It’s the oft-repeated refrain – ‘SEO is dead, with 2020 proving this statement is still very much alive and well. But, it is worth asking ourselves, is 2021 really any different? Should we believe that SEO is no longer relevant, nor is it useful or even a necessary aspect of a holistic digital marketing strategy?
It is undeniable that for many of us, 2021 does feel different. Indeed, as we enter the new year, hopes are high for growth and improvement after marketing budgets were slashed in response to the pandemic.
Businesses of all sizes felt the impacts of COVID-19; it is only natural that people begin to question what works and discard what is simply no longer necessary.
In all of the fray, it seems SEO is once again under attack.
So, as a Sydney digital marketing agency should we be totally pivoting away from offering SEO services?
Well, let’s have a look at what the trends are telling us.
Firstly, it is clear that all businesses – no matter their shape nor size – must take into account these so-called ‘unprecedented’ changes in behavior, particularly the mass exodus from CBD office blocks to the suburbs and more rural areas.
As the modern workplace begins to adapt to its staff’s needs and requirements, a more flexible schedule allowing for more working from home seems to be one aspect of the pandemic that we won’t be saying goodbye to anytime soon.
This huge relocation of bodies clearly means a loss in terms of these audiences’ exposure to traditional marketing mediums. These, of course, were once spread across transport networks, shopping malls, billboards, and splayed on the sides of vehicles.
So, we need to look and think about what it will mean if traditional advertising mediums simply no longer reach the people they need.
In Sydney, as in other major global centers, this change has been sudden and extreme.
And, with all of these people at home, another clear consequence of 2020 has been the surge in time spent online – working, studying, socializing, and, you guessed it – shopping for products and services.
In fact, somewhat unsurprisingly, Google reported a 20% increase in searches for the retail sector this quarter compared to the previous year.
So, if SEO was merely one part of a successful marketing strategy – it has now become the channel of choice for businesses that see the medium to long-term investment in driving organic traffic to their website.
The other aspect of the pandemic has been the jump in local searches, particularly those containing the ‘near me’ modifier.
Consequently, there has been a rush to focus on local SEO to outrank competitors and drive engagement, as local SEO allows you to reach potential customers by targeting those searching in your area.
There’s also no better time to capitalize on this. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a conscious effort on Australian consumers to opt for local. Brands themselves have also been more focused on finding and sticking with onshore and local partners.
It’s simply unthinkable in the current environment not to focus on this area of business growth. However, many businesses don’t have the knowledge, experience, or integrated plan to effectively grow and engage their target audiences.
This is why it’s important to connect with a strategic SEO partner – a team of experts who can nurture a brand’s organic growth, so business owners can focus their time and efforts on the bigger picture.
But why pick an SEO team based in Sydney instead of overseas or international competitors?
Simply put, a team based in Sydney is better equipped to craft an SEO strategy with more attention on local search trends, including how to optimize search results to capitalize on those ‘near me’ searches.
A local partner also has an innate knowledge of Sydney-based consumers, allowing your business to craft an outreach program focused strongly on engaging with local organizations and local partners.
All of which, of course, has become increasingly important to customers as attention has turned towards home.
A Sydney-based team can also boast an innate knowledge not just of consumers and their wants and needs but your competitors as well.
This means being able to sniff out what is coming and helping you differentiate your strategy from those around you.
Lastly, being based in the same community, you’re trying to target your marketing means understanding the changes occurring in that very same place. After all, they say you need to walk a mile in another’s shoes to truly understand them, and living and working in the same communities truly make this tangible.
Therefore, maybe SEO is not dead at all – maybe it just needs rethinking.
What is fair to say is that 2020 has been a year of drastic and sudden change. To respond to the pandemic’s impacts and grow your business in the current uncertain environment, a renewed focus on SEO is set to be an important aspect.
A focus on local engagement, coupled with turning away from more traditional forms of advertising – say goodbye to billboards and bus shelters – might just be the response to 2020 your business is asking for.