SEO will be a primary focus for marketers during the downturn, says survey


Conductor released a new survey (registration required) that argues in favor of the value of SEO during an economic downturn. The survey had 317 respondents drawn from Conductor’s extended network across a range of industries, including B2B (24%), Retail (12%), Healthcare (11%), Media (10%) and others (travel and hospitality, consumer technology, financial services, insurance, automotive, e-commerce and manufacturing).

Budgets down, but goals the same or up. Like the most other marketer surveys right now, the Conductor study shows that budgets are being adversely impacted by the outbreak. However, the majority of these survey respondents — most of whom are hands-on practitioners — said their budgets were only decreasing slightly or remaining the same. Only 20% were seeing budgets “decrease greatly.”

Source: The Impact of COVID-19 on Marketing (2020)

Despite this, 68% said that their goals would remain the same (32%) or increase (36%). Accordingly, 86% said that their marketing goals would be more difficult to achieve this year given reduced budgets and other circumstances.

Asked “Will SEO be more or less important during this time?,” 63% said SEO would gain in importance either slightly (34%) or steeply (29%). Only 5% responded that SEO would decrease in importance.

Source: The Impact of COVID-19 on Marketing (2020)

Organic search the top channel. Organic search was seen by 66% as these marketers’ top performing channel last year, followed by paid search (50%) and email (50%). Social media was named as the top performing channel by just 14%. These perceptions will drive future marketing decisions in a downturn.

Source: The Impact of COVID-19 on Marketing (2020)

Confronted with a global recession, these marketers say they would, lower budgets, invest more in SEO and raise the ROI threshold for marketing decisions. Only a minority (25%) said they would issue layoffs.

Why we care. The survey can potentially be critiqued because its sample was drawn from respondents in the company’s extended orbit. However, the advice to invest in SEO as a top-performing strategy is validated by plenty of other data and is widespread among digital marketers looking at long-term impact. A potentially more “controversial” issue is SEO versus other channels when budgets are cut. Conductor VP of Digital Strategies Patrick Reinhart argued in a call with me that investing in SEO now (“planting the seeds and building for the future”) will pay significant dividends when the crisis is over.

This story first appeared on Search Engine Land. For more on search marketing and SEO, click here.

About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land, a member of the programming team for SMX events and the VP, Market Insights at Uberall.

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