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What Investing & Holding Stocks Can Teach Us About SEO

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Buying $1,000 worth of Apple stock in 1999 would be worth $177,943.07 today.

Buying $1,000 worth of Amazon stock in 1999 would be worth $45,942.49 today.

Creating and maintaining the #1 spot for the search traffic associated with the phrase “Sales Software” and other variations since 1999 would be worth $298,000 a year in traffic today.

In simpler words:

You would have to spend nearly $300,000 a year in Google Search Ads to generate the same amount of traffic that you would acquire by ranking & maintaining a piece of content that you created on the topic.

SEO isn’t for the short term CMO looking for a bonus or the company embracing a get rich quick and get out strategy. It’s best utilized by the companies that are built to last and want to unlock a competitive advantage that could offer growth stability for decades to come.

Let’s break this down with a real-world scenario…

The numbers I’m going to use in the example aren’t reflective of the actual search volume, monetary value or keyword variations associated with the example but are intended to offer insight into why content is a great long term investment.

I drew this on my whiteboard to illustrate the long term value of investing, updating and maintaining a single piece of content over time:

In the example above, I’m trying to illustrate how a single asset can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars if it’s a keyword that has high growth potential and has high-value intent.

This is the core reason why I believe SEO & Content can act as a competitive moat.

The graphic above illustrates a hypothetical situation wherein 1999 a brand invested ($7,500) in creating a piece of content that would rank for a phrase (let’s say “Sales Software”) which was generating roughly 5,000 searches in Google a month. This phrase wasn’t something that many people were looking for at the time and few content competitors existed trying to rank for the phrase. In the first year that content ranked top 3 and generated $500/month in revenue on the back of 5,000 monthly searches and ranking for 5-20 different keyword variations. In year one, that page didn’t generate any ROI for the company… It was a net loss of $1,500.

But in the years to follow, the content started to pay dividends.

Let’s say the brand spent $500 a year (or 3-4 hours a year) to keep it relevant, optimized and ranking. Over this time, the demand for “Sales Software” really starts to take off and the value of the content went up as it was leading to more transactions. By 2029, that original piece of content sits at the top of the search engine results page but is generating more traffic than ever before and ranking for more variations of the phrase because of increased demand.

One piece of content is now earning the company $40,000 a month with a lifetime cost of $62.50 a month. That’s the ROI of creating and holding.  

Now imagine what happens when an organization believes that content is the future and understands that more people will be searching for content in the future.

Rather than just creating one piece of content the brand creates 15 pieces of content that go after keywords that have a high potential for traffic & revenue. Instead of having just one asset, they have developed a content portfolio that is optimized for high-value keywords that the brand believes will have increased demand in the future.

Something like this…

A collection of content that costs $112,500 to create (let’s say $7500 per) in 1999 has the ability to generate $1.6M in value for the brand long term. That’s the power of a content marketing effort built on the back of keywords with increasing demand and terms with high intent.

It’s this fundamental understanding that has allowed companies like Fiverr, Stripe, Shopify & Hubspot all establish what we call SERP dominance.

SERP dominance is when a brand has invested so strategically into content & SEO that they have captured a placement in search results for the vast majority of search terms associated with their market and ideal customers.

In many industries, media companies dominate the SERP as they were early to recognize the value of organic traffic and the ability to turn that traffic into paid opportunities (ie. subscriptions, affiliates, emails, ads, etc).

It’s this commitment to SERP dominance that is going to give all of these brands separations from their competitors. It’s easy to say:

“Yeah, but they were early in the market. There are no good keywords to try and go after today or plan for tomorrow.”

But the reality is much different.

The reality is that Google has confirmed that 15% of searches are searches that have never been done before. That’s the opportunity. That’s where you can win.

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