How to manage SEM & SEO during challenging times?

COVID-19 has changed the state of mind of the entire world, and focus has shifted from everyday business to national lockdowns. The digital landscape is also affected by COVID-19. Thousands of people are working remotely and using digital tools to help homeschool their children.

Many organizations already took a big hit to their sales and on their bottom line. Many consumers fear a recession next year and are spending less money than usual (though many consumers are actually currently spending 30% more on online shopping than normal) at the moment. So the question is whether to pull back some of the marketing initiatives or to do more online in the months to come? 

We picked SEO expert, Mia Andersson, and PPC expert, Anders Leds, brains to find out how they plan to manage and consult their ecommerce clients.

SEO during and after COVID-19

By looking at organic search results, we see that organic performance has dropped during the Corona-period. Most of these websites, however, have a flat keyword ranking curve. Google Search Console also shows considerable drops in search impressions - yet rankings are the same. This information validates that companies don't have an SEO/ranking issue, but a drop in search demand due to COVID-19.

It would be rather natural to start reducing spend in SEO and content marketing efforts. Though the problem is that companies risk losing organic rankings if they stop their marketing efforts. When the search demand returns, the companies will continue to drive less organic traffic than before the COVID-19 situation. So keep up your SEO-initiatives or maybe do more than you initially planned.

Closed stores = focus even more online!

Companies with both a local shop and an online store are responsible for making sure that their local customers can find them online. The integration of getting the local shop and online store to benefit from each other has never been more important.

During this time, it is important to update your Google My Business profile. Let your customers know that the local shop is temporarily closed and instead lead the way into your web store or website. If your shop has different opening hours or is closed for less than two weeks, list special hours. If the shop is closed longer than two weeks, the local shop should be set as temporarily closed.

It would also be good to update your business description in My Business if you already haven’t done so. Additionally, Business Posts are going to be really helpful for your customers in this COVID-19 period because initiatives or special offers in a website will be visible in SERP when customers are searching for a brand or specific products.

Keep up the SEO-work

The COVID-19 situation has changed a lot in the digital landscape. Search volume has changed and businesses are most likely going to come out of 2020 with quite a different result than assumed at the beginning of the year. With that said, it is important to keep in mind that the search volume will return at some point, and when that happens it is important to be on top of the search engine page results. So keep on the SEO-track and keep on developing your website so it meets customer needs and expectations. Your customers will be back soon.

SEM (PPC) during and after COVID-19

Wordstream recently delivered insights from tens of thousands of advertisers on how COVID-19 has influenced the landscape of PPC in the US and the impact goes across industries and advertisers. Since the beginning of March, the US experienced a drop of 7% in ad impressions, and a drop, on average, of 21% in conversion rate across industries. 

Not surprisingly, among the hardest-hit industries, we find the leisure and experience economy, including the travel and tourism industry, bars and restaurants, as well as concerts, festivals, and sports events. At the Adapt office, we have clients whose paid media channels were switched off from one day to the next due to a complete stop in travel sales. 

However, not all industries are experiencing a drop in conversion rate. Among the industries with increased volume and performance are streaming and on-demand media, health and medical, and beauty and personal care. 

Lower conversion rate, but ALSO lower CPC in the US

Other industries are experiencing more mixed changes in performance. In the US, online retailers experienced a 14% drop in conversion on search ads. In uncertain times as these, people might be unsure of their future income, which might be at least one factor explaining the lower conversion rate. However, due to an avg. decrease of 9% in CPC, it somewhat evens out on ROAS (return on ads spend).

Our tips for managing PPC campaigns during these challenging times:

  1. First of all, focus your budget on bottom funnel campaigns that are driving conversions, and decrease your budget in upper funnel or on campaigns that do not drive conversions. For example, focus on Facebook dynamic retargeting and custom audiences based on email subscriber lists.

  2. Additionally, focus on products that convert and are driving ROAS. Whether this is Facebook Ads or Google Shopping, pause products in your shopping feed and leave out products in your Facebook campaigns that do not contribute to ROAS. 

  3. Use your time to optimize on the less exciting tasks like checking your search terms report and adding negative keywords that can save you money. 

  4. Lastly, have a plan for post-COVID-19. If budget allows it, consider expanding your email subscriber list through Facebook lead ads, for example.

What else can you do? Well...

Going forward, we advise you to pay extra attention to your data, revenue, and performance. In times like these, when customer behavior deviates a lot from the norm, there are new opportunities for growth. Use data to gain insights on rising demands within certain categories or products types.

Do you need a hand optimizing your PPC or organic search campaigns? Do not hesitate to contact us at


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