Buy Low, Rank High: An SEO Investment Guide
Just as in the stock market, SEO rankings are characterized by constant ups and downs.
Picture this, you’ve got two charts in front of you: one displaying stock market trends, and the other mapping SEO rankings.
At first glance, they might look like they’re from different planets. (Or at least different floors of the office building.)
But look closer… and you’ll see they share a striking resemblance.
Volatility being the common denominator, these charts could easily pass for EKG readings—if you focus on the day-to-day or week-to-week swings. See one of the billion articles about “Why you shouldn’t look at your investment accounts every day“—it’s highly relevant here.
Just like your favorite blue-chip stock* SEO rankings too have their fair share of bull and bear moments.
(*Mine’s BRK.A, and no—I’m not being paid to say that.)
The point is, one day you can be basking comfortably in the top spot for a specific keyword, the next day you might find yourself tumbling down to the nether regions of Google’s search pages.
And the earlier it is in your SEO efforts, the more frequently these type of things happen.
So. What’s the smart play?
You guessed it—diversification.
Spreading your bets across a range of keywords, much like a well-balanced portfolio, can help you hedge against these SEO shake-ups.
By doing so, you avoid relying too heavily on the performance of a small set of keywords and increase your chances of ranking well for a broader set of search terms.
This approach also allows you to tap into a wider audience and attract more organic traffic to your site.
By diversifying your target keywords, you build a more resilient SEO strategy that can weather these constant short-term fluctuations in rankings.
It’s unwise to rely upon a small set of keywords for your organic traffic.
In the same way that a diversified investment portfolio can withstand the poor performance of a particular stock, because the other investments can balance out the losses, if one keyword’s ranking drops, you have many others that can still attract organic traffic to your site.
Influence of External Factors
Both stocks and search engine rankings are heavily influenced by external events.
For stocks, this could be economic indicators, geopolitical events, company earnings reports, etc.
For SEO, think constant Google algorithm updates, rising competition, or even shifts in user behavior.
It’s like your investments being affected by a surprise earnings report, or a change in interest rates.
These external influences can cause sudden spikes or dips, making both stock and SEO graphs seem to ‘react’ to events around them.
So, just as you’d adopt a long-haul view of your investments, SEO too demands a marathoner’s mindset.
While short-term movements might grab headlines, and maybe occasionally provide some insights, they more often often reflect transient factors and noise.
Real trends and significant changes in rankings, visibility, and organic traffic become apparent only over a longer time frame—months or years—rather than days or weeks.
“Targets of Opportunity” in SEO Strategy
Algorithm changes can lead to significant ranking fluctuations for certain keywords in the short term.
This can open up new opportunities to target keywords that were previously too competitive, or not as relevant.
It’s much like those undervalued stocks or surging sectors that might catch your eye.
Maybe Google decides to favor long-form content one day. Or, say, a global pandemic causes a temporary skyrocketing of kayak fishing gear-related searches.
Spot these trends early, and you’re all set to ride the wave.
- Leveraging Algorithm Changes: One day, an unannounced Google algorithm update might suddenly favor long-form content, opening up opportunities to rank higher for comprehensive guides or extremely detailed, in-depth blog posts. Similarly, Google might announce the next day that it has finished rolling out an algorithm update that prioritizes mobile-friendly websites. In this case, improving your website’s mobile responsiveness can help boost your rankings for a range of keywords. The following week, Google’s algorithm might start giving more weight to local search relevance, causing keywords associated with specific locations to shoot up in rankings.
- Adapting to Changing User Behavior: Trends in user behavior can create fluctuating opportunities. For instance, a sudden increase in remote working might (and in fact, did) cause a surge in searches related to kayak fishing gear. Recognizing this trend can allow you to target relevant keywords and align your content to match this changing demand.
- Seasonal Opportunities: Many industries experience seasonal fluctuations in search demand. Keeping with the fishing industry, tackle shops might see certain keywords spike during the holiday season, while fishing charter related searches could surge during summer months.
- Responding to Competitor Activity: If a competitor launches a successful campaign, keywords related to their products or services might start gaining traction. Instead of viewing this as a threat, see it as an opportunity. You can leverage this increased interest by creating high-quality content around these trending topics to attract some of this traffic to your site.
- Riding the Momentum of Rising Keywords: Suppose you notice a specific keyword starting to rise sharply in rankings. This could be due to a variety of factors, such as a change in user search behavior, a shift in industry trends, or an algorithm update favoring certain types of content. This presents a prime opportunity to double down on your local SEO efforts and capitalize on the increasing visibility of these rising keywords.
In the stock market, a savvy investor primarily commits to a diversified portfolio of stocks to safeguard their investments over the long term.
However, they also keep an eye on market trends and seize short-term opportunities when they align with their overall strategy.
The same principle applies to SEO: while the core strategy should focus on a diverse set of relevant keywords and going after them in the long-term, SEO professionals should also be ready to leverage short-term opportunities that can give their organic traffic a boost.
Balancing Stability & Adaptability
The underlying theme here is that SEO is dynamic.
Success doesn’t come from implementing a static set of best practices, but from being adaptable, looking for emerging opportunities, and capitalizing on them.
By being ready to pivot your strategy as needed, you can capitalize on changes in the SEO “market” and achieve measurable SEO success in the long-term.
While it’s essential to remain alert to fluctuating opportunities, it’s important to maintain a stable core set of long-term target keywords that are highly relevant and valuable to your business.
These keywords will likely be more difficult to rank for, so a balance will help ensure that SEO remains focused and effective while still being adaptable to the dynamic nature of search engine algorithms.
The Long Game: Importance of a Long-term Viewpoint
Remember, SEO isn’t about quick fixes (If you need that out of Search Engine Marketing, go for PPC management.)
SEO is about creating high-quality, relevant content that serves your audience and builds your brand authority over time.
Significant and meaningful changes in SEO take time to materialize.
Businesses that grasp this truth and integrate it into their strategies typically succeed, while those that chase after quick wins often falter.
- SEO and Time: The nature of search engines and their algorithms is such that they need time to crawl and index changes to your site, assess the value of your content, and ultimately adjust your rankings. This is not a process that happens overnight, within a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months. It typically takes a year, and sometimes longer, for the impact of SEO efforts to fully materialize.
- Short-Term Changes are Largely Meaningless: In the short term, you may see fluctuations in your rankings. One day you’re on page 1, the next you’re on page 7, and the following week you’re back on page 1. These changes are typically due to algorithmic fluctuations, competitors’ actions, or other transient factors. Overreacting to these short-term changes leads to erratic SEO practices, which are more likely to harm than help your long-term SEO performance.
- Long-Term Trends Matter: The real measure of SEO success isn’t where you rank today or tomorrow, but the trend in your rankings, visibility, and organic traffic over time. Have you moved from page 5 to page 2 in the last six months? Has your organic traffic increased year-over-year? These are the kinds of questions that matter in SEO.
- Success Follows Patience: Businesses that recognize the long-term nature of SEO and exercise strategic patience are usually the ones that succeed. They understand that SEO isn’t about quick fixes or gaming the system, but about creating high-quality, relevant, and valuable content that serves their audience and builds authority over time. They also understand that SEO is an ongoing process that requires continual optimization, testing, and refinement.
- The Pitfall of Short-Term Thinking: SEO professionals and businesses that focus too much on short-term changes often find themselves in a reactive, rather than proactive, stance. They are more likely to resort to aggressive tactics to achieve quick wins, which may not only prove unsustainable but often end up incurring penalties from search engines.
The Bottom Line
While it’s essential to monitor your SEO performance regularly, it’s equally important to understand that Search Engine Optimization is a long-term play.
Just like those lucrative compound returns, businesses that understand the essence of patience and long-term strategy tend to knock it out of the park with SEO.
By understanding the similarities between the market and SEO, we can better appreciate the need for a long-term approach, patience, and strategic focus in both investing and SEO.
Short-term ranking changes are a normal part of the process, and they should not distract from the big picture.
Instead of reacting to each spike or dip, it’s more beneficial to stay the course and maintain a steady, adaptable, strategic approach that aligns with long-term objectives.
So finally, don’t get spooked by those short-term swings in your SEO rankings—they’re pretty much part and parcel of the journey. What really counts is the trend over time.
The world of SEO, much like the stock market, is about making thoughtful decisions today that’ll set you up for success in the future. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your website won’t rank #1 on Google overnight either.
At the end of the day, whether it’s finance or SEO, the principles of success remain strikingly similar.