I don't know if many people became SEO experts because they planned ahead and thought that SEO careers are relatively stable in the long run, especially when compared to other business areas, or the reasons to make a career in SEO were completely different, but my feeling is that SEO experts are lucky now. Why? Because while the recession makes many industries wrench in pain, many SEO professionals are in top financial shape and full of optimism for the future.
It will be an exaggeration to say that the SEO industry doesn't feel the recession. This is not exactly so but when compared to industries such as automobiles, newspapers, banking, real estate, etc., SEO looks like a coveted island of financial security. This doesn't mean that there is no drop in volumes and everybody in SEO is working for top dollar but as a whole the SEO industry and the separate individuals, who make their living in SEO, are much better than many other employees and entrepreneurs.
What Can You Expect from Your SEO Career During a Recession?
The question about what realistic expectations are is fundamental. I bet there are people in SEO, who are not very happy with their current situation and blame the recession for that. Well, if most of your clients were from troubled industries (cars, real estate, financial services, etc.), then you do have a reason to complain. In such cases you should be happy if you can pay the bills. What you can do (if you haven't already done it) is to look for new customers from other industries.
Another factor that influences your expectations about your SEO career during the recession is your position on the career ladder. It makes a big difference if you work for a company or you are your own boss. Being an employee has always been a more vulnerable position, so if you expect job security, this is easier to achieve when you ares an independent SEO contractor. Mass layoffs might not the common for SEO companies but hired workers are never immune against it.
Additionally, your skill level also affects how your SEO carer will be influenced by the recession. The recession is not the right time for novices to enter SEO. Many people from other industries rush to SEO as a life belt. When these people don't have the right skills and expertise but expect rivers of gold, this inevitably leads to disappointment.
What Makes SEO Careers Recession-Proof?
So, if you are a seasoned SEO practitioner and you don't dream of rivers of gold, you can feel safe with SEO because unlike careers in many other industries SEO careers are relatively recession-proof. Here are some of the reasons why SEO careers are recession-proof:
The SEO market is an established market. If you remember the previous recession from the beginning of the century, when the IT industry was among the most heavily stricken, you might be skeptical a bit that now it won't be the same story. No, it is not the same now. SEO is not a new service anymore and the SEO market itself is more established than it was a couple of years ago. This is what makes the present recession different from the previous one the difference is fundamental and it can't be neglected.
SEO is one of the last expenses companies cut. SEO has already become a necessity for companies of any size. Unlike hardware, cars, not to mention entertainment and even business trips, SEO expenses are usually not that big but they help a company to stay aboard. That is why when a company decides to make cuts in the budget, SEO expenses are usually not among the things that get the largest cut (or any cut at all).
SEO has great ROI. The Return On Investment (ROI) for money spent on SEO is much higher than the ROI for other types of investments. SEO brings companies money and this is what makes it such a great investment. Stop SEO and the money stops coming as well.
Many clients start aggressive SEO campaigns in an attempt to get better results fast. During a recession SEO is even more important. That is why many clients decide that an aggressive SEO campaign will help them get more clients and as a result these clients double their prerecession budgets.
SEO is cheaper than PPC. SEO is just one of the many ways for a site to get traffic. However, it is also one of the most effective ways to drive tons of traffic. For instance, if you consider PPC, the cost advantages of SEO are obvious. PPC is very expensive and as a rule, ranking high in organic search results even for competitive keywords is cheaper than PPC.
Cheaper than traditional promotion methods. Traditional promotion methods (i.e. offline marketing) are still an option but their costs are higher even than PPC and the other forms of online promotion. Besides many companies have given offline marketing completely and have turned to SEO as their major way to promote their business and attract new clients.
SEO is an recurring expense. Many businesses build their business model around memberships and other forms of recurring payments. For you memberships and other types of recurring payments are presold campaigns i.e. more or less you know that if the client is happy with a campaign you did for him, he or she will return. Acquiring recurring clients is very beneficial because you have less expenses in comparison to acquiring clients one by one.
The outlook for SEO careers during times of recession is pretty positive. As we already mentioned, it is possible to experience drops in volumes or some of your clients to go the bankruptcy road but as a whole SEO offers more stability than many other careers. If you manage to take advantage of the above mentioned recession-proof specifics of SEO and you are a real professional, you won't have the pleasure to feel the recession in all its bitterness.