In the stock market, “bulls and bears” refer to trends (or the people that support those trends) as stock prices rise or fall. For example, if the market is on a general rising trend, it is said to be a “bull market,” and if a person is optimistic about the price of a specific stock, he is said to be “bullish” on it. Bearishness, conversely, is the belief or observation of prices going down.
The bulls and bears of the stock market have come to represent a degree of speculative uncertainty, forcing many investors and economists to either rejoice in the bounty of the market or wallow in the nightmare of it. It’s a little extreme in my opinion, but the stock market isn’t alone in these dramatic shifts of consumer opinion. Bulls and bears affect the SEO community almost as heavily.
People regularly shift their opinions on SEO as a strategy; some believe it to be highly cost-efficient, while others think it’s a spammy, temporary strategy that will turn out to be a waste of time once the trend becomes obsolete, and both are subject to switching sides or landing somewhere in between. The same can be said for individual components of SEO, like link building or social media marketing.
SEO is particularly vulnerable to these dramatic reactions for a number of reasons:
Because of these qualities, SEO is an industry especially vulnerable to sudden shifts in the hopes and fears of its constituents.
Like I mentioned earlier, these opinions do tend to manifest themselves in the form of reactions against individual strategies:
The list goes on and on, but the basic story is the same: a new update or piece of information enters the fray for a given strategy (or subset of a strategy), and anyone who reads that information shifts their opinion, if only slightly. Collectively, this results in broad reactionary trends similar to the “bulls and bears” of the stock market—suddenly everyone’s excited or everyone’s worried.
There are three reasons why you shouldn’t concern yourself with these sudden shifts in trends:
As a member of the SEO community myself, I encourage you, me, and SEO experts everywhere to have more tempered expectations about SEO. SEO will never stay the same—it’s going to grow, and change in ways we never expected, but it isn’t going to up and disappear one night, nor is it going to suddenly skyrocket in value. It’s a reasonable, cost-effective strategy, and will continue to remain as one for the foreseeable future, even as circumstances and strategies surrounding it iteratively evolve.