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Five Reasons You Should Not Invest in SEO This Year

by Matthew Riley  |  
March 7, 2016

Your SEO investment is wasted if it doesn't bring the right visitors to your website and convert them into leads or sales.

Moreover, driving traffic to a poorly optimized website becomes more expensive over time; you need to constantly find more visitors to make up for declining conversion and close rates.

This year, stop wasting time and money on SEO spending, and instead turn that investment toward increasing revenue from the traffic you already have.

Here are five reasons for not investing in SEO in 2016.

1. Search engine algorithms are adapting too quickly

For years, Google and other search engines used results algorithms that relied heavily on numeric ranking factors. When a company was looking to reach the top of a keyword's results page, those factors were fairly easy to manipulate.

Now those search engines have shifted their logic away from simple numeric factors that can be "gamed" and focus on the macro goal of returning search results that searchers most likely to want to see.

For example, Google's Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird updates, along with an increased emphasis on providing a strong user experience, have made gaming the system harder.

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Matthew Riley is CEO and co-founder of Swiftype, an Elastic company. Elastic builds software to make data usable in real time and at scale for search, logging, security, and analytics use cases.

LinkedIn: Matthew Riley

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  • by Dan Mon Mar 7, 2016 via web

    It doesnt look like you have been keeping up with SEO. Any decent SEO today balances UX and has conversions as the top KPI. Search Engines do adapt, but SEO strategy shouldn't be focused on gaming the system, but on an approach that will never be penalized by Google, which yes, is possible. Also, if a site doesn't have any traffic going to it, site search doesnt matter. SEO usually does not have diminishing returns, but instead gains momentum. I have never come across a company that had to decide between the two, but its apparent you are just trying to get people interested in your product.

  • by Stephen Mon Mar 7, 2016 via web

    Everything you suggest should be done, has its' foundation in Search Engine Optimization. SEO should not be about "gaming the system" such as " posting lots of low-quality content" Why would anyone suggest to post low-quality content. SEO is not about low quality it is about increasing the quality of your site's structure and content which is the foundation built from SEO.

    You can not convert traffic without traffic and if your site is not optimized it will not be properly indexed and will not show up the SERP.

  • by Madeline Anderson-Balmer Mon Mar 7, 2016 via web

    You say "Perform tests continually, so you are always adjusting and improving your website." In fact, that's search engine optimization (SEO). You're constantly reviewing your sites to make certain that people find you. And not just "any" people, but the people who are going to find your site and want to do business with you. Whether you do it yourself, or pay someone else to do it for you, you're investing in SEO. Sure its frustrating that Google changes their algorithms constantly, and that SEO isn't a "set it and forget it" kind of thing. But in fact, as the market changes, websites need to change. There is no easy/fast fix, and if you try to game the system, you deserve to be penalized. True attention to content, site usability, keywords that flow within content, etc. are ways to boost what your site experiences on the web. Focus on the incoming traffic, and maximize that, but not by ignoring how your site is perceived by the search engines. Building site traffic and maximizing the quality of that site traffic is a very important aspect to doing business online.

  • by Jason Darrell Mon Mar 7, 2016 via web

    Oh, wow. Your ignorance of what SEO is, has been and where it's going dictate that you should never, ever write an article with SEO in the title again.

    What happened to the editors at Marketing Profs? Don't they check the validity of the content before it's published? Two words: email clickbait

    I'd strongly suggest revising this before it gets ripped to shreds - and I am going to share it with fellow data scientists. If they have the time, duck.

  • by Ben Mon Mar 7, 2016 via web

    We believe that while SEO is an important marketing strategy, there are many marketers whose mature SEO programs aren't delivering the results that they're looking for. After speaking with Swiftype, we've found that part of the reason is because they're not implementing basic SEO principles and practices correctly. Another reason is because they're not allocating as many resources towards optimizing the traffic they bring in from SEO. For these marketers, it's important to have an effective combination of SEO and site optimization. Feel free to email me at if you'd like to discuss.

  • by Deekron Tue Mar 8, 2016 via web

    Awesome. I've been telling my client this for a while. SEO is a more advanced marketing channel should only be done if the website and conversion process are optimized for it. Otherwise, it will not be effective (for the reasons you mentioned).

    And for all the naysayers poo-pooing this article, I bet at least half of them have never optimized a website and SEO to the point of driving new leads and converting them to sales. They're just speaking about SEO in broad, generic or theoretic terms, which helps no one.

  • by Madeline Anderson-Balmer Tue Mar 8, 2016 via web

    Actually, I have optimized a website for sales and converted leads. If you're using a system like adwords, and your site is not optimized for keywords, you're going to pay more for your advertising. Taking one step at a time is important. Having systems in place to actually USE the leads when they come in is also important, but just plain ignoring SEO because you have bigger fish to fry isn't a great approach, and can cost you more in the long run. At least from my experience.

  • by Clay C Mon Mar 21, 2016 via web

    I'm always hesitant to post that I think a piece is poorly conceived but... this piece is poorly conceived. As a person who has optimized many, many sites for retail sales and lead generation: items #1 and #2 rely on defining SEO as a set of tricks. #3 is not prevented by SEO. #4 is true if you focus SEO on ultra-high level keywords but is definitely NOT true of SEO focused on long tail, high conversion keywords. #5 Ė can you share statistics supporting the %3C%3E comparison?

  • by Taylor Tue Mar 22, 2016 via web

    Did anyone else notice something fishy...?

    The whole article builds and builds and builds, stating all of these very poor 'Reasons', and then what is Reason number five? Boom, a call to action: Invest in a search platform for your website. Guess what the author does for a living? He's a CEO of a company that developed a search platform for websites.

    I didn't really agree with your points up until that point, but that really shot your credibility, unfortunately.

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