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Ten Reasons to Invest in SEO During a Downturn

15 Apr 2020 John Morabito

in SEO

As I lead our strong team of SEO experts at Stella Rising, I am fortunate to be a part of the growth trajectory for our wide variety of clients, and take away key learnings from each situation. As I discern patterns from our portfolio in the current, tumultuous moment, I am struck by the positives that come from an investment in SEO, even during a downturn. SEO is a channel that reaps compounding benefits; brands that maintain their commitment to SEO or begin now, will have invested in one of the top revenue driving channels for e-commerce. Here are ten reasons to activate a strong SEO program now, even during the COVID-19 outbreak.

1. Temporary Closure of Brick and Mortar Means E-Commerce is King

With virtually all non-essential businesses shut down nationwide, and a slow return to “normal” life certain, e-commerce will continue to be the key sales channel for many brands that previously relied on retail sales. If your brand falls into that category, now is the key time to invest in SEO to hedge against future fallout, while ensuring a strong sales channel via organic search. In our client portfolio at Stella Rising, we have seen a pattern: when a brand closes its physical doors, its e-commerce sales rise at a nearly commensurate rate. One example is a beauty brand sold at Sephora and other retail partners. That brand saw a 300% lift in e-commerce revenue for the month in March, with the SEO optimizations made prior helping to drive that increase.

2. Track It

SEO is highly measurable. While Google has removed the ability to attribute revenue to a specific keyword, we can still report on exactly how much revenue each page of a site generates from organic search. As it becomes increasingly important for marketing budgets to prove their worth, investment in clearly trackable channels is sound.

3. COVID-19 is Triggering Quick Changes in Search Trends

Few things motivate consumers like scarcity. Each week, new search trends are evolving in ways they never have before. First search volume for masks skyrocketed, then came interest in home oxygen meters that detect the early signs of pneumonia. There is an evolution to buyer behavior seen through search that starts with prevention, goes through care, and then will lead to life after the virus. That pattern could mean increased interest in categories directly and tangentially related to the pandemic, such as cleaning products, home fitness equipment, new hobbies, etc. Collaborating with an SEO team positions brands to leverage trends as they evolve.


4. Build Value for Better Days

The current situation wrought by COVID-19 will end and life will go back to a new normal, though it may look quite different. When that happens, SEO will continue to be one of your brand’s most profitable and cost-effective marketing channels. Again, continued investment in SEO means compounding returns later.


5. Pull Ahead of the Competition

As Warren Buffet noted: “be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy only when others are fearful.” If you have the wherewithal to invest now—when competition might be pulling back—there is a chance to excel. Whether now or post-pandemic, an early lead can equal a dominant share of voice in the marketplace.


6. Your Brand SERPs May Be Poorly Optimized

Right now, your digital audience is interacting with your website in ways they normally do not. While traffic for many brands is down, we are seeing strong conversions and revenue from brand loyalists. Our team offers a comprehensive brand SEO audit which analyzes your brand presence in search results with the intention of better facilitating conversions from your owned audience.

7. SEO Drives Nearly a Quarter of All Website Visits

When we analyzed client data, we found that in March of 2020 organic drove an average of 38% of e-commerce traffic and 27% of revenue. Organic is often thought of as an “already-owned” channel, however, brand clicks may only make up 10% of your overall traffic. This means that a large percentage of your traffic and revenue could be coming from non-brand queries in search engines if you were to strengthen your SEO program.

8. High ROI Marketing Channel

SEO is typically one of the highest ROI channels for our brands. Organic typically drives 50% of a brand’s e-commerce traffic and revenue and SEO helps drive organic page visibility to help aid in traffic and revenue from this channel. While SEO does take time to see a meaningful return, it is worth it: for the majority of brands, SEO is a channel that grows exponentially and offers a strong return the longer that the brand invests.


9. SEO is Not Subject to Inflation in Pricing

When people want to buy something from home, they go to search. With so many more searches happening, and so many brands competing for the same terms, we are seeing costs for brand and non-brand queries increase in Google Ads. Adding strong SEO offers a ROI at a consistent, predictable investment level.


10. SEO Can Improve Effectiveness of Other Channels

A good search engine optimization campaign looks at not just how to get traffic to the site, but also how to better convert and connect with the audience. The SEO recommendations around copy, taxonomy, site speed and more often lead to higher conversions across all channels. Research SEO aids in product development, effective brand communications, PPC, and social media. Every marketing dollar is more meaningful than ever; a channel with compounding value across all efforts is clearly a wise investment.


If your brand’s SEO program has previously been stagnant, underfunded, or non-existent, now is the time to jumpstart success and invest in the continued growth of e-commerce as a channel. Connect with us today to learn more about how we can help propel growth for your brand, even in this difficult economic moment.