Blog Post

When to Avoid SEO

July 12, 2016
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The many benefits of SEO are undeniable. From a noticeable increase in traffic to its cost-effectiveness, I could literally go on all day providing reasons why SEO will have a profound impact on your business. But I’m going to switch gears here and provide some insight into situations when companies should avoid investing in SEO… at least for the time being.

I know what you’re thinking: “This guy is a founder of a company that specializes in SEO services… what’s his motive?” I promise I’m not here to give you an ironic list that clearly points to why you actually should invest in SEO. I realize that some businesses actually wouldn’t benefit from SEO marketing services, and I want to save those businesses from wasting time and money on SEO when those resources could be utilized on a different channel that would serve your business better. So, if your company fits into any of these categories, I would consult an expert before investing in SEO.

You Need Immediate Results

This one is a no-brainer. SEO is not the channel to turn to if you want to quickly increase sales to meet your monthly quota. It usually takes several months to start seeing results from your SEO efforts. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and the timeline depends on a variety of things including:

  • How long your website has been around
  • How much SEO you’ve previously done
  • How much content is on your site
  • What your website’s link profile looks like

For the sake of time, we usually tell clients that it takes about four to six months to start seeing results in the form of increased rankings, increased traffic, and ultimately e-commerce revenue or lead generation. So, if you need tangible results within the next three weeks, I suggest investing in a Paid Media strategy instead.

SEO services

Your Customers Don’t Search For Your Offerings On Search Engines

There are some businesses that simply won’t benefit from SEO regardless of how reliable their strategy is. This is because people don’t search for certain products and services online.

Think about it: products like gum, soda, water, or a comb or hairbrush. These are convenience products that don’t usually require much consideration before buying. They are cheap and can be purchased pretty much anywhere.

As a result, people typically aren’t going to do much (or any) research before purchasing. This is the reason why 5 Gum spends billions of dollars on television advertising, but when you type “gum” into Google, it doesn’t even appear on page one. In fact, only two out ten results are actually chewing gum brands. The rest of the results are about dental health.

Local Pages Would Be More Valuable

If you are a small localized business, a broad strokes national SEO campaign is not going to be the right fit for you, probably for obvious reasons.

If this is not so obvious, consider, for example, your local gym – an average business that serves people within the immediate vicinity.  Your local gym would not benefit from ranking for the keyword “gym” nationally (for the most part). Sure that would be cool, but what happens when people in New Jersey want to visit your local San Diego gym? In this case, you would have a lot of unqualified visitors who can’t convert due to geography.


Instead, these businesses should focus on making sure that their NAP information is correct. NAP stands for Name, Address, Phone. If this information isn’t correct or you haven’t claimed all of your listings on these sites like Yelp and Yellowpages, you are missing the opportunity to rank higher on these sites. In addition to claiming your pages and correcting all NAP information, you should monitor your online reviews. A negative review can turn a potential customer off and push them right into the arms of your local competition.

Startups With New Innovative Products Or Services

I speak with a lot of startups in my profession from bootstrappers to seed funded, and many of them are interested in SEO. For any new business with a new website, SEO is going to be tough because you are starting from scratch. With a new website, you start with very little authority or trust from the search engines and must earn it over time to rank organically.

Startups typically need to be nimble and have some quick wins in sales. Unfortunately, SEO is about the investment and building the long term return. For startups, I typically recommend paid ads from Adwords and Facebook along with retargeting to get their products and services out there on the web and make their brand more sticky for people to begin to recognize it.

One last thing to consider as a startup, is your product or service completely new to the market? If your answer is “yes” and nothing else exists out there like what you just invented SEO is not for you.

This is for the simple fact that if you are innovating a new industry or selling something no one has ever heard of, there will not be search for it online yet, right?  Once again, if you are defining a new market segment, there will not be search for it because you just invented it! So, you need to seed the market and make them aware of your new product or service before they can start to run search queries around it. Here lies an awareness problem with SEO. Social media is great for awareness and building a list/audience of people is a great way to get people buzzing about your new concept and influencing new search results around it.

Closing Thoughts

While there are very few reasons not to get started with an SEO strategy, these are a few to watch out for. SEO is still a foundational piece of any digital marketing strategy, but it does not always need to be the frontrunner leading the charge.

As a reader, can you think of any other situations when SEO would not be a fit for a business’s online strategy?

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