This is how you use the SEO budget efficiently in the event of downtime
9 mins read

This is how you use the SEO budget efficiently in the event of downtime

As SEO professionals, we’ve been here before.

flat times. downtime. budget cuts. Challenges that affect our plans and what we need to get the job done.

In a way, we can look to the past to gain wisdom and find ways to execute our strategies in a leaner, smarter way.

SEO isn’t immune to budget cuts in uncertain times (yes, I’m sick of that phrase too).

Whether it’s a recession, pandemic, or some other local or global situation, a downturn can impact marketing budgets and what we can do for our organizations, brands, or customers.

Regardless of a downturn or other factors affecting SEO budgets, there are seven things you can do when faced with a smaller SEO budget that I want to share with you.

I sincerely hope you don’t have to face this scenario, but if you do, use them to get the most out of what you have to work with.

1. Needs analysis

When factors affecting budgets are linked to business and market conditions, the most important thing to understand is how this is affecting demand.

If you’re on the brand side, or in an agency or consultancy that focuses on a single industry, chances are you have some ideas.

However, when SEO budgets are being cut or slashed and you need to do less with more, you need to conduct an analysis to understand if demand for your product, service, or market as a whole has decreased.

Looking for fewer people? Are fewer customers going through the funnel or the customer journey? Is there a new drop-off point that didn’t exist before?

2. Reconsider your goals

Similar to the needs analysis, you need to think about the goals more comprehensively. Even if the market is the same and you have less budget or fewer resources available, you need to redefine your own expectations – and those of stakeholders.

Can you do as much as you did before with fewer dollars? Can you work with fewer internal and external resources and still make SEO successful?

If you need to cut back on content, tech support, or even SEO research and strategy, rest assured that the spend and results won’t be the same even if market demand hasn’t slumped.

Think about your goals, communicate them and make them as objective and tied to budget and resources as possible. If you’re asked to do more with less, that’s fine, but know it!

AI is currently a great tool that allows you to do more with less. So use them where you can, in a smart, quality way.

3. Tight digital footprint

I hate this tip, but it’s important. I’m usually concerned that more is better – if it’s of high quality. Regardless of whether it is about content, features, functionality or aspects of customer journey paths and funnels.

However, in tough times or when resources are limited, you need to limit your digital footprint.

Whether it’s due to resource rationalization or your own focus and budget, you need to downsize. When market demand falls, focus on where people are still searching and have needs.

That could mean trimming your list of topics and keywords to target the part of the funnel you want to be strong in, or to the most profitable product or service offering.

With a narrower focus and fewer resources, you can also limit your website’s resource footprint.

Whether it’s to really go into detail with a particular section, subsection, subdomain or microsite, you will likely have to make some decisions, strategic and tactical, that in many cases you wouldn’t.

You may not be able to optimize an entire website. So get as narrow as you need to and focus on that.

4. Focused Resources

SEO is impossible when one person does all the work unless you are in a unicorn situation. It requires resources such as IT, web developers, UX, content writers, brand strategists, legal/compliance and/or managerial approvals.

And maybe I’m missing something in the list above!

Back when I started SEO in the mid-2000s, I could do about 80% of it myself. Much more collaboration is now needed, for good reason.

However, when budgets are cut, one has to be very careful about where the remaining money goes.

In some cases this may be dictated to you. However, if you still have enough control, you need to prioritize where you put the budget and what resources you put.

This may mean that content is prioritized over technical updates.

Or technically via UX. Or CRO instead of link building.

Be smart, use your updated strategy and goals, and use your resources in a way that doesn’t stretch you too far.

5. Short term focus

What can be gained in the short term? Your market conditions, goals and the eventual extent of restrictive budgets will help dictate this.

Got just a few dollars left? Put it on the highest chance and priority items.

I know this sounds obvious, but SEO is big and complex. We tend to follow rabbit tracks.

There are many distractions. Stay disciplined, know what you need to do and achieve in the short-term, and do your best to forget about the long-term things.

If you’re trying to stay on top of things, get short-term ROI, and weather this season with budgets increasing again, choose things that have the best chance of short-term success.

This can mean local SEO, partnerships/connections with content, hitting the bottom of the funnel in keyword and content focus, or full SEO scope/scale but on a very short list of topics/terms.

6. Long-term focus

If you have the luxury of thinking about a long-term strategy or, more likely, you’re hit by lower demand but still have some SEO budget, then there are things you can do that will come in handy going forward.

With a long-term focus and strategy, you can stay ahead of the competition who are cutting budgets altogether or focusing on short-term thinking even when there is no demand.

I can speak from experience with clients from previous downturns who we have worked with even when their demand was falling and who chose to invest in building longer-term projects that took them to the top when demand picked up again .

Things to invest in if you have some budget, even if you don’t have the demand and want to think forward-thinking: website technology, infrastructure, the foundation of the content, your thought leadership platform, and how you serve the entire funnel Authority in your industry.

If demand drops in the short term, I’m willing to bet that your competitors will take their foot off the gas and give you an opportunity to overtake them and come out stronger on the other side – unless you’re already at the forefront of your areas of focus and -get it.

7. Measure the effort

Never stop measuring what is happening. You want to have your own performance data to be able to objectify everything you can do.

This means you’ll be able to make connections between budget, market and other resource cuts and performance.

This allows you to continue (or begin) to know the real impact of downturns, investment declines, and market factors on your SEO efforts. You also get benchmark data for the future.

If you have past data on downturns or budget cuts, use that as a guide too!

Do nothing without forecasts, expectations and measurements. Whether you’re in a public company or a small business, data is a destination that eliminates as much of the gray area as possible.


Again, I hate writing articles on this topic.

However, I am a realist and over the past few months I have personally seen how the economy has impacted my clients and ultimately my agency.

If you’re faced with a reduced budget for SEO, it’s better than no budget.

In fact, I would fight for some level of budget and investment if you re-read my long-term focus section above.

Regardless of your situation, I know it’s difficult. I’m with you.

It can be tough mentally and physically. stay strong friend

SEO is important and if you focus on it, be objective and do what you can with the resources and opportunities that are available to you, you can pull through and on the other hand come out stronger.

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