There’s nothing I enjoy more in the morning than waking up, getting me a delicious bowl of Shredded Wheat and putting on the idiot box to gaze at the daily doom report some people like to call the stock market.
However, this morning, something struck me; these red and green lines tracking stocks are kind of like one of our SEO reports. As much I don’t want to tar our already-tarnished-enough industry with the same brush used to paint horrific pictures of those ‘orrible city slickers who bankrupted the world by investing in speculation, SEOs and stock brokers aren’t so different. Except stockbrokers have nicer cars. And better haircuts.
Apart from that, though, we aren’t so different. In this post, I’m going to look at how an SEO can apply the basics of stock trading – assessing market trends, investing in stocks based on information, speculation and predictions – to a link building campaign.
By that, I don’t mean wasting thousands of pounds on useless links but rather how market trends can inform the types of links you go after with your content and even help you get the jump on a competitor.
The Safe Bet
Stock investors playing ‘the long game’ will usually invest in a base of ‘safe bet’ shares – like shares in Apple, for example. In the same vein, a linkbuilding campaign (in itself a ‘long game’) should be based on a base of ‘safe links’, the kind of bloggers from whom links will always be available and a constant source of traffic. These will generally be from your target audience and your business’ client base.
There are obviously some bigger wins to be had the more you invest time-wise, but on the whole, you should be able to get regular links from those whom your client is primarily targeting.
A well-publicized example of the ‘safe bet’ in practice is the Cambridge Satchel Company, who target fashion bloggers with their products and who happen to be the subject of a UK TV advert for Google Chrome.
However, this is the group that will also be targeted by all of your competitors, essentially giving you the same base to work from (assuming their content is of the same quality as yours)…
In order to avoid stagnation, it’s important to get links from new sources, which is where monitoring market trends comes in. Stock traders are constantly monitoring markets in order to determine where the next big investment opportunity is coming from, and you can do the same!
Obviously you won’t benefit from the Financial Times or Wall Street Journal for your personal link speculation, but setting up Google Alerts for your keywords, monitoring your keywords on Followerwonk and using SEOMoz’ fancy new Just-Discovered Links report feature in Open Site Explorer to identify fresh links can all help identify any new sources of links – and any patterns that suggest a trend – that may be emerging.
For a real world example of this in practice, look no further than the master of unusual uses, Kool Aid. A powdered drink from the US, Kool-Aid is enough of a cultural icon to garner links from big news sites – in part thanks to the appearance of Kool-Aid Man on ‘Family Guy’. But amongst the news links and food blogs, you’ll find some other, less obvious links:
Fashion and art are two bizarrely common trends in the Kool Aid link profile; fashion because Reebok released a line of Kool Aid inspired trainers and art…well, because you can make paint with Kool-Aid. The ways to capitalize on this are endless; Kool-Aid art competitions, anyone? Guides to customizing clothes with Kool-Aid? The potential audience, and number of new links, is massive.
A quick word of warning; should this group’s interest in a product have been widely publicized through a news site or similar, it’s likely to spark a mad rush of link-chasing among your competitors. The earlier you can identify new markets, the better. Which leads us on to…
The Early Investor
The dream of any good stock trader is to invest in a low-cost stock and see its value skyrocket. In fact, it’s the whole point of the stock game. This can also apply to link building, albeit in a slightly different manner.
Let’s say your client has identified a slight trend in interest from a certain demographic but it isn’t widely known. A link builder has two choices. The first is to start pushing content and building links from blogs in that demographic straight away, at the risk of the ‘trend’ being an anomaly and the links thus not having much value (at least in terms of traffic) or relevance in the future.
The other option is to sit back and wait, monitoring the trend using Google Alerts and Just-Discovered Links and keeping in touch with your client to see if there are any further instances. Once you feel you’ve got enough evidence to suggest a correlation, start pushing out content and attempting to build links. Timed right, you’ll have built links that’ll inflate in value over time.
As an example, let’s say an entirely fictional cleaning supplies company started noticing a few orders from hairdressers who have identified a particular brand of bleach as a cheap way of dying hair.
We could either choose to start building links based on this and hope that the orders are indicative of a new trend and haven’t come from a niche group of psychopathic hairdressers or wait until we’ve got more data to prove a link between hairdressers and cleaning products. This data could come from conversions or by using Google Analytics (or your analytical tool of choice) to monitor incoming search terms with ‘[brand of bleach]’ and ‘hair dye’ in the query.
The Get In, Get Out, Get Rich
To supplement long term investments, stock investors will usually invest in shares surging in value due to an event and sell them relatively soon after in order to turn a quick profit. The ‘link’ equivalent of this practice would be building links based on news interest in your client’s particular industry – even if that news isn’t necessarily related to what you do.
A pertinent recent example of this in practice is Mini Cooper’s recent ad campaign capitalizing on the UK horse meat scandal, which played on the fact their ‘beefy’ (as in powerful) new Mini has a lot of horsepower.
Unfortunately, the Mini ad was print only. But imagine if they’d have produced it as a shareable, linkable graphic. They’d have hit it big judging by the sites covering the ad and the amount of conversation it generated on social media…
The Aggressive Takeover
With the economy like it is (thanks to those darned bankers and speculators), many businesses are going to the wall. While most businesses have their assets sold off in order to recoup as much value as possible for creditors, there is one asset that remains for an online business – links.
Using Open Site Explorer, take a regular note of the valuable links your competitors have. It may come to nothing, but should that competitor cease trading, you can be the first to fill the link vacuum created by their departure by pitching your content or services as the perfect replacement for now-dead links.
And there you have it; SEO tricks we can all learn from some of the greediest men and women on the planet (apologies non-greedy stock investors!). Let me know if you implement any of them and how you get on!
Image Credit: Matthew Knott on Flickr