By Erik Newton, VP of Marketing at Milestone Inc.
Organic is the largest channel, generates the most leads, and contributes the highest share of revenue for most sites according to Milestone Inc. research of hundreds of sites.
This past year, inflation has been causing havoc for consumers and business across the country and concern of a potential impending recession have resulted in economic uncertainty. As businesses face this slower economy, however, it is important to know where to invest your resources to position yourself for the best success. You not only want to maximize your opportunities for bookings and sales during less certain economic times, but you also want to make sure your business is well prepared to excel when the economy begins to recover.
More than two thirds of the traffic on your website— 69%– comes from the search engines. SEO is the largest channel for digital representation, and so even just 2% movement from your SEO campaigns can impact more visits than your other channels.
This establishes that SEO is an area where businesses want to focus their efforts during these times of economic slowdown.
Investing in this particular digital channel will help you maximize the customers you bring to your site now while also growing your digital footprint so that you are positioned well when the economy picks up again.
SEO and your ROI
For businesses to effectively allocate resources, you need to pay close attention to the ROI you bring in from your different channels. Successful SEO produces a high ROI with some estimates recording it as high as 22:1. During times of economic slowdown, conversion rate optimization (CRO) projects can help you keep your revenue steady despite the downturn.
What is important to note about SEO and ROI is that the efforts you make to optimize your site can impact your brand growth throughout the entire sales funnel.
- SEO helps you get your company name out in front of customers. Your ability to accurately answer customer inquiries and provide helpful information builds your brand reputation. This all establishes a wide-reaching top-of-the-funnel pool to feed into your sales funnel.
- Search engine optimization also provides you with opportunities to encourage people to learn more about your offerings. You can create optimized landing pages that pull people towards your gated content as well as use internal linking opportunities to keep people engaged until they feel prepared to turn over their contact information. This allows you to build email lists and solidify sales-ready leads for the mid-funnel efforts.
- Finally, you can optimize content for people towards the bottom of the sales funnel who want to compare your products with those of your competitors. It provides you with an opportunity to present yourself in the best possible light and then offer potential customers enticing offers that bring in your purchases and bookings.
As you can see, SEO has a far-reaching impact on your overall marketing ROI and your strategy. To build conversion projects that will help you tap into this potential, you want to focus on the following areas:
- Make sure you know your existing conversion rate. The only way to know if your conversion rate has improved is if you know your starting rate.
- Use A/B testing to see the types of CTAs that your customers respond to best. For example, discussion surrounding banner blindness and the tendency for customers to ignore overt CTAs has increased and led to many experimenting with creating in-text CTAs.
- Track what pages people tend to visit before converting and optimize these pages to help customer easily move to the next step in your funnel. You might try adding built-in assistance, such as chat software, so customers can get answers to questions they might have in the moment.
- Consider adding assurances for customers on key pages. For example, you might add any guarantees your brand offers or testimonials from customers.
As you begin implementing your ideas, track what works and doesn’t work so you can better see what your customers respond to best.
Recognizing the dynamic nature of SEO
Additionally, businesses need to recognize that SEO and digital marketing are dynamic channels. It continues to change on a daily basis. Not only do you have to consider the changes made by search engine algorithms which impact how sites rank, but your competitors themselves also regularly update their pages. Failing to invest in your SEO can quickly result in a shift in market share, leaving you chasing your competitors.
Therefore, SEO is not a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ type of channel. Businesses need to remain updated on the latest developments in the industry, including shifting customer expectations and the steps Google has taken to adjust their search algorithm. Neglecting SEO means falling behind these shifts, particularly as your competitors will likely keep on top of the changes.
To stay on top of these changes, working with a professional SEO team can help businesses. At Milestone, our SEO team dedicates themselves to the latest trends and best practices in SEO. We can help our clients keep abreast of the latest techniques and guide them to make the strategy shifts necessary to remain at the forefront of their industries.
In addition to working with a team like ours, businesses also want to make it a priority to stay on top of SEO news and developments. This will alert you to the latest changes that you want to take into account for your website.
Co-optimizing paid and SEO campaigns makes even more sense during slow economic times
When economies begin to slow, many businesses might feel tempted to cut their advertising budget. In fact, studies have shown that you want to do just the opposite. By looking at paid and organic together, you can maximize output and ROI.
If your industry has been heavily hit by the recession, you might consider using advertising to bring in more top-of-funnel followers, acknowledging that you are playing the long game and laying the foundation to bring in customers when the economy picks up.
Co-optimizing means you adjust paid search as SEO results develop. Review high-ranking organic keywords and ads being placed against those same terms. Try bidding down on your ads and see if overall conversion rate and sales/leads stay the same. This gives you the opportunity to save ad spend or reallocate that spend to additional non-brand keywords you have want to test and expand visibility.
Check terms that are high converting in paid and see where you are organically. It’s worth concentrating on technical and content optimization to connect with customers organically. Then you can save on ad spend.
Looking at SEO and paid together can help you calculate the net lift in volume and net CPAs when paid ads are turned for a keyword where you also have organic visibility.
Additionally, excellent site and page experience has an impact on ad rank (formerly quality score) and improves your paid bid price and ROI.
Investing in site structure can help you excel
As a key component of your optimization efforts, you want to pay attention to your site structure. Your site structure has an immediate impact on your SEO in a few ways.
- It impacts how quickly your pages load, which directly impacts rankings.
- It dictates how your site and pages are organized. The ease with which your customers can navigate the site will impact their engagement, your traffic, and therefore your rankings.
However, site structure projects take time. When you have already encountered a slow period because of the economy, it can be a great opportunity to optimize your site structure and site design. Putting the effort in now means that your site will be ready for customers when they start preparing to buy again.
Site design should revolve around the story you want to tell your customers and the experience you want to create. Consider the emotions you want to elicit from customers as they land on your page and engage with your content and the site features that you can use to draw out these reactions.
Focusing on SEO during economic slowdowns
Moving into 2023, many businesses find themselves a bit wary of the economic situation that we will see in the new year. Careful planning, however, can help businesses seize their potential opportunities for revenue and growth during the slow periods while also setting themselves up for success when the economy begins to turn around.
We recommend focusing on the importance of SEO throughout these economic periods. The far-reaching implications of optimization for the search engines can positively impact your digital reach and your reputation, providing you with the position you need for long term growth.
Consider the tips and techniques we discussed above and see how they will impact your web presence. Then, reach out to the team at Milestone to learn more about how we can help you create a superior digital experience and optimize your web properties for digital success.