The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected businesses in almost all sectors across the United States. The lockdown from the first half of the year has forced many businesses to shutter their doors, some for good.
Many businesses have survived the lockdown by shifting their operations online. As people stayed indoors, shopping for goods, including food and groceries, went digital.
Shopping Habits of American Consumers During Lockdown
According to one research, about 42% of Americans purchased household necessities online at least once a week in March 2020. That is almost twice as much as the number recorded two years ago (22% in 2018).
However, the trend is not temporary. Over half of the people who purchased groceries online said that they will consider doing it again even after the pandemic.
The popularity and necessity of online shopping during the pandemic has pushed business owners to spend more on search engine optimization, or SEO.
Hiring an SEO company can significantly help a business that might be losing customers and income due to the pandemic in multiple ways.
Search Ad Spending to Go Down
The pandemic is so much uncertainty. Following the stay at home orders in many states earlier this year, millions of people lost their jobs. The stock market also plunged dramatically over the past 10 months. The U.S. entered an economic recession for the first time in over a decade.
As a result, spending on marketing is down. eMarketer predicts that search ad spending will drop somewhere between 20.2% and 29.4% in the second quarter of 2020 because of COVID-19. While the travel industry is expected to make up for the decrease in search ad spending, the media and entertainment sectors will be decreasing the expense that goes toward search ad spending as well.
Amazon has already announced in March that it is reducing the number of ads that it is running on Google.
More businesses are going to follow the e-commerce giant’s lead. While easy and effective, search ads spending is usually one of the first to go. This strategy is geared toward driving conversions that, in most cases, are not possible due to inventory or staff shortage, stay-in-place orders, limited customer capacity, etc.
SEO Is More Affordable but Effective
SEO is a worthwhile investment. A business does not have to shell out money to implement strategies, but it promises major benefits.
SEO, if done correctly, places a business on the first page of Google Search. It is where you would want to be because most consumers look at only the first page of Google Search. Only 10% of consumers actually make it to the second page.
Those on the first page, therefore, receive more clicks and, theoretically, more conversions compared to businesses on the second page and third page of the Google Search Result.
The first link is the most coveted spot because it gets 33% of clicks. The number of clicks (click-through rate/CTR) drops significantly in the second link (17.6%). If your link is the fourth on the page, you can expect less than 10% clicks to your website.
SEO Is Better than Paid Ads
However, being the first link does not matter if it is a paid ad. Consumers are only more likely to click a link if it was an organic search result, not a paid ad.
Paid ads only receive 10% of clicks, while listings that were not sponsored gain 90% of clicks. This means that people trust organic search results more than paid ads, even if the latter appears higher on the Google Search Result’s first page.
People Search for Local
Travel and movement are restricted during the pandemic, which means people have no choice but to shop locally.
In the past couple of months, there is a significant increase in queries for “near me” — businesses that are near the consumer. As a response, Google optimized Google Maps and Google My Business. When a customer searches for local businesses, relevant information such as dine-in, delivery, and take away are displayed in the search results.
Businesses should take advantage of local SEO to increase visibility within their communities.
SEO Lasts Longer than the Pandemic
The problem with ads is, it only lasts as long as the business is paying for it. Once the company pulls funding, the ad will disappear, too.
That is not the case with SEO. SEO works even after the business is no longer paying for strategies to be implemented. Companies that have a solid SEO in place before the pandemic is still enjoying its benefits now, even if they do not funnel more money toward it.
SEO, if adopted today, can help businesses gain new customers during and after the pandemic.
SEO is not a fluke. It is more affordable than other marketing and advertising methods, but it can be equally or even more effective if done right. It is also a solution that will work for months and years to come.