10 Reasons SEO Doesn’t Work

When the Internet was all new and shiny it was easy to get almost any website to rank well in Google. There was a tested and proven formula of tagging the site correctly, adding relevant keyword rich content and submitting the new site to the search engines. Then you just had to sit back and wait.

These days it’s not so simple and the search engine optimisation  (SEO) industry developed because of that and because being on the first page of Google (or better still listed first) for key search engine terms is essential if you want to get business online.

For a while SEO seemed to work so companies with deep pockets could pour money into their strategy and they did. Everything was fine until Google made big changes to how it ranks websites and it stopped working.

Last week I spoke with a business owner who’s still spending $1,500 every month on SEO but, although he still ranks well for his search terms, the results of that expense are declining. No one wants to waste money on marketing strategies that don’t work so let’s look at the rise and fall of SEO.


1. Too much competition

There are so many websites online that it’s almost impossible to get on the first page of Google. There’s no magic bullet and even completing all your metatags in the right way won’t help because metatags have been overused for the last 10 years

2. Directory sites get listed first

Directory sites like TripAdvisor, True Local or Urban Spoon bump listings for privately owned businesses down the page.

3. Bad SEO practices

There are too many bad SEO companies using terrible strategies that damage the companies who hire them. One of the  worst strategies they use is adding spam comments to blogs.

For example, here’s  a spam comment I got on my travel blog Get In the Hot Spot last week on a post which was entirely unrelated to the blog post:

Name of Commenter: Sydney Harbour Charter Cruises

Comment: http://www.sydneyharbourchartercruises.com.au/

Sydney’s most luxurious catamaran, ideal for private charters, conference dinners and harbour transfers. Packages includes menu and beverages.

I’m sure Sudhir Warrier, the Executive Chairman at Australian Cruise Group, would be devastated to know that his team or contractors are ostracising the blogging influencers who could be highly valuable to help market the business.

4. Google crack downs

It’s those type of bad practices that have forced Google to crack down on other bad strategies like creating hundreds of incoming links on directory sites or adding multiple postings to press release sites.

Incoming links used to be a great indication for Google of how good a website was until SEO companies started gaming the system, often by buying this type of link. But Google can detect spammy incoming links so there is no point paying for them and in many cases it will actually harm your chances of ranking well.

Now Google is looking for other more trusted and less easy to game ways of working out how to rank websites.

5. Guest posting restrictions

As a well known blogger I get hundreds of requests each week for people to have guest posts on my blog. That means people want me to publish their article on my blog because an incoming link will help their search engine ranking.

But good bloggers are besieged by these requests and will only post content from people they have a personal connection with. Once again companies who use this approach can end up turning off the influencers they’d love to work with.

6. Expense of sponsored blog posts

Some companies try to buy incoming links by paying for sponsored blog posts but good bloggers will only write sponsored blog posts for brands which are a good match for their readers and will charge a reasonable rate of $1,000-3000 per post.

Agency or SEO company fees may be 50% of that fee so the company is paying a high fee just for one incoming link but often they have no idea this is happening because the company keeps what they do shrouded in mystery because Google penalises companies who buy links.

8. Google Local listings push organic listings down the page

Previously if you ranked number one in Google for a keyword your listing appeared right at the top of the page just under the paid advertising.

Now organic listings are often shown under what Google calls the seven pack – the seven local businesses with a well completed Google local page who have a red pin on the map on the right hand side of the search engine results.

In this screen shot of a Google search for ‘Hastings Street Restaurant’ you can see directory sites like Noosa Tourism, TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon take the three first listings. Then immediately under those listings we see the seven pack of businesses with pins showing their location on a map. The organic listings have been shunted down the page below the seven pack so anyone who has spent a lot of money in SEO is now getting nothing from that investment.

If you do a Google search for something like ‘restaurant + place name’ you can see directory sites like TripAdvisor and Urbanspoon take the three first listings. Then immediately under those listings we see the seven pack of businesses with pins showing their location on a map. The organic listings have been shunted down the page below the seven pack so anyone who has spent a lot of money in SEO is now getting nothing from that investment.

9. Consumers are time-poor and impatient

People are more and more impatient and prepared to click less and less to get what they need.

If a listing shows up for a Google Local page it will have a phone number displayed right there in the search engine results so people don’t even need to visit a website.

If a company had five stars under its name and a phone number right there in the search engine results people can contact them immediately. So your Google Local listing and optimisation of that page are now more important than website SEO.

10. People trust reviews more than any other type of marketing

People trust reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation from someone they know. So online reviews are more powerful than any other form of advertising or marketing including SEO, Google ads, TV advertising or even your email newsletters.

Knowing all this it’s easy to see why SEO is dying fast and review marketing, which is based on getting, managing and marketing five star online reviews, is taking off.

Here in Australia we trail behind the US by about 12 months in online marketing developments but since reviews heavily influence how people choose businesses online that’s where the future and power of Internet marketing lies.

SEO is old hat. These days review marketing is where it’s at.

To learn  more about Review Marketing and how you can use your glowing reviews to win more business contact us now.

Got questions or thoughts about this blog post? Leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to reply.