Organic Search: The Annuity Of Your Marketing Portfolio


We get it — you’re constantly focused on proving the ROI that your marketing team is generating. After all, that’s how you earn incremental budget approval to expand your efforts. And we know you need to prove those results consistently — month after month and quarter after quarter.

In your efforts to consistently drive results, you, like most marketers, probably use a variety of tactics — a portfolio approach, if you will. In fact, you might think of it similarly to a financial portfolio, investing your marketing dollars in parallel to your personal financial planning.

Some assets are designed to provide immediate cash flow, while others build over time to provide a stable source of income for years to come.  For instance, the annuity.  The flashiest investment tool? No. But a stable, dependable, source of income, especially given some time to compound? Yes. With $65 million dollars projected to be invested into SEO in 2016, here are three reasons to make sure you invest smartly in the organic search annuity.

Annuity-Like Benefits Of Organic Search

  • Compound InterestRemember how powerful this is in your 401(k)? Well, it works the same way with organic search. Investing a portion of your overall marketing budget into organic search on a regular basis will drive increasing returns. Our clients see up to an average of 30% growth month-over-month*. Over time, that becomes an incredibly powerful growth tool. As with a financial investment, the degree to which you invest upfront will play a substantial role in how fast this snowballs. Can you invest $100 and have it turn into $1,000,000? Yes, but it will take substantially more time than if you initially invest $100,000.

    Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 1.47.54 PM

    The snowball effect works in multiple ways for organic search. First of all, the results themselves compound. As you create content that truly answers user questions, and then test and optimize based on user data, you should see that content begin to climb in the SERPs. Traffic grows asymmetrically with rank — according to Moz, the #1 result gets over 30% of clicks, #2 gets nearly 15%, and the top 5 results account for two-thirds of clicks. So with each incremental position you gain, your results grow faster and faster.

    Secondly, as you invest in building an organic search presence and promoting your content through influencer outreach, social, PR, and more, your website will grow its backlink profile and authority. Since more authoritative sites have a leg up in the SERPs, over time you’ll climb the SERP rankings faster and realize the “virtuous cycle” of organic traffic growth.

  • PredictabilityOrganic search (done right) is a highly predictable asset class. With a solid foundation of content artfully designed to address user intent, you should never see it vanish overnight. It probably won’t triple overnight, so if you’re focused on day-trading strategies that deliver an immediate boom (or bust), organic isn’t the right strategy for you. Just remember, high reward generally comes with high risk. Your organic search investment, on the other hand, will continue to grow and become a steady stream of traffic, leads, and revenue.
  • FlexibilityAs in your financial portfolio, having one predictable stream of growth gives you added flexibility with your other investments. With organic search driving a consistent flow of leads, you have more flexibility with, for instance, your paid search. Want to test a new campaign? Without a baseline of organic search, diverting funds from your tried and true tactics may leave your sales team without the inbound leads they love during your test. 

    But once you have another dependable source, you may be able to free up a portion of your budget to test other digital tactics. Same goes for those budget cuts. We all know that budget cuts often come at a paradoxical time — business isn’t as good as you’d like it to be, so marketing budgets get cut. If you’re heavily dependent on tactics like paid media, this can lead to a vicious cycle. Having a separate stream of inbound leads keeps sales moving even when budgets aren’t at their peak.

As In Finance, Diversification Is Essential

To be clear, the parallel to your financial portfolio continues when we advise you to diversify your assets. We would never advise you to take your entire marketing budget and throw it into organic search investments. Neither would we recommend a sole dependency on paid search, display ads, or any of the other tactics you’re using. Rather, we recommend thoughtfully evaluating your marketing goals and KPIs and allocating your budget accordingly.

Of course you need to keep in mind your short term goals. What do you need to deliver over the coming weeks and within the current quarter? But you also need to build for the long run. Organic search does not deliver overnight success, and anyone who tells you it does is probably not offering you the “right” kind of SEO. SEO is not a get-rich-quick scheme, and anyone who tells you it is should be thought of as a slimy financial adviser. But when we talk about the “long run,” we’re not talking about a far-off day that you’ll never reach.  

Don’t Set It And Forget It

As with your investments, you need to keep a pulse on how they’re growing and modify your approach based on external factors. If you’re investing wisely into organic search, testing and tweaking your approach, and monitoring it accordingly, you want to know how you’re pacing against clearly outlined goals.

Early indicators of success begin with crawl paths and move to indexed pages and ultimately a number of keywords you’re ranking for. This part can happen in weeks, not months. Ongoing traffic reporting should show you that you’re beginning to gain traction (and some traffic) within a month or two and real value within approximately a quarter. You’ll begin to realize the full value of that compounding growth within a few months.  And, as with your finances, you should always have visibility into performance.

Whatever your goals, your marketing portfolio, like your financial portfolio, should be revisited and rebalanced from time to time. In some scenarios, you may need to focus a bit more on the short-term results. But like a good financial planner, we at Demand Signals encourage you to keep an appropriate portion of your investments in the organic search annuity, to deliver consistent, valuable growth.

To learn more about how Demand Signals profitably, predictably generates organic traffic, contact us today.

*One real client’s results in year one.  Standard deviation in growth rate was 36%.

About The Author, Caroline Ferris

Caroline is the head of marketing at Demand Signals.  If you can’t find her at work, try one of the many playgrounds in the Raleigh area, where she’s probably on the slide with her two kids.