March 25, 2020

SEO experts on how they navigate uncertainty now & what their next steps are

We asked SEO experts to share their tips and vision for remote work and what's next on their strategies to push through uncertain times, together with their clients. Read more about all they had to say!
March 25, 2020

SEO experts on how they navigate uncertainty now & what their next steps are

March 25, 2020
Published on
March 25, 2020
Updated on
January 8, 2021

SEO experts on how they navigate uncertainty now & what their next steps are

March 25, 2020

SEO experts on how they navigate uncertainty now & what their next steps are

We live fuzzy, uncertain days while trying to keep productive.

Teams switch to remote work, workflows need to be adjusted, constant client communication is vital and leaders try to mitigate various risks on the go.

We wanted to know how these days look for SEO specialists and their agencies, so we asked them to share how they managed to adapt and navigate this uncertainty. 

This article is an ongoing journey, as we will continue updating with incoming responses from our SEO community.

So, we asked them the following two-folded question: 

  • What was the impact of shifting to remote work? (what did it mean for you?)
  • What are your thoughts about the short to medium effects of the current situation? What should we expect? 

Here’s what they had to say about remote flows, the state of the industry, how the long-term may look like and more:

Kevin Gibbons, Founder @Re:signal

Kevin Gibbons, Founder @Re:signal:

More than ever, it's about communicating the value SEO brings. Quite often organic search is the biggest revenue and traffic driver to a site, be clear about why it's so important to continue pushing forward with at this time. Also, look at the recent search trends in your market, is there anything you can adapt towards which can be a short-term gain?

Andrew Parker, Performance Director @Blueclaw

Andrew Parker, Performance Director @Blueclaw:

We were already extremely well set up for remote collaboration as an agency. It was just a matter of changing our daily stand-ups to virtual stand-ups. I’m a big advocate for remote working but we are in a strange situation of not knowing when it may end. The most important thing is clarity in your communication to your team. Your people need to come first, their physical and mental wellbeing and then being a partner to our clients. The Blueclaw team have not missed a beat despite the challenging backdrop to everyone’s situation and gone all out to re-schedule work and effort into areas we can really make a difference for our clients and make sure they come out of this on top.

For marketing: now is the time to press on with getting your house in order for when normal service resumes. Fix that tech backlog, refresh your content, create new pages, get sign off from that person who is always in meetings but is now at home with more time on their hands. The real short term is going to rightly contain a taking of stock and checking on cash flow and costs. I am already seeing businesses come out of the other side of that process and we have been able to partner with them on that and now we are getting down to work on our new look 2020. Medium-term, whoever is able to get that short term pivot out of the way the fastest is going to come out on top.

For remote working/society: Discussions are already happening around the benefits of remote working, the positive impact on society of less commutes and how technology should work for us in a more meaningful way. I fully expect this discourse to become a focal point for many once the dust begins to settle. Everything from the environmental impact to “does a company really need to maintain such a large office space” as the widespread remote working future becomes reality.

Natalie Mott, Freelance SEO Consultant:

As a freelancer, I was fortunate to already be prepared for the switch to remote working. The agency I worked at before going freelance had transitioned to remote work a year earlier as well, so I learned some valuable lessons about staying productive and keeping teams motivated during that time.

I don’t think anybody can reliably predict the short to medium-term impacts of the Coronavirus situation overall, but for businesses that can still operate using a remote working model, my advice would be for senior leaders to prioritise the wellbeing of their staff and check they have everything they need, physically and emotionally, to do their jobs at this time. For example, if an employee’s home environment is not ideal for remote working, talk this through with them and find a way to support them. Remote working is not for everyone and some people will need more help with the transition than others.

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Tim Grice, CEO @connective3

Tim Grice, CEO @connective3:

To be completely honest remote working has been a very simple transition. Our culture is based on trust and allowing people to work as flexibly as possible so, whether we’re in the office or not, work is always done to the highest standard. I guess the real challenges are around maintaining culture and continuing collaboration. We have been using Microsoft teams to communicate, we have a business-wide video call at 9 am every morning and another one in the afternoon. This is for general updates and to share successes, keeping everyone motivated and positive. Ultimately, remote working hasn’t really had an impact on us as yet, but I know of many businesses where this has been a real challenge.

We fully expect little to no growth over the next 3 months, our priorities are clear:

  • Give above and beyond service and support to our clients.
  • Continue to deliver helpful insight and advice to the industry and support anyone we can.

We know businesses are going through serious uncertainty and are helping them as much as possible by being flexible with budgets and exploring new channels and opportunities from them. Being rigid with budgets and channels is not the right approach for businesses at the moment and agencies need to support where possible.

Long term I think we are going to see an unprecedented economic bounce back, with never seen before growth across all markets. We want to be ready for this wave of new activity by supporting businesses as much as possible through these more difficult times, keeping our team strong and investing in tools, technology and marketing so we are ready when the world wakes up.

Arianne Donoghue, Founder @tempest Marketing

Arianne Donoghue, Founder @tempest Marketing

What did shifting to remote work mean for me? Not a huge amount changed as I was working from home about 50% of the time anyway. 

What it did mean is that remote work = home working – any of the other usual haunts I’d consider using are out of action. Even though I’m an introvert and am certainly not missing *having* to go outside, sometimes I do like to feel like I’ve got some company, and so podcasts and Twitch streams are my favourite ways to provide that.

I’ve also made more of an effort to check in with industry friends – we’re all looking out for each other at the moment and so it’s been lovely to see everyone come together. This also means that we’ve been looking at different ways to accomplish some of the things we usually would – and it’s encouraging us all to come up with creative solutions to meet-ups, training and much more.

What are the effects likely to be? It’s possible that we’ll go from coronavirus into a recession which will continue the pressure we’re under at the moment. People will be looking to do more, with less and this will give opportunities for marketers to get creative. I think we’ll see more of a focus on strategy, and how to solve clients’ business challenges, rather than just focusing on the channels that we may be responsible for managing. It’s going to be more about consultancy and support and being smart with how we focus our time.

Hannah Thorpe, Business Director @Found

At Found, like in most agencies around the world at the moment we’re being faced with the challenge of working remotely. Being a digital agency with a flexible working policy we’ve been well placed to make this transition, so in some respects I guess we’re quite lucky. However that is not to say that it has been without its challenges.

The biggest challenges that we’ve faced are not so much about systems, platform and processes but are around personal challenges and being considerate to what our staff are going through in these difficult times.

For me personally, that’s juggling being at home around other people who can interrupt me whilst I’m working and also the amount of screen time!  As a whole, I’d say the first week felt a bit of a novelty and this week has been when reality has set in and we all need to find our routine and rhythm for working from home. In my case, that means making sure I have enough time between meetings to get outside in the garden or on a walk just to break up my day.

I expect businesses to pivot from existing business models and look at innovative ways to do business when we are faced with uncertainty. I think short term those with the financial reserves to do so should look at how they can make big business changes without risking performance; for example if you were waiting to change your site navigation but were worried about the potential SEO downturn or a short term downtime on the website, this is the time to do it. For those who aren’t as fortunate to have the runway to do these things, it’s about changing your priorities to the highest performing channels and investment.

I think ultimately it opens all markets up to needing better data and analytics in place, if we can truly understand and attribute a value to every bit of marketing we do, then we can make smarter, cost-effective decisions which is key when there’s overall market uncertainty.

SEO experts on how they navigate uncertainty now & what their next steps are

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