It’s an understatement to say that it has been a challenging couple of years for business. As many small businesses struggle and the global economy takes a hit because of Covid-19 mitigation efforts, digital marketers find themselves in a unique position. Unlike many brick-and-mortar businesses, most digital marketers did not have to shut down, but they have still been affected. Looking ahead, they must navigate a landscape saddled with uncertainty.
There are pathways to success during these apprehensive times. One such route is through building trust. Research shows that throughout the pandemic, people have maintained trust in certain institutions, especially those they feel closest to — local school systems as well as state and local governments.
It is imperative that brands can build trust with customers as they work through this unprecedented year. A focus on search engine optimization (SEO) is part of a sound marketing strategy that can help build a sturdy infrastructure of trust. SEO is also uniquely suited to the current climate because it reaches digital customers who may be sheltering at home and does not require an onerous budget commitment.
The belief that SEO is a critical strategy for 2020 is one shared by a majority of marketers. A recent report from Conductor (via Search Engine Journal) revealed that 63% of marketers believe that SEO will be more important as the country continues to grapple with Covid-19. There is also an acknowledgment of challenges to be faced: 86% of marketers feel that their goals will be harder to reach in 2020. It is revealing that marketers, expecting to face greater hardships, see SEO as a useful countermeasure.
Trustworthiness is at the very center of SEO. When a consumer performs a search, they are looking for information that they can put their faith in. It is their expectation that the results of their search will be correct and reliable. That is why Google introduced its E-A-T quality rater guidelines, ensuring content has expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
When you rank high in search results, it shows consumers that you are a trustworthy source of information. Consumers want brands they can rely on, and research has shown that trust is a major factor for customers buying from brands. When you put effort into SEO, you are committing to a practice of sharing useful and authenticated content.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons SEO stands out this year is that people have long viewed it as one of the smartest marketing investments one can make. A report from BrightEdge (via Search Engine Journal) declares that over 40% of revenue is captured by organic traffic. That means that just under half your earnings can come from organic site visitors — the majority of whom are driven there thanks to SEO. Maintaining a robust search ranking is critical to holding a steady financial position.
It is also worth noting that SEO is an investment that can pay dividends for a long time. While you’ll always need to put resources into your search rankings and content, your ranking is not directly tied to a faucet of capital that can be turned on and off the same way PPC might be. Finding ways to have your marketing budget go further is essential in 2020, especially because 65% of marketers are expecting a decrease in their annual budget this year.
What should be clear is that utilizing SEO helps a business build a sturdy foundation rooted in trustworthiness that also offers a long-term return on investment. As the challenges of this year have shown, the best way to sustain uncertainty is to have guardrails around your business to keep a steady flow of visitors to your site regardless of your immediate resources.
SEO is a fundamental part of setting up these guardrails to protect you from hard times. The BrightEdge report also reveals that 51% of all website traffic comes from organic search. With a strong SEO strategy, you can sustain that website traffic even if you are forced to temporarily reduce your marketing budget.
Maintaining your organic traffic is always important, but if you’re facing troubled waters, it can be a lifeline in the storm. For all these reasons, marketers will be wise to double down on a robust SEO strategy to remain strong for the rest of this year and prepare for any future adversity.