The post-pandemic world is a very bizarre place. Inflation is a problem. Banks are collapsing. And we’re still having supply chain issues. But, technically, we’re not in a recession. That said, many economists are assuring us that one is coming.
While the economic climate is less than ideal right now, things are still not yet recession level. Many businesses have been enjoying a resurgence post-pandemic. Marketing efforts can tend to slack in good times. “Why do we need to invest in marketing, we’re making tons of money.”
This attitude is short-sighted and can get you in trouble in a – gulp – recession. So, if the economists are right and a recession is near, hat’s your plan?
SEO Is A Long Game
We remind clients that you can’t turn a few dials and improve your SEO overnight. SEO is an ongoing effort that builds traffic over time. It takes a consistent methodology.
Our minimum SEO engagement is six months. This isn’t because we want to hold you hostage for six months (the bulk of our clients stick with us for longer). No, we do this because we know this is how long it can take to move the needle.
Did you sleep on your SEO post-pandemic and now feel behind the eightball? Don’t beat yourself up too much, it’s very common, it happens to lots of companies.
We know you’re hustling to fill the hole left by COVID, but you also need to focus on the SEO long game. Hustling provides business leads now; an ongoing SEO investment ensures a future upward trend for your business.
What Is SEO, Really?
What do I mean by SEO or Search Engine Optimization? SEO is…
- Website optimization for speed and usability regularly
- Building a content library for your target audience and/or your buyers
- Optimizing that content and your website code for maximum visibility
- Tracking search trends and Google algorithm updates to avoid a hit or adjust if one happens
- Building quality inbound links to your website and other sources of search engine visibility
- Cleaning up bad inbound links and negative SEO
- Monitoring all the dashboards and making adjustments as needed
The list could go on but, as you can see, SEO is much more than just content or UX. I used to argue that SEO was merely great content and a quality user experience (UX). However, even before I came to Wellspring Digital, I started to see the holes in this theory. What changed my mind?
I could see websites with amazing content and, what I thought to be, stellar UX lose serious rankings, traffic, and ultimately, leads. Why? No one was doing the other stuff on that list above. And that stuff is important!
You’re Already Behind on Your SEO
Sorry for being an alarmist, but it’s true. If you’ve been sleeping on SEO because you thought you didn’t need it, you’re likely paying the price now.
There is good news though. It comes at the expense of some, and I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but this is business…
The pandemic has likely affected some of your competitors. If you are fortunate enough to still be in business, employing a crew of people, then you are positioned to take advantage of this mess.
Again, I hate to sound opportunistic in times of trouble but see the meme above. Now is a great time to invest in some real SEO.
I was discussing this with Joe Pulizzi on our Wellspring Digital Chat, and he had a great analogy. Specifically, we talked about content, which is part of SEO, but the analogy still works.
Look at investors, I mean the big money guys. When do they get excited? In a recession. Why? Because it’s the perfect time to buy. Buy low, sell high, right?
So, your Warren Buffets of the world are taking advantage of this time to invest at low prices. I’m not talking about the standard eTrade stuff, I’m talking about investing on a larger scale for a bigger return.
Investing is what you need to be doing right now with your SEO, investing time and money. The return on investment should be big if you do it right.
SEO Investments to Explore
Your marketplace is likely quite different than it was both before and during the pandemic. Now, even if your competition didn’t fall by the wayside, it’s entirely possible that their rankings fell or shifted in some way. And perhaps yours did as well.
Now is the time to start that climb back up the rankings. If you don’t, someone else will.
Don’t Trust the Dashboards
Now is the time to fire up those dashboards and take a deep dive to see what’s going on. We use a slew of them: Semrush, AHRefs, Cora, Raven Tools, Google Webmaster (Analytics, Speed Test, Mobile Test, Keyword Data, etc., …
Karl Hindle, SEO Expert, CEO, and Bouncer for Wellspring Digital has a saying… “Rule number one, don’t trust the dashboards!”
So, why am I telling you to fire them up? Because what he’s saying here is more nuanced. One dashboard will tell you one thing while another may give you different information.
Maybe trust but verify is better. If you only use Moz, for example, you will likely be missing the complete picture. Take the data Moz gives you and compare it against the data the other dashboards provide.
And what do you get? A complete picture of…
- Keywords you should and should not target
- Content opportunities
- What your competition is up to
- If there is anything out there hurting your rankings
- Do you have toxic backlinks?
- Any potential penalties
- Whether your website is up to Google’s standards with things like Core Web Vitals
- The real traffic to your site and what it’s doing (a much more complete picture than Google Analytics)
Once you have a realistic assessment of where you are and where your competitors are, you can start to develop a strategic plan. Building an SEO plan without understanding the data is like investing in a company without looking at its balance sheet.
Investing in the Now and the Future with Strategic SEO
The great news right now is that you can use your marketing budget to cover immediate needs as well as long-term needs. Remember when I said that content is a part of SEO? Well, content is also part of sales, brand building, and other efforts.
Using the data you’ve acquired from the dashboards, you can develop a targeted editorial calendar, targeted in that you’re writing content that will hit your target audience now and help build the foundation for ongoing SEO efforts.
Great content like blog posts, eBooks, videos, and podcasts provide two clear benefits…
- This content provides media support for efforts like sales, customer service, brand building, and audience outreach.
- Great content built with solid SEO data creates an evergreen foundation for SEO efforts moving forward.
It’s next to impossible to see any significant gains in SEO without creating consistent, quality content. It can be done, but it’s a tough battle, and I don’t recommend it.
Here’s the thing, it’s no longer a foregone conclusion that good content will consistently rank and improve your website traffic. You need real SEO efforts to get quality website traffic, which leads to conversions, sales, and brand exposure.
Great content with link building, on and off-site optimization, local SEO, and other efforts is your best bet against a rocky economic future. It also shows current customers and anyone thinking about buying from you now that you are there for them. You are investing in the content they need and making it easier for them to find it.
Now is your chance to invest in the now and the future in four steps…
- Take a hard look at what is happening in your industry so you can plan your SEO effectively
- Identify and fix any errors on your website as well as clean up any toxic backlinks hurting your rankings
- Create great content that is missing or underserved in your market
- Engage in a long-term SEO campaign to build traffic in the near term and for the future
Now is your opportunity to shine as a business. It’s also the time for you to plan against a protracted recession or a future economic slowdown.
Revised on 3/20/2023