The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to make some tough decisions with regard to cost-cutting – especially in the travel industry, which has obviously been hit especially hard. Marketing budgets are often the first thing travel companies look to slash, because let’s face it: with most consumers unable (or unwilling) to travel, it doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to spend funds enticing people to do so. Right?
While this might seem like a reasonable line of thinking, I believe that reducing your marketing budget during the pandemic could actually cause your business more harm than good. Just because people aren’t traveling as much right now doesn’t mean they aren’t excited to do so in the future. (Who isn’t dreaming of a vacation at this point?) And while SEO has always been a crucial component of a successful marketing strategy, you could argue that its importance has actually increased as a result of the pandemic. Think about it: how much time have you spent on your computer in the last few months? I know I’m logging more hours now than I did before the pandemic started, and those increased hours include additional search engine usage. I’m not the only one searching more, either. “Google traffic is at an all-time high and people are looking online more than ever,” confirms Tim Stoddart, CEO of Stodzy Internet Marketing.
Playing the Long Game during Covid 19
SEO is also a long-term strategy; you have even more of a reason for investing in it right now, so that you can reap the rewards later (and potentially gain an advantage over other businesses that have scaled down on their efforts). “SEO is not an immediate gratification channel”, notes Jared Alster, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Wildebeest. “Any strategy or tactics, whether on-page [like] technical SEO or via off-page outreach, take weeks or months to show results.”
Jessica Rose, CEO at Copper H20, concurs. “Those who pursue investments in SEO should appreciate that the return on investment is not immediate, and that it may take several months before their rankings improve in search engines,” she says. “Accordingly, the pandemic is not a bad time to invest in such measures, given that their full effect may be felt in several months, just as the pandemic situation becomes more normal and consumers return to their previous levels of consumption.”
Big SEO Investments Can Bring Big SEO ewards
Some industry professionals – like Kevin Miller, Founder and CEO of The Word Counter – are actually increasing their spend during the COVID-19 pandemic. “My typical monthly content budget is $2,000 per month and I am doubling it to $4,000 per month during this time,” he says. “I am increasing content spend because many others are slowing down… more content means we have more to promote on social media. This will also help to grow our business and then we will be able to increase our budget for different strategies.” Obviously, spending more money might not be an option for everyone right now, and that’s okay. But it does speak to the long-term benefits you can gain from an upfront investment in optimized content.
More content is beneficial from a ranking perspective as well. “Search engines notice when sites publish consistently and can see how long people stay, so building a strong reputation as a site that informs and educates pays off in higher organic search results too,” says Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls. Better search results keep your business relevant and at the top of consumers’ minds – something that will ultimately pay off when they’re ready to make a purchase.
Adapting to Change
Bear in mind that the industry is continuing to evolve, even if it feels as though our current situation has slowed everything down. “SEO best practices are constantly changing. This means there is always something new to learn. For marketing teams with more flexibility than normal during the current times, now is the time to try new SEO techniques and experiment,” suggests Sunny Ashley, Founder and CEO of Autoshopinvoice. Dan Bailey, President of WikiLawn, believes that being proactive with your SEO strategy isn’t just a smart move – it’s a necessary one. “If you aren’t tracking, iterating, and implementing new strategies, you’re going to be stuck in a rut months from now when other businesses are gaining more traction than you.”
I’m fairly optimistic that when this crisis eventually passes, we’ll experience a rebound within the travel industry. However, while I certainly hope we don’t see another pandemic-type situation any time in the near future, it would be short-sighted not to prepare for that possibility. That’s why it’s important to be proactive and build a strong SEO foundation for your business now. “If companies don’t lay the groundwork… they will always lose to the competitors that have [done so],” says Ryan Skidmore, Digital Marketing Director at Big Leap.
Set the Stage for a Strong SEO Recovery
If, like many other companies, you’re feeling the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be tempted to scale back on your SEO budget. But the truth is, SEO is arguably more important now than ever before. By adopting a long-term strategy and sowing the seeds for growth, you’ll place your company in the best possible position to rebound when things start to return to some semblance of normalcy – and you’ll be more prepared to deal with potential crisis situations that may arise in the future.