What Are The Disadvantages Of SEO?

We’ve always shouted about SEO from the rooftops, and for good reason. SEO has its merits. Appearing at the top of the search engines can be well worth the investment, but there is always a danger in SEO, or indeed with digital marketing, that nothing is guaranteed. We’ve explored countless topics around the advantages and tactics you can use to massively improve your SEO. Let’s take a look today however, at the other side of the spectrum, and try to understand the full picture. Here’s an overview of the disadvantages of SEO.

The Disadvantages Of SEO

Mercy Of The Algorithm

While you may own your website, you don’t own the search engines. Ultimately your SEO strategy wholly relies on them to rank your content. If tomorrow Google decides to launch a massive SEO update, and it completely relinquishes some of the work you’ve done to rank well, there’s nothing you can do. Google does regularly update its algorithm to ensure nobody cheats the system. There are also occasionally major updates that can drastically alter your performance. You have to constantly be aware of Google’s upcoming algorithm changes, and plan or adapt adequately!

Resource Intensive

While some strategies can largely run themselves, SEO takes a sizeable time investment to get your content to pay off. An email strategy, for example, you can run in the background, but if you’re not creating content, your SEO strategy isn’t really improving. To get decent rankings in the first place you have to invest a lot in your website and your content. From that point Google does its job and ranks you, but if you want to keep moving forwards you need to then create more. Google doesn’t reward you for simply being there a long time, you have to work for it. 

SEO Resource Intensive

Results Are Not Instantaneous 

SEO is not the fastest moving channel. While results can be quicker than some other channels, you’ll never be able to compete with something as fast and aggressive as paid ads, for example. Firstly it takes a decent time investment to make content in the first place. You then have to edit, optimise, and upload everything, From there content then has to be crawled and indexed. While this stage of the process can be relatively quick (days to weeks), it isn’t going to deliver you any results tomorrow.

SEO Is Competitive

In quite a contradictory fashion, the very fact that SEO is such a great channel for lead generation, makes it a disadvantage, due to the competition that exists. You may get lucky and have a niche sector advantage that isn’t as competitive, but generally SEO is very competitive. The amount of time and money you have to invest to rank well for certain key terms can be far beyond what most businesses can afford. Large businesses with seemingly infinite resources will struggle less here, but generally smaller businesses will find it far more difficult to compete with generalised key terms. 

SEO is competitive


Unlike many other channels there are a lot of penalties that exist within SEO for doing something poorly. It’s quite simple to fall into following blackhat SEO practices, which can incur some pretty severe penalties against your website. Ensuring following proper protocol around SEO is critical. 

 Long Term ROI

If you’re looking for a short term return on investment then SEO will likely not deliver the results you’re looking for instantly. When you optimise your site it will continue to deliver results consistently for a long period of time. However, if you’re putting in both time and money resources to see an immediate impact, you’ll likely be disappointed. SEO can generate results months to years after you initially put the work in. That is a great thing from a lead-gen perspective, but from a purely ROI perspective, be prepared to be waiting to see your investment in full. 

Out Of Your Control

SEO is not a guarantee. For starters, basically half of SEO relies on your domain authority, which is entirely dependent on other sites. You can invest in a PR strategy to generate a strong backlink portfolio, but ultimately there is always another party involved. There is no guarantee that after you put the work in you’re going to get ranked well, you don’t have that much control of your results. 

Final Thoughts

SEO is a critical part of many businesses’ digital marketing portfolio. It can deliver great results and become your best channel for lead generation. Try to avoid blackhat SEO mistakes, and be as aware as possible of best practices in the arena. Generally SEO will have a role for most businesses, but you should always be aware if there are channels that are better suited for what you need.

Is the market too competitive to rank well? Do you not have time to invest in content? Are other channels far more effective for you? You can’t always have all the answers, but avoiding mistakes and being aware of the disadvantages of SEO is a great place to start. If you’re looking for more information about SEO for your business, contact us here for a free consultation.