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3 Reasons to Keep Content in Your Marketing Budget During COVID-19

Toilet paper is a hotter commodity than Apple AirPods. Wanderlust lists are indefinitely on hold. The idea of a “staycation” has taken on a whole new meaning. We’re all rethinking how and what we spend our time and money on right now. The uncertainty of the future has everyone tightening their purse strings, both at […]

Toilet paper is a hotter commodity than Apple AirPods. Wanderlust lists are indefinitely on hold. The idea of a “staycation” has taken on a whole new meaning. We’re all rethinking how and what we spend our time and money on right now. The uncertainty of the future has everyone tightening their purse strings, both at home and in the workplace.

When it comes to marketing and eCommerce budgets, content and paid search are two of the first things I’ve seen departments cut. Pulling back on paid search makes sense for many brands. It’s a “switch” that you can turn OFF and ON for clicks. Content is different. It’s more like sapling trees you plant now so you can enjoy sunny days in the future, and it’s not so easy to rip out those saplings and replant them down the road with the same results.

To help equip my fellow writers and digital marketers, I’ve put together a list of three search-grounded reasons that could help you make a case for holding on to content in your marketing budget during COVID-19.

#1: Search engines reward consistent publishing

When you regularly post new content on your website, add new content to current pages, or update your content, you’re telling search engines that your site is well-maintained and worthy of being crawled and served in search results. Each new piece of content enriches the semantic variation on your site (as long as it aligns with your products/services/expertise) and gives search engines more opportunities to understand exactly how and what you’re relevant for.

Though freshness is not a Google ranking factor, Google does measure all of your documents for freshness, then scores each page according to the type of search query.

According to Moz, “Websites that add new pages at a higher rate may earn a higher freshness score than sites that add content less frequently.”

The famed digital marketer, Neil Patel, has a similar viewpoint, writing, “Fresh sites rank better. All things being equal, Google places higher priority on sites that update their content frequently.”

If you’ve maintained a consistent publishing cadence and all of a sudden pull the plug, you jeopardize the frequency at which your site is crawled and miss out on the benefits of an ever-growing content library.

Think about content like a marathon, not a sprint. Do you stop training for a marathon because winter comes and it’s 30 degrees outside? No.

Think about content like a marathon, not a sprint. Do you stop training for a marathon because winter comes and it’s 30 degrees outside? No. You wear more layers or train inside. You can’t train for a marathon for two seasons out of the year, skip a month or two, and expect to hop back into the race with the same momentum you had before. Similarly, you can’t expect to maintain the same site traffic, search visibility, and crawl-worthy “freshness” without a consistent and well-maintained stream of quality content.

#2: Search volume will return—and so will shoppers

With so many businesses temporarily closed and most of the world hunkered down at home, search trends are changing. No one is searching for “all-inclusive resorts,” despite the fact that we’re entering what would traditionally be a peak season for travel. No one is searching for “trampoline parks” either, since such establishments encourage far too much germ-swapping activity.

Search volume for keyphrases related to your business may be down right now, but it won’t be down forever. Search volume and interest will return. They did after the Great Recession (December 2007 – June 2009). I looked at search interest in three queries that felt indicative of discretionary spending and economic confidence: “kids birthday party places,” “buy a car,” and “all-inclusive resort,” between January 1, 2006 and January 1, 2011.

Search interest for “kids birthday party places” dropped at the end of 2007 and stayed low until the beginning of 2009, when it began to maintain a steadier, more positive trend. Interest in the term then continued to increase and surpass previous interest levels.

Search interest in kids birthday party places during Great Recession

Now, let’s look at “buy a car.” Search interest was low to stable during the Great Recession, then rebounded to a new level of higher interest afterwards.

Search interest in buy a car during the Great Recession

Search interest in “all-inclusive resorts,” (something we’re all dreaming of right now!) returned post-Great Recession with renewed abandon as well. Interest traditionally spikes in January and tapers off throughout the year, but look what happens in January 2010, just months after the Recession is officially “over.” Search interest returns higher than before and is sustained for longer into the year.

Search interest in all inclusive resort during the Great Recession

When search interest returns for your business and its products and services, will your website be found in the right place, at the right time, by the right people?

#3: People still want to hear from you

Whether or not your business model feels particularly relevant right now, you still have a unique perspective and wealth of information that can be applied to the current situation in a helpful way. You can still make the Internet a better place, participate in conversations online, and foster trust in your business from current and potential customers.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you sell diamond bracelets. Instead of writing a piece about types of tennis bracelets, write about how to clean your tennis bracelet at home with a DIY kitchen solution. Write a list of at-home date ideas worth dressing up for. Write about what it means to sparkle in life!

One more example. If you’re a coffee shop, your cafe seats are empty and your espresso machines are quiet. Instead of writing about in-store events, write about how to make latte art, make coffee cocktails, properly grind coffee beans at home, identify different roasting notes in different blends, or how to create a coffee shop’s atmosphere in any space.

Your business’s value proposition is still relevant. It’s relevant now and in the future.

Your business’s value proposition is still relevant. It’s relevant now and in the future. All it needs is a little reframing and creativity. (Check out Search Engine Land’s ideas for differentiating your content during coronavirus.)

There’s more to search (and life) than content

I write all of this with a caveat: there’s no blog post or web page in the world that’s worth more than an individual’s job. I understand that sacrifices must be made in all areas of business to help companies, both large and small, weather uncertain times. My hope is not that you keep investing in content at the expense of someone’s livelihood, only that you understand the potential impact of reducing or cutting content from your marketing budget. Only then can you either make a case for saving it or put together a plan for recovering site traffic and search visibility post-COVID-19.

We’re living in one moment in time. In my next post, I’ll explain how we can plan and prepare content for what comes next.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood from Pexels

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