How is the Coronavirus Pandemic Impacting SEO

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By Boris Dzhingarov

The World Health Organization has now officially designated the coronavirus as a global pandemic, confirming the severity of the outbreak and its potential to cause severe disruption to everyday life. A deep, global economic recession is now a very real possibility, one that governments around the globe are now gearing up to combat in a variety of different ways.

The impacts of economic recessions are rarely felt evenly across the board – some businesses will be affected much more than others. SEO businesses are unlikely to be directly impacted by the virus, but the clients that they rely upon to bring them business will almost certainly be hit. It is important that businesses act now to not only understand how the virus is likely to affect them but also to formulate plans for mitigating the worst of the effects. Here’s how the outbreak is affecting the world of SEO.

Remote Working

One of the biggest changes to most people’s lives since the Coronavirus struck has been the transition to remote working. Governments around the world are now encouraging anyone who is able to work from home to do so in order to reduce the spread of the virus. For lots of people, the idea of remote working is a dream come true. Many people have long dreamt of being able to do their jobs without having to leave the home, and one of the most common complaints from modern workers is that there is no need for them to actually be in the office.

SEO professionals are lucky in that many of the tools that they rely on to do their jobs are cloud-based, meaning that remote working is easy for them. However, that isn’t to say that there are no challenges associated with remote working that are relevant to SEO professionals. For example, the biggest difference between remote working and office working for most SEO professionals is that there is no longer any direct face-to-face contact between workers. That has implications for communications.

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If you do not have a decent communications infrastructure and systems in place, communication between workers and clients can become needlessly difficult. A breakdown in communications can have serious implications for your productivity and performance, something that you always want to avoid.

In terms of the businesses that hire SEO professionals, the switch to remote working shouldn’t directly impact their need for SEO services. However, different businesses are affected differently by the switch to remote working, so the precise impacts on your most important clients can vary considerably. Obviously, remote working isn’t an option for some businesses; some are having to close their operations entirely.

In some cases, the impacts of remote working on business between you and your clients can be mitigated by the fact that some parts of your clients’ business may remain open. For example, even if frontline staff with direct interactions with customers are off work, IT and marketing departments who work behind the scenes may be continuing to work in some capacity. Other businesses will be looking to ramp up their online operations to compensate for a slow down on the high street. That means that they still have a need for SEO services.

Lower Budgets

As you would expect during a period of general economic downturn, there is less money being spent in general. That means that SEO professionals are going to be receiving a smaller slice of a smaller pie for the foreseeable future. However, the impacts of coronavirus are not evenly spread across all businesses. Some are going to be hit considerably harder than others, while for some, the outcome is going to depend upon how badly the virus impacts their most important clients.

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Small businesses are more vulnerable than larger businesses, and as a result, many of them are now reducing their budgets. With fewer big businesses looking to spend their money with SEO professionals, some SEO businesses are going to have to scale back their own operations as a result.

As well as depressing the volume of orders in the future, many clients are going to find themselves having to cancel orders that they have already placed with SEO businesses. For some SEO businesses and freelancers, this sudden need for clients to pull back on their spending could have serious repercussions. While businesses may be able to adjust, smaller operations who suffer a sequence of canceled orders in rapid succession could find their finances taking a severe hit.

Prolonged Uncertainty

One of the biggest questions for businesses across the board right now is just how long this coronavirus-induced uncertainty is going to last. That is a difficult question to answer currently and it is unlikely to become any clearer for a little while yet. Businesses need to be prepared for economic uncertainty to persist for some time yet, at least several more months, and probably until the end of the year.

That means that marketing and SEO spending is likely to be down for some time yet. Not only do we need to deal with the virus and its aftermath, but businesses will then need time to recover and return to their previous levels of productivity. That’s only going to add to our anticipated recovery time.

Businesses base their buying decisions on certainty – businesses and markets hate fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Right now, there is plenty of all three to go around and the markets are reacting accordingly. The longer that uncertainty persists, the more significant its economic impacts. Whenever there is a severe economic downturn, governments’ first priority is to restore certainty to the economy and thereby restore investor confidence.

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Just like every other industry, SEO professionals need to be prepared for the challenges that are coming their way due to the outbreak of coronavirus. While the direct effects on SEO businesses will be limited, there are a number of ways that they will be indirectly affected by the outbreak. SEO businesses will need to prepare for a general downturn and the reductions in marketing budgets that inevitably come with them.