If the headlines threatening a global economic meltdown are causing you to rethink your search marketing strategy, you’ll probably have considered taking your paid search campaigns back in house, shelving your PPC campaigns entirely or turning your hand to organic optimization in a bid to reduce marketing costs.
However you’re cutting costs, organic search shouldn’t be the area in which you skimp. Organic traffic is often more qualified, more interested and less expensive than traffic accrued in any other way, making it a safe bet when times are lean. Unfortunately, a good SEO campaign can also cost serious bucks so it’s important to spend dollars wisely when all the indicators point to a nationwide financial slump.
There are several ways to make an SEO campaign a good investment during an economic downturn. One option is to focus on a single core area, giving you a performance focused optimization strategy based on tried and tested market share. Good SEO during a bad economy should never be a dressed up attempt to crack a new market – if the bottom line is being closely scrutinized, it’s not the time for experiments. Instead, efforts should be built around increasing the online presence of one best selling product or service with its own proven track record.
All search engine optimization activity needs clearly defined objectives and if the main thrust is to increase inbound leads or actual sales figures, targeting an individual business area makes the end result much more attainable. The example I often give here is to think of a house in need of decoration. Problem is you only have one can of paint. Do you choose to spread the can thinly around the whole house and do a mediocre job in every room or do you focus on just one room and do a proper job? When cash is short this mindset can be successfully applied to SEO. Choosing a product that has performed well previously also means you have historic data to base marketing decisions on. There’s also the confidence borne of a previous warm reception that ensures the new optimisation campaign is not wasted as an R and D exercise.
It goes without saying that a carefully constructed plan of attack is an intrinsic part of successful search marketing activity. Remembering this basic missive will provide structure and symmetry, especially if money worries have resulted in an in-house campaign. Like going into battle, each detail must be meticulously planned. Roles must be assigned and understood if a pared down campaign is to be successful. Just because you’re operating on a budget and targeting wary consumers is not an excuse for poor performance. Turning good into great means spending extra time on the details; you can’t just write off missed opportunities and forgotten deadlines in a fiercely competitive, recession-fearing market. To minimise this risk, gather a small, well drilled team who can each carry out a specific task. Giving others responsibilities maximises effectiveness as each person can play to their own strengths. Doubling the workforce also means twice as many hours can go into optimisation
At this stage of recession time SEO, you can tick off the usual starting points such as deciding on keywords, assessing the site for content changes and identifying link partners. Most importantly if your campaign is to bear fruit, decide on and implement reporting structures. Good SEO is accountable and measurable. If you can’t envisage using the data your reporting systems provide to write a performance testimony at monthly intervals, your SEO is not sufficient to survive economic turmoil. In order to justify SEO spend when times are hard, the number of sales, revenue generated, value of web presence secured and brand penetration of the campaign must all be available as real time metrics. If you can go into a meeting and say this piece of content resulted in 10 new customers, or traffic from this inbound link led to 15 referrals, you can be confident your optimisation activity is overcoming economic hurdles and adding value to your bottom line. If your reporting doesn’t give you this luxury, it will be difficult to justify ongoing spend on search marketing.
Use Social Media
Social networks provide an incredibly useful word of mouth buzz at a fraction of the cost of expensive pay per click and banner campaigns if done correctly. If you’ve only so far used sites like Squidoo and Blogger to build links, shame on you. These social media sites are a hot bed of peer to peer recommendation and consumer review. Now more than ever, a good social media campaign can build brand loyalty, secure new business and propel more relevant traffic than ever before. The key to incorporating social media in organic search marketing activity is to recognise it for what it is; not a place to preach ad messages but an interactive arena and space for conversation. Embrace this grassroots environment, provide content that respects and adds value to the conversation and your SEO will shine despite the gloom of financial forecasts.