The ongoing turmoil has certainly impacted SEO agencies large and small. While large-scale digital marketing companies have cost overheads such as employee salaries, rentals, utility bills, subscription fees, consulting fees, etc. to worry about, small-scale agencies have little or no cushion against unexpected losses.  

Large agencies need to control cost overheads and have limited flexibility in pricing, delivery schedules, etc. Understandably, this is why large-scale digital marketing firms have taken to major salary cuts and lay-offs.

Small and medium scale agencies, on the other hand, can remain agile in crises such as the one we are dealing with right now and quickly shift focus to wade through the storm.

The goal for most SEO agencies and independent experts is to ‘survive today’ and ‘thrive tomorrow.’  But all digital marketing agencies have been losing clients, some more than others, since March or April this year.

So, how do you stop or minimize SEO client cancellations during COVID-19?

Let’s find out. 

Also read How Is Coronavirus Disrupting SEO Agencies?

1. Communicate Proactively

Millions of SMEs and large-scale organizations worldwide are staring at an uncertain future. During this ongoing crisis, business owners are looking for guidance and want to be communicated frequently so that they know what’s really going on.

Your clients are no different.

Be sure to keep your SEO clients in the loop whether you are updating your digital marketing strategies, changing work hours, offering new delivery schedules, hiring new talent, or laying off some employees from the account management team they previously worked with.

communicate proactively

2. Help Clients Prepare for Post-COVID-19 Times

This is one of the best ways to prevent SEO client cancellations during the ongoing crisis.

It is possible that many of your clients have not been able to generate any revenue for many weeks now. They may have suspended or downsized business operations due to an outbreak in their communities. 

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Even businesses that have been open are hit badly as fewer people these days are willing to spend money on non-essential products and services.

Nearly 33% of people who participated in a recent survey indicated that the news of COVID-19 has altered their shopping behavior.

If your clients have suffered losses or registered a sharp fall in their revenues, they may soon want to cut down on various expenses, including the amount of money earmarked for SEO, SMM lead generation, online reputation management, etc. in the current financial year.

No one knows when exactly we will move past the ongoing crisis. Although several commercial activities have resumed in most countries around the world, it will not be until mid-2021 (at least) when the economy rebounds.

Regardless of how the situation is right now, your SEO clients would want to reignite growth in post-COVID-19 times.

Chances are, they have already begun preparing for it.

You can pitch digital marketing plans that aim at driving targeted traffic six months or a year from now. Your SEO campaign plans can be focused on how your clients can use the next six to twelve months to –  

  • Strengthen their position in the market
  • Increase their search rankings 
  • Stay ahead of the competition by creating and disseminating content through the crisis

In any case, SEO campaigns do not deliver immediate results. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to help your clients look beyond the recession and prepare for a lasting recovery in the post-corona world.

3. Explain Why Your SEO Clients Should Not Stop Creating New Content  

Some of your clients might think that taking an SEO holiday won’t cause any issues.

The inconvenient reality, however, is that making up for the loss of rankings due to an SEO holiday is not exactly easy.

When you suspect a client contemplating SEO campaign cancellation or they directly suggest taking an SEO holiday, be sure to explain the details of what might happen.

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First, when they stop publishing new content on the Internet –

  • They will no longer be consistent in targeting new terms; the outcome will be fewer keyword rankings in the future
  • They will not be creating new articles or pages that can be linked to; with time, the number of links their websites earn will go down
  • They will not be capturing new visitors that could be added to their push notification lists, email marketing lists, and remarketing audiences
  • They will not be producing and publishing any new content that gets shared on social media platforms
  • Their websites will no longer be encouraging return visits

Put simply, when you stop creating, interlinking, or disseminating content, you are practically informing Google that your website is no longer active.

Second, various technical issues including GSC errors could go unnoticed if a website is no longer monitored.

Some of the most common technical issues that can come around are:

  • Generation of duplicate content
  • Pushing a website under development into index
  • Blocking indexed pages via the robots.txt file
  • Reduction in page load speed
  • Mobile usability problems
  • Malware problems

4. Provide Some Additional Resources at Zero Cost

Your clients’ needs may have changed over the past few months. You can provide them with some additional resources for free during this crisis.

For instance, if a dine-in restaurant has recently pivoted to the take-out model, you can help them attract prospective customers with a revised SEO campaign, marketing automation support, etc.

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Some of the most common services that can be offered in addition to SEO to help a client during COVID-19 are:

  • Data analytics
  • Graphic design
  • Web development
  • Content creation and dissemination
  • Podcast/video editing
  •  PPC campaign management

What if a restaurant owner wants to generate leads for home-deliveries but isn’t exactly sure if he should spend money on designing landing pages and creating content.

On such occasions, you can offer one or more services on a complimentary basis (or on a discount) to get them to continue a digital marketing campaign.  

Offering discounts and free additional resources, or deferring partial payments until the next year – are some steps you can take to boost your clients’ confidence in your agency during COVID-19.

5. Downsize SEO Campaigns – Create an Affordable Pack of Essentials

Many business owners know they will hit rock bottom if they don’t take drastic cost control measures.

What if they do not have the financial cushion to absorb the losses?  

What if they are worried about their survival?

Small businesses, in particular, cannot absorb a shock of this magnitude if they have been out of business for two or three months.

Even if your small business SEO clients understand how stopping SEO efforts for a few months or a year can reverse the momentum, they may not be willing to pour money from their rainy day fund into digital marketing campaigns.

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On such occasions, you can create an affordable pack of essential SEO services for your clients. This way, you can help your SEO clients keep their websites active through the pandemic.

An affordable pack of essential SEO services during the COVID-19 pandemic can include the most important elements. You can also reduce the volume of content produced each month. This way, you can lower the net cost of SEO campaigns by 50% to 80%.

A small business organization that previously spent $1,000 per month on digital marketing may get delighted at the prospect of continuing with a basic SEO campaign at $200 per month.

It’s a win-win situation for both you and your client.

6. Explain that SEO Is a Cost-Effective Investment during the Pandemic

Experienced digital marketers have already begun shifting their content creation and marketing strategies. They have altered their content marketing strategies and are aggressively investing in SEO during COVID-19.

Since January 2020, there has been an increase in interest in terms related to ‘SEO’ in the United States.  

More people are now searching online to find information, products, and services. It may be happening because people these days are avoiding offline shopping. A recent survey has revealed that more than 40% of Internet users in the U.S. were intentionally avoiding malls and shopping centers.

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This is one of the reasons why medium and large scale companies are ramping up SEO efforts during COVID-19.

In comparison to other forms of marketing and traditional paid media campaigns, SEO delivers measurable results at a relatively lower cost. During the current economic downtime, a well-planned SEO campaign can help many businesses stay afloat.

7. Be Flexible

Small and medium scale SEO agencies have the powerful advantage of remaining flexible during COVID-19. 

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You can, for instance, temporarily restructure your SEO service contract and reduce printing to better accommodate your client’s needs.

You can also delay invoices on a temporary basis if the need be.