Is SEO Your Best Bet During a Recession?


By Luke Whitaker, SEO Consultant at Organic

According to a former Bank of England rate-setter on Bloomberg, we’re probably already in recession and the depressing UK headlines keep coming as Britain is set to have the slowest growth among major industrialised nations next year, as double-digit inflation and rising interest rates squeeze household spending, also reported here on Bloomberg. We’ve also been warned that the global economy may also soon be on the cusp of recession.

With that in mind, business leaders’ thoughts are undoubtedly turning to protecting their companies. And whilst SEO may not be the first focus area that springs to mind, it’s actually an uber-effective way to boost your organisation.

Reasons to Invest in SEO During a Recession

During an economic downturn, retailers consider ways to tighten up expenditure while trying to stimulate sales. Enter SEO, an efficient, affordable and ethical approach. Not only does it help you understand customers’ behaviour and needs but it also shines a spotlight on how much they’re willing (and able) to spend and where.

Organic Clicks Do Not Directly Cost

SEO is the process of improving your rankings in unpaid – organic – search engine results. Tactics range from keyword research and link building to quality content creation. When you implement an effective SEO strategy and put it at the heart of your business, you raise your digital brand’s visibility and ranking, making it easier for potential customers to find you.

Organic clicks do not incur a direct cost, so if you have a strong SEO roadmap, you’re on track to maximising those all-important zero-cost clicks. However, it is important to note that you do need to pay an agency or employ specialist staff to implement SEO, which will come with a cost. How much of a cost depends on your available budget and like many things in life, the higher the budget, the better the results may be. Remember though that often a large SEO retainer can still be relatively small in comparison to other media budgets within an organisation.

By contrast, when you pay for ads, resulting website traffic usually comes at a direct per click price. Paid media can be pivotal to businesses, especially in hard times but in terms of longevity, it’s hard to beat the results of good SEO.

To help ensure you beat your competition in terms of traffic, be sure to avoid common SEO pitfalls. From technical errors like duplicate product descriptions, to high-level blunders like assuming fixes will stay live or not conveying the importance of SEO to your entire organisation – all challenges need to be considered.

SEO and Conversions

When hard times hit, consumers set stricter priorities; they’re reluctant to spend money, particularly on non-essential items. That can lead to a decrease in conversions, sales and profit.

If you don’t concentrate on SEO during these uncertain periods, the likelihood of that happening is even greater. So, put yourself in the strongest position by doing all you can to ensure customers hit the ‘Buy Now’ button, whether that’s by improving and streamlining UX, speeding up page load times or optimising for mobile.

SEO: Measurable and Amendable

Another reason SEO is valuable during a downturn? You can easily track its performance and results. Metrics to focus on range from organic traffic numbers, keyword ranking and SERP visibility to click-through, bounce and conversion rates. As a result, you can identify if you’re falling down somewhere and tweak your SEO plan accordingly.

The Flexibility of SEO

SEO also allows you to target potential customers locally or internationally – particularly useful during a recession. For instance, if you’re a small online retailer, it’s all about long-tail keywords that appeal to consumers closest to you – location-specific SEO. Indeed, a regular local customer base may well become your lifeline.

Conversely, if you’re a big brand, home in on keywords that will help you reach new markets that may not be feasible in more competitive boom periods.

SEO and Ethics

By optimising your website, multiple parties share the benefits: your business, your customers and the search engines. Of course, an alternative strategy during a period of economic decline is to slash prices and offer bargain deals but is that sustainable?

SEO creates a level playing field, whereby all companies can take part. Those with a strong SEO game reap the rewards, while those who don’t participate at all aren’t actively penalised.

Meanwhile, if an organisation is found to use SEO negatively – black hat practices – they may pay the price by being (temporarily) unindexed by Google – an unappealing proposition given the global behemoth dominates the search engine market.

Investing in SEO During a Recession

Bolstering your SEO is a way to help safeguard your digital business during an economic slump. Why? When used effectively, it puts you in a strong position to maximise organic clicks and maintain (or increase) conversions. But remember, SEO is essential to success regardless of whether the world is going through a recession or a boom.