I know on this blog we often talk about how great search engine optimization actually is, without touching on the negatives for the most part. I’m aware that people looking to get into SEO should be taught the larger picture, and so in this blog post I’m going to break down some of the downsides (or negatives) to search engine optimization. By knowing these things, you can set yourself up for success and decide if this marketing channel is ultimately for you or not.
SEO Is A Lot Of Upfront Work, With Little Initial Reward
One of the downsides to SEO is that you put in a lot of time, yet you don’t initially see results. This can drive beginners crazy and be extremely demoralizing, yet it’s just how the search engine landscape works. Search engines need you to prove that you’re an authority in your niche to them, and this is done over time.
This leads to burnout and a massive amount of new SEOs not following through, leading them to fail. This is what causes many people to fail with things in life like business, weight loss, and other self-improving goals. If you don’t have the willpower to keep going, you’re going to have a bad time and SEO may not be for you.
It’s only when you have a mindset shift and see first hand that the process works that you can believe in it. And once you do that, it becomes way easier to write content, optimize your website, and build your authority online. If you work for an agency, or have the privilege of shadowing a mentor in this space, you have a HUGE advantage that most newbies don’t: you see what works and what doesn’t personally.
It’s Time Consuming
Proper search engine optimization takes a lot of time investment. I mean, a LOT. From this Quora thread, alone it seems that the average time it took to start seeing traffic was 6 months. Yes, I popped the posted amount of time into an average calculator!
Interestingly enough, this lines up pretty well with the old guestimate most SEO experts publicly give about how long it takes to start seeing results.
6 months to 1 year is the average for most websites.
But here’s the thing: If we look at the websites these people posted they were writing daily and weekly blog posts. That means you need to be strapped on and ready to do this consistently for a year without seeing results. And for most people that’s really hard, as I mentioned earlier.
But that begs the question…how long does it take to write a blog post?
Well, there’s not a single answer I can give you for this question.
There are several factors that affect how long it takes to write a piece of content, including:
- Your typing speed
- How long the content is
- How much research you have to do
- Optimization time
- Designing a featured image
- How experienced you are in your niche
- How complex the topic is
I can tell you how long it takes me, but keep in mind I’ve written over 100 of them and type over 100 words per minute (WPM.) I typically get a 1,200 word blog post done in around 30 minutes, not including research. It has to be a topic I know intimately.
If I’m doing research it’ll probably take around 1 hour to write a post that long.
But remember: not all of your posts are going to be that long or short. In fact, I just recently published a post that was over 6,000 words. That one I spent a few hours a day working on until it was complete.
The reason I’m able to easily do this is because I know what the results are going to be. By consistently publishing long, high quality content, I will automatically achieve my business goals over time. It’s easy to push yourself if you’ve seen firsthand the result.
You Have To Enjoy The Journey
I know this post is about the “downsides” of SEO, but I wanted to add a note about the proper mindset when approaching doing it. You have to be aware that search engine optimization is a journey, and instead of obsessing over the end goal enjoy it. If you are having fun, it no longer becomes work. Time flies before you even know it and you are one step closer to your goals.
I’ll usually blast music, relax, or listen to YouTube videos while I’m doing SEO. Granted, I know some people don’t multitask as well. But it helps me stay in a positive vibe and rock out while writing my content.
I talked about this before, but SEO is extremely technical. This can be extremely off-putting for newbies in this space. Not everyone is computer savvy and loves sitting at their desk all day.
If you don’t like working with technology, then SEO probably isn’t for you. I’m being serious here. You really have to go deep and absorb a lot of information to become good and fluent when it comes to search engine optimization. If tech frustrates you, this is going to be miserable for you.
Likewise, if you enjoy tinkering around with your computer or smartphone, this may be right up your alley. I’m telling you this so you understand exactly what you’re getting yourself into. You really have to have an in-depth understanding of how the internet works as a whole to be a good SEO.
This Is 90% Writing, 10% Optimization
This one almost nobody getting into SEO realizes. 90% percent of what you are going to be doing is writing the type of blog posts that you’re reading right now. Content is what brings traffic into your website from search engines. It builds authority with Google, and ultimately your website visitors too. This is how you convert them into paying customers.
I’ve gone into detail several times on this blog about the customer journey, and what content ultimately does for your business. I’m going to go on that spiel here. I have a great article I recommend you check out on why you need to have a blog.
The short and sweet version is that content is everything. Without publishing it, Google isn’t going to give your website a chance. You need to snag prospects while they are on the search results (SERPS) pages, and then bring them in to your website.
90% of my time is spent in Google Docs writing blog posts. This involves research, and the ability to write informational content in a way that others can easily understand. You’ll notice I try to write this as if I’m talking to a friend, and that’s the voice you need to have in your content.
Keep it simple, and make it so people can skim it. Some visitors may only care about a certain section of your content, and that’s okay. Understanding how users interact with your blog posts is also an important part of SEO. I have a table of contents and review system on this page for a reason.
You’re The One Responsible
People don’t want to hear this, but the minute you start doing a business’s SEO you are ultimately responsible for their marketing success. What do I mean by this…? Well, it’s simple.
If a business owner is paying you to do a service, you need to deliver. You need to have a gameplan of exactly how you are going to grow their business with Google. You need to be tracking your results and showing the business owner proof of work. Actually move them up in the search results.
Create content for them, optimize their Google My Business listing, take photos and geotag them. This is your job, and not delivering is a great way to ruin your reputation, deal with angry customers, and waste both your time and theirs. I’ve talked to aspiring SEOs who tell me “oh, I don’t care, I just want money.” That’s an absolutely awful way to approach this, and will 100% not be sustainable long term.
You Have To Deal With People
You may be great at SEO, but your clients are paying you for a reason. They don’t understand it. You need to be able to explain exactly what you’re doing in simple, non-technical terms that they can understand. This is part of being a good SEO.
Being able to show clients how this works, work with them hand in hand to create content, and really be on their team is what separates you from the rest.
I know a lot of people who are absolutely not a “people” person, myself included. I hate people and socializing, despite doing what I do. That’s actually the most draining part of SEO for me. I love working with technology, but people aren’t predictable like computers are.
This is definitely something to consider before getting into SEO.
I know I’ve harped on about the negative parts of SEO quite a bit in this article, but it’s important to understand why. SEO can be really tough for newbies as it’s a lot of work upfront with little visible reward in the distant horizon. But by sticking with it, you will inevitably achieve your business goals if you follow a proven plan.
To recap, the downsides to SEO include:
- Lots of upfront work
- It’s time consuming
- It’s very technical
- 90% of SEO is writing
- Responsibility for a company’s success
- Dealing with people
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