February, 18 2021   |   by Nick Barkman   |   Chief Growth Officer

Avoid the SEO Void

Measuring the Financial Impact of Pausing On-Going SEO Efforts in Reaction to a Crisis
Avoiding the SEO Void

Was talking to a friend the other day about SEO in the aftermath of COVID. She told me that when COVID impacted their traffic last March, her boss told her to pause SEO despite some protest. It’s not like her company was alone, when COVID hit, marketing budgets were immediately slashed across the board and SEO was a prime candidate due to the perceived nature of being a passive strategy. The problem with that is, as any SEO will tell you until they’re blue in the face a) it isn’t passive at all, and b) “unpausing” SEO isn’t resuming SEO, it’s starting over from square one.

She showed me the Google Analytics report. It got me thinking, so I asked what the average conversion rate was from organic traffic and what the average LTV was for each new customer. We both realized we had just put real, tangible, dollars-and-cents impact to pausing SEO. On the chart, the green line is the Google Trends line which, for the uninitiated, shows how frequently a given search term is entered into Google’s search engine relative to the total Google search volume over a given period of time. The white line is estimated traffic to the company's website for related searches.

There are 4 key moments:

  1. When sustainable optimization was achieved
  2. When COVID drove down search traffic overall
  3. When SEO was paused
  4. When SEO was "unpaused"

The first thing you’ll probably note is that, after the initial nosedive, category demand shot right back up, leaving website traffic down at COVID ground zero. When SEO was "unpaused" and work began again, it was starting from square one and is still not anywhere near category demand.

Yes, it will eventually get back to sustainable optimization.

But here's the REAL impact: since the point SEO was paused, it has cost the company 3,000-4,000 monthly organic site visits (represented here by the large area labeled “THE VOID”). Accounting for average conversion rate and LTV, those lost visits have cost the company nearly $900,000 in revenue in lost opportunity.

And the meter is still running.

We both realized we had just put real, tangible, dollars-and-cents impact to pausing SEO.
-Nick Barkman