What with consumers stuck inside and conservatively conserving their cash, many businesses are looking for ways to cut their budgets without eliminating their operations entirely. Right now, marketing is one of the best investments for businesses struggling to get by; digital marketing keeps businesses in touch with their audience, which could boost online sales but more importantly maintains brand visibility and engagement. Unfortunately, because so many businesses are investing in digital marketing during the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses simply don’t have the resources to compete when it comes to developing online content.

That’s where SEO comes in.

SEO is perhaps the best strategy for businesses striving to maintain or improve their visibility on the web while decreasing their expenses. Here are a few reasons SEO could save businesses struggling to survive during the pandemic and beyond.

SEO Is Less Expensive Per Click and Per Acquisition

The primary alternative to SEO is PPC, or pay-per-click advertising, which as the name suggests requires businesses to pay a set fee per user interaction with an ad. Both major and minor websites host PPC ads, and the cost per click will depend on a number of variables, such as the ad service employed, the location of the ads, the quality of the ads and more. Using Google Ads, a small business will probably pay about $1 to $2 per click, which could result in expenses between $9,000 and $10,000 per month. Those expenses do not go away as a business grows. In fact, larger businesses with more name recognition will garner more clicks, increasing their PPC costs.

In contrast, SEO attempts to build organic traffic to business websites. Organic traffic finds and follows links on search results and in content around the web, and that content isn’t necessarily paid and certainly isn’t an ongoing expense. Though most businesses do pay for SEO services, the associated costs are meager and decrease over time because. The ROI is actually excellent.

However, costs will vary depending on the amount of competition needed. According to Abby Smith from Digital Current, it is possible for a local pizza company to hire an SEO company for as little as $500 a month. On the other hand, a major ecommerce provider may need to pay an SEO company a retainer over $10,000 a month. Business owners need to be realistic about the amount of competition that they face when estimating SEO costs.

SEO Becomes More Effective Over Time

As mentioned above, PPC does not decrease in price over time. In fact, larger and older businesses often have much higher PPC expenses because they are enjoying higher engagement and might acquire more robust PPC packages for greater visibility.

Such is not the case with SEO. Over time, SEO grows in effectiveness. According to Search Engine Journal, it might take years to see an improvement in search ranking and to benefit from the higher organic traffic, but with diligent effort, SEO will pay off. Eventually, businesses will need to do less to improve or maintain their search engine ranking, which means their reliance on SEO experts and accordingly their costs for SEO will begin to decline. SEO works so well as a long-term strategy within digital marketing because…

SEO is even more effective if you use it for different channels. You can use SEO to get more traction for your social media channels. Mixed Interest reports that this is a prudent decision since there are so many benefits of social media marketing.

SEO Enhances Your Brand and Builds Consumer Trust

For years, SEO was like hacking search engines — finding loopholes in their algorithms to achieve high rankings without putting in the real time and effort required to get there naturally. Yet, Google has systematically reduced the efficacy of those black-hat tactics, compelling SEO professionals to develop much longer-term strategies for generating high-quality content and natural audience engagement. As a result, SEO isn’t merely a technical trick for gaining visibility; it is integral to a business’s overall digital marketing strategy.

SEO, in conjunction with content marketing, helps to build digital assets, which help to flesh out brands. Plus, consumers tend to trust businesses that appear higher in search results; not only are better-ranked links more convenient, but they seem to be judged as more legitimate or higher-quality, as well. In contrast, Neil Patel reports that many consumers automatically ignore advertisements or look down on businesses that pay for ads, especially if those ads are ugly, irritating or otherwise low-quality. SEO is a slow and methodical way to generate more traffic to a business’s website without compromising its brand image.

Struggling businesses shouldn’t pull away from marketing entirely. Especially as consumers shelter at home, effective digital marketing is what will keep businesses engaged with their audiences. However, businesses should choose marketing options that offer a low investment and high return — options like SEO. Compared to PPC, SEO is less expensive over both short and long term, and it can do so much more for a business’s marketing than boring ads. Struggling businesses should always consider SEO as a viable strategy for jumpstarting online visibility and boosting sales.

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