Should I invest in SEO during a downturn?

Thanks to Ciaran for pointing out a micro-site from FT.com about how to beat the feeling of impending financial doom pervading the world at the moment.

The answer, according to research by McKinsey showed that:

The companies who increased their spend in a recession were the only ones whose profits rose substantially when the economy recovered.

McGraw-Hill found (when analysing the aftermath of the early ‘80s) found:

The sales of companies who had kept advertising during the 81-82 recession had risen 256% over those who had not.

As Ciaran points out, this makes a compelling case for investing in PPC just now. I also think there is a strong argument for working hard at your natural SEO at times like these as well. When your competitors pull back, you get more chance to shine - and this can become a self-reinforcing authority phenomenon which stays with you into the good times.

Now, it’s unsurprising that the FT (and indeed, Ciaran and I) think that people should keep spending on marketing their businesses, but the wealth of independent research that the FT has gathered (and their own behaviour - they are continuing to invest heavily in promoting their own business) is pretty compelling in my opinion.

Will Critchlow

Will Critchlow

Will founded Distilled with Duncan in 2005. Since then, he has consulted with some of the world’s largest organisations and most famous websites, spoken at most major industry events and regularly appeared in local and national press. Will is part...   read more

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7 Comments

  1. It's true but in my opinion economic downturn doesn't effect web as much as bricks-and-mortar business so investing is SEO will create just a tiny drop to businesess overall success.

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  2. I don't know much about SEO (I'm a quantum physicist) - but the fact that PPC is so measurable compared to other methods of advertising makes it more attractive during a downturn as companies want to understand which of their marketing £ is generating the most return.

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  3. You're absolutely right, Jon (about this, not necessarily quantum mechanics). People who are doing PPC see the benefit of continuing (why stop?) - the harder sell is people just starting to invest in online marketing (I find).

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  4. Very Salient point Jon. This temporary downturn will get those savvy business owners to realise that, ppc and seo, are the way to go. This will happen as they actually start to take a good hard look at ROI.

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  5. Paz

    "It’s true but in my opinion economic downturn doesn’t effect web as much as bricks-and-mortar business so investing is SEO will create just a tiny drop to businesess overall success."

    Of course it will effect online businsess just as much as the brick and mortar businesses as to get to basics its the customer that stops spending so if you sell anything you will be selling less.

    It will, I agree bring even more people into the online world which in turn is going to make it even more competetive and in the current downturn, worldwide, not just in the states of course there are less customers for more online businesses.

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  6. Absolutely! Search engine marketing makes sense in the recession and it is a much more cost-effective alternative than traditional advertising.

    Will gets is just right and the statistics he provides are illuminating.

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  7. It is the smartest thing to do! It is called anticyclical marketing strategy, invest in promotion when everybody else stops! This way everybody remembers you when they start spending money again!

    Nice to see it has proven to be true!

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