Is SEO More Volatile Than The U.S. Stock Market?

SEO and the U.S. stock market are not the same thing.  Not even close.  But there  is a big similarity between the SEO industry and the U.S. stock market that I’ve picked up on recently.  With Google’s recent algorithm updates, the discussions about the fallout in the SEO industry sometimes sound like we’re talking about the fall 2008 U.S. stock market crash.  Does anyone else get this feeling?  Allow me to compare apples to oranges for the next 400 words.

SEO & US Stock Market

There are two main points of comparison between search in 12′ and the 08′ U.S. stock market crash: volatility and fear.  Below I will point out how these two industries match up in terms of volatility and fear.

1) Volatility. Both search and the U.S. stock market have experienced stretches of volatility unheard of in most industries.

Percentage of search affected by Google updates

Panda 1.0 – 11%

Penguin 1.0 – 3.5%

Google’s Panda and Penguin updates worried a lot of internet marketers and businesses that rely on their search rankings.  After these updates, many internet marketing firms were left scrambling to ensure their current and past clients were not affected. This string of recent updates has certainly altered the landscape of the search industry and now, as a result, everyone is becoming more accustomed to volatility.  Being flexible and adaptable is the new mantra among leading internet marketers.

Largest single day changes in the Dow Jones Industrial Average

October 13th, 2008: +11.08%

October 15th, 2008: -7.87%

If you don’t follow the U.S. stock market, these numbers may not mean much to you.  However, these numbers reflect a staggering loss to those working in the industry and to most investors.  The New York Stock Exchange experienced Record volatility during the fall of 2008.  At lot of wealth was lost and the uncertainty of that stretch of time serves as reminder to how risky markets can be.

2) Fear. Articles and language around the SEO and U.S. stock market crises induce fear and uncertainty.

There are plenty of articles written referring to both of these events.  Many of those articles share the same emotional outlook: fear and uncertainty.  Here’s one example article about search and one example referencing the U.S. stock market. Just take a look at some choice words from these articles:

SEO changes

When fear, uncertainity, and doubt drive an industry’s conversation, it can affect the behavior and decision-making of industry leaders. This kind of negative language can also discourage customers  from investing in a product or a market that seems unstable.

Volatility in both search and the U.S. stock market has had some serious effects.  A lot of wealth was affected, either negatively or positively by the changes in the industry.

The biggest difference between the two industries going forward, is that Google has unprecedented control over the entire search and SEO industry. Google’s leadership position within the search arena has enormous implications that could bring on even more instability in the future. I think that difference alone makes search and SEO more volatile than the U.S. stock market.  What do you think?