SEO can be a significant driver of a company’s sales and revenue, but only if done right. However, if you happen to get it wrong, SEO can be a futile and exasperating endeavour that only takes money out of your business.

Now, there’s no shortage of apparently helpful content out there on why you should use SEO to boost your sales and revenue, but in between the hype, you’ll also find a few sources that give you an honest account of what happens when SEO goes bust.

Instead of giving you a one-sided view, we’ve decided to take a neutral stance and give you both the advantages and disadvantages of SEO in the article below. We also have some useful tips that you can apply to spruce up your SEO strategy whenever possible.


Budgets are almost always out of whack, leading to either a surplus or a shortfall. While a budget surplus at the fiscal year-end might seem like a good thing, it can quickly turn sour once you start seeing the wastage that happens with funds that aren’t properly planned for. Now this can actually derail your SEO efforts altogether.

You see, when it comes to SEO, it’s important to keep your eyes on the ball and only focus on what’s important. A budget surplus almost always ends in unwise spending that slows down your ability to implement your SEO strategy because you’re distracted by all the extras.

Failure to execute on your strategy at the right time can prevent you from attaining that coveted spot on Google’s search engine rankings and you won’t be able to respond timeously to opportunities that arise.

If you’re in a competitive niche, it’s even more important for you to set aside a share of your budget just for implementation. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great your strategy is, it’s meaningless without execution.

Also, without accurate and up-to-date data, SEO cannot bring your company the results it deserves, and this comes at a cost. If you penny-pinch your way into SEO by hiring cheap SEO “experts” or you purchase needless data reports to make it look as if you’re doing something right, you won’t get any results.

Of course, if you’re on a tight budget, then you should look into alternatives such as paid ads, which offer a great way to drive sales and profits without all the inevitable complexities that come with SEO.

You can check out our in-depth article on how much to budget for your SEO campaign.

Phony KPIs

The following should not be your primary motivators for doing SEO:

  • PageRank influencing
  • TrustRank shenanigans
  • Keyword density
  • Anything that has to do with chasing phony rankings

Believe it or not, the above-mentioned tactics are a complete waste of time for anyone that genuinely wants to get a good web page ranking. Unless you’re working at Google Engineering, PageRank can’t do much for you because it’s an internal tool that’s used by a relevant department of the search engine.

In a nutshell, the above mentioned KPIs are a complete waste of time and shouldn’t be messed with if you genuinely want to improve your rankings.

Not only would you need massive databases in order to process the data needed to leverage these tools, but it would ultimately be a waste of money.

Managing Expectations

SEO is by no means an overnight success tactic. It takes massive amounts of time to research, plan, execute and report on it. In fact, it might take up to six months or more for Google’s algorithms to find your website and ultimately save the information it finds on your webpage to be used as a valuable source in its coffers of information. That’s why patience is key.

Unlike a well-placed TV commercial that may create instant leads; a sustainable SEO strategy cannot deliver those kinds of results simply because it works differently. And just as you cannot judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, you cannot measure SEO by the metric of another marketing channel. Each is different and will work to reach a different segment of your audience. If you like, you can opt for both and leverage their unique benefits instead.

Poor Business Model

Trying to patch up an innately poor business model with SEO tactics will simply not work. What SEO can do is to elevate an already effective business model to greater heights by increasing organic search visibility, and ultimately, your profits.

SEO cannot make your product more appealing or relevant than it is, and no matter how many times people see it, it simply won’t help to increase their desire to make a purchase. So make sure that you have a sellable product and a good business model first before you embark on an SEO initiative.

Following SEO Trends

As with anything, SEO trends fade into irrelevance over time, giving way to new trends and so on. So, going into SEO for the point of following trends is flawed logic that will yield nothing but losses in the long run.

That said, you will obviously have site releases and features from time to time which are geared towards achieving pre-planned goals. These should be centred on conversion growth and user experience enhancement.

Taking a proactive stance means that you will be able to develop and evolve organically over time. On the other hand, being reactive will leave you at the mercy of changing industry trends and it’s a strategy that lacks internal leadership, which is a dangerous position to find yourself in.

Plus, there are a lot of scams that you expose yourself to when you lack the sense of direction that comes from being proactive and you’ll easily fall for half-truths that pose as “the latest SEO hack.”

It’s interesting to note that while search engines only support technological innovation that’s useful to its users, content publishers that peddle bogus trends like accelerated mobile pages (AMP) always seem to make their way through to the general consciousness of the digital marketing economy. This is partly due to excellent site performance as a result of carefully applied (and very costly) technology.

The good news is that even the most budget-strapped websites can achieve similar results without losing control over their web content. However, trying to follow the latest SEO marketing shortcut is not the way to go about it.

Long-Term Investment

As with anything, there are pros and cons to SEO that you need to be aware of before you start implementing it as part of your strategy. However, just because you got burnt by a bad SEO agency before doesn’t mean that you should write SEO off completely. Perhaps that one mistake you made will help you succeed the next time around.