. Since this work is automatically interrupted, these improvements do not continue, making this reduction possible.
• Competitors continue the work:: Regardless of whether the SEO project is interrupted or not, competitors will continue to do the job and the chances of reducing visibility in organic search results will increase considerably.
• Algorithm change:: In the year 2019 alone, there were more than 1,000 changes to Google’s search algorithm. An SEO professional or agency is responsible for monitoring these changes and applying them in the best possible way on the website in question. Thus, the chances of a website to be negatively impacted in the organic search results are lower.
• New opportunities:: Part of the job is also seeking new keywords with search opportunities. Once this work is interrupted, there is practically no evolution of these opportunities.
Of course, the above scenario does not apply to 100% of the sites. However, our experience also corroborates the examples cited on the SEO Mechanic website.
We know that it is very difficult to make cost-cutting decisions at times like the one we are going through. Nevertheless, taking a hard look at Google Analytics and cutting costs based on ROI are not the best solution if you look at the big picture.
Gear SEO’s goal, especially for this period, is to minimize the loss of revenue as much as possible (it is inevitable, and we cannot think of profit now), keep all activities minimally functional (Strategy, On-Page, Content Production and Link Building) and prepare everyone so that, when that dark period passes ‒ it will pass! ‒, the SEO project will continue and grow again with full force.
In view of all this, our suggestion is to look at the whole forest instead of focusing only on the source of the fire and mainly think about leaving even more strengthened when this pandemic is over.