SEO During the Financial Crisis

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What does search engine optimization have to do with the financial crisis?  A fair amount, and not just because people are going to be spending less money online.  That much is a given.  Site owners should look to the current mood of web surfers when devising any SEO strategy and tapping into current concerns.

Additionally, site owners should be aware that advertising revenue is more than likely to take a hit during an economic downturn.  There is evidence of this already, as advertising is one of the first things that gets taken down when profits are suffering.  By the same token, small ebusinesses are not likely to have the revenue to use for a PPC campaign.  Not only do small businesses have a small profit base to invest in a PPC campaign, but the campaign is more than likely going to be less profitable, as web surfers are being tight with their wallets.

Gearing Content to the Moment

The financial crisis poses a “teachable moment” for how to tackle SEO in a business.  Why?  Because the mood of the country will be reflected in the searches you’ll find online.  For any keyphrase that you’re currently using, you’re going to want to add words like “cheap,” “inexpensive,” “bargain,” and so on.  Really, you should have been doing this anyway – especially if this is a core purpose of the site.  But even if it isn’t (it’s not a web discount store) you can still play up bargains that may exist on the site.

Additionally, you should be thinking about providing articles on the site or the site’s blog with titles like, “How to Find Inexpensive ______.”  I mean, look at the title of this blog entry – it’s not just because it’s a relevant topic, but because its a way to draw in new web surfers who will undoubtedly be surfing for information about the financial crisis.  If advertising revenues are down, or your PPC budget is thin, you can at least make the most of the moment and attempt to give web surfers the kind of information they need.

SEO is sort of like playing the stock market.  At any given time, there’s an increased demand for a certain type of product so it’s a good time for investment.  The same goes with a search engine strategy, believe it or not.  Site owners should not only be looking at the latest white hat tricks to optimize a site, but just what types of information is floating around out there that will bring in visitors.

Obviously, right now the election is another big one.  If you’re creative enough, there’s a way to talk about the election and what your business might be.  Say you sell sports apparel: talk about the candidates take on the World Series.  Run a credit card affiliate?  Talk about the candidate’s views on the credit card industry.  This should be a no brainer, but budding search engine marketers are so caught up in trying to rank for the most basic keywords – baseball apparel, baseball gloves, for example – that they forget to concentrate on more tertiary issues.  Remember, it’s the more topical issues that can gain the most traction and lead to buzz online.

Search Engine Marketing When Times are Tough

Marketing is all about understanding your customer base: what appeals to them and what should drive sales.  Search engine marketing is no different, but too often it becomes a kind of mathematical formula.  Too much time spent on building links and structuring metatags and not enough time spent gauging customer needs.  When times are tough, your customers are going to have much different concerns.  Because they’re less likely to spend money online, you have to at the very least address financial concerns through the website.  This should translate into your online marketing campaign, email marketing, special offers, and everything else that makes up your current marketing model.

This depends in part on the type of business you’re running.  Not every business will be hit equally by the financial downturn, but even if your advertising revenue is high, you should still take into account some of the above concepts.  You can still drive new visitors to your site based on current buzzwords regardless of the strength or weakness of your current online marketing plan.

If you’re currently struggling to get a good page rank, this news may not be well received, but right now SEO is even more important than in the past.  In a time of relative uncertainty, people look to sites they can trust.  A high rank in search engines is one such example of a trustworthy site.  Fewer people are going to take a chance on a site deep within search results.  So just as your ad revenue or sales might be slipping, you have to take extra time to devote to SEO, as it can be one of our most effective marketing strategies when you can’t devote resources to more expensive forms of marketing.

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