Posted March 16, 2011 4:45 pm by with 25 comments

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As an online marketing consultant I’m always preaching the value of SEO, but every now and then a website owner crosses my desk where I advise them to abandon their SEO efforts (cue the boos and hisses). I’ve compiled a list of the reasons I feel justify abandoning your SEO efforts and I hope it leaves you thinking about the value of all of your marketing campaigns and how they fit into your overall strategy.

1. None of your sales come from your website.

I have a friend who is a pediatric cardiologist. A while back he asked me if there was anything I could do for his website. I did some quick Google searches and his practice was ranking number one for most of his target keywords (there aren’t that many pediatric cardiologists in Austin ;). I asked him “do any of your patients ever say they found you on Google or through your website?”. His answer was “no”. His patients find his practice through referrals from other doctors. Let’s face it, most people aren’t going to choose a heart doctor for their child based on a Google search.

This scenario plays out across a large variety of businesses including specialized products and services where direct sales channels drive the majority of customer interest. For example, if you need a device to measure directional drilling for your oil rig, you’re not likely to fire up Google and start searching. You’re going to ask colleges, vendors or other trusted sources to find a solution to your problem.

For businesses offering specialized services and products where the very nature of your product dictates that people are unlikely to use search engines to find you, it’s time to abandon your SEO efforts. Start a small Adwords campaign focusing on exact and phrase match keywords specific to your service or products. Don’t sweat keeping up with algo changes, creating content and building back links. Capture the scant search traffic through PPC and spend the rest of your time focusing on sales channels that actually generate revenue.

2. You have a limited budget.

I guess this is a bit of a PPC / SEO purist issue, but if a client has a limited budget and needs results quickly, I typically advise them to abandon SEO and focus on PPC.

Sites with a lot of structural and code errors can be expensive to optimize for search engines and results can take weeks or months. If you have a working website and a limited budget, dump your SEO campaign and focus your spending on PPC. With ROI managed PPC you can start getting leads today without having to wait around for your site to start ranking well for organic searches.

3. You have limited time.

If you have limited time to dedicate to online marketing efforts, spend your time generating traffic through PPC or affiliate channels.

Set your bidding and offer strategies so that you don’t exceed your target cost per acquisition. If you’re forced to choose between strategies, go with a strategy that can generate traffic right away so you can fine tune your offer and turn your online marketing into a cash machine ASAP.

When you strike it rich and hire an assistant, then dedicate some time to SEO.

4. Your website has been banned.

Starting up that link building bot and buying links from seemed like a good idea at the time, but now Matt Cutts has found you out and has banned you from Google forever. Sure you can submit a reinclusion request, but let’s face it, that’s a battle you’re not going to win.

If you you’ve been banned by the major search engines it’s time to abandon your SEO efforts. As a matter of fact it’s probably time to abandon your whole site. This is tough news to hear, but accepting your fate now and moving on will help you regain your traffic that much faster.

So I hope I haven’t angered too many SEOs with my heresy, but when you get down to brass tacks many business owners need to adopt different strategies than we may be used to. If you run your own website, make sure to look at every marketing campaign you launch and make sure you ask yourself is it worth my money, is it worth my time, are there any huge obstacles and will I be able to get good ROI.

Note: Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Pilgrim.

  • you make valid points.

    #6 – when client sabotages all your seo efforts.

  • Kai

    Those are great points, David. I’d add one more: client is unwilling or unable to focus on optimizing their message and website. If it isn’t built for conversion they will be pouring a lot of money down the SEO drain. Not that I would necessarily advise them to ‘abandon’ SEO, but I would strongly encourage them to work improving conversion rates before generating more traffic.

  • SEO is definitely not worth it for some sites, especially when you take into consideration points 3 & 4. The advent of the farmer’s update is oingly going to make it more difficult for webmasters with a modest budget and not enough time. The supply of backlinks providers has decreased and you can bet your bottom dollar that the price of backlinks is going to jump up.

  • Hi David
    As much as it is sometimes painful to say I think you make some great points about why not all websites need SEO.
    I still think there are alot more websites out there that would benefit from some proper SEO.

  • Thank you for this insightful post…

  • Yes thats true that SEO always a great marketing alternative for many business and people have to think on other options. but there are verity of business where SEO can bring a massive change like Restaurants. My experience says that Restaurants present anywhere need SEO and Social Media to boost their sales.

    Great Read!

  • As an online marketing consultant I’m always preaching the value of SEO, but every now and then a website owner crosses my desk where I advise them to abandon their SEO efforts.
    Thanka You

  • I agree only partially with you but doesn’t it at least make sense to pave the way for the future? Right now the doctor may receive his referrals by other doctors, but what about the future? Things do change in health care, and SEO! (thanks google)

  • You have got valid reasons but still it is impossible to abandon such a growing strategy.This is very difficult.

  • I agree with the principle reasons here but I’m afraid that I would have to advise anyone that their website needs to have a basic level of optimisation i.e. structure, information architecture, meta tags etc in order to ensure a decent CPC – if no SEO consideration was given at all, the likelyhood is that the site will lack focus and structure and therefore will be penalised whatever.

  • I don’t know if I agree that websites should abandon their SEO entirely, but some sites could benefit from putting it on the far back burner and focusing their attention on other things. However, I think they need to have the basic site optimization in place, in case they ever decide to return to their SEO down the line. Sites shouldn’t disregard SEO entirely.

  • Nobody should ever abandon SEO completely. That Heart DR. you referred to might have someone searching for his phone number online and if his website is not there, or harder to find than he would be if he did SEO, than they might just find another DR. I like to have a website come up wen i’m seaching for stuff. I feel, if the company, (or person) is not on the web, then they lose my confidence in them are not worth me doing business with . It’s about perception, not necessarily always being at the top of the search engine. Without some SEO, he or any business can be losing customers because they don’t see them on google. Should he be spending thousands of dollars trying to beat google? no, but he should be listed for certain keywords someplace on google, no matter what.

  • These items seem very short-term sighted…. if you want to be successful long-term, you have to think bigger picture…. the last example, about having your site banned, that is a whole different ballgame.

    Instead of abandoning, why don’t you take time to think of ways you can still continue SEO efforts but do so in a way that works more within your budget/time. If budget is an issue, see what you can do cheaper and more efficient to help you from an SEO standpoint… if time is an issue, see what you can do either make your day more efficient or look to outsource to help.

    SEO is everywhere… Simply posting comments on articles you already read and having a link go back to your site is in essence SEO. Working with a client/vendor/customer and having them add a link to your site is SEO.

    Before you decide to just shut it off because you don’t see instant gratification, stop and take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You would be surprised that just a little every day can really reap rewards down the road.

  • Everything old is new again.

    I have been saying things like this for quite a while, through various channels.

    I’m very happy, on one hand, to see people really optimistic and putting in the efforts to be attractive to future customers. They are looking beyond optimizing for search engines and back to marketing for their clients. This can only be good for everyone, and bring things closer to that “global community” we were all promised so many years ago.

    I am also very sad for myself, I have spent years being told by my employer that “We can’t do those things because we’re trying to get our rankings back.” Did I say it too soon? It somehow feels as though I have lost some major personal battle.

  • Abandon you SEO….wow, David are you trying to end up on someones hit list…LOL. The crazy part is that you are absolutely right! Enjoyed the read.

  • Paul F

    Yeah! Abandon all SEO efforts…
    More room for a fellow blackhatter. These kind of posts should be encouraged. The less competition, the better.
    Your the man David !

  • you are perfectly right that in short term. you can never have returns from seo. moreover some company dont really reserch there websites need before they just start hiring companies for seo.we have a website that is a community social networking i would really love to know whether we should do seo for that or not

  • Almost bought some backlinks until i read this, I think i will stick to personally making my backlinks myself 🙂 great post thanks for the information.

  • Cynthia Boris

    I’d say it’s not so much about abandoning as it is learning that it’s not the answer to all your marketing prayers. I’ve worked with many clients who come is asking, do you know SEO? Can you fix my website? Or they ask me to pen a bunch of keyword heavy articles just to drive traffic.

    Instead of worrying about SEO right off the bat, they should be worrying about creating solid content.

  • This is very valuable information , and you made lots of valid points . Most People don’t know this stuff.
    Much Success,

  • I am not very savvy about SEO, but my clients sites seem to do very well in Search,
    according to the Analytics.
    But hey do not concentrate in any one area for promotion,
    rather operate with a very Broad Marketing strategy.
    Your 4 poin5s were very helpful and I will Share with others
    Thank You

  • One thing very important to remember is find a SEO consultant that has proven experience and references. Do not fall for black hat SEO which will eventually ban your site from Google

  • I really enjoyed this article and as a start up marketing consultant can testify to the benefits of PPC over SEO in the short term. So I would add another to your list …. when the marketplace you operate in is already over-crowded and to gain strong SEO you would need a website in excess of 25 pages!! Not only expensive but extremely time consuming!

    Thanks for your honesty .. it is refreshing!!

  • I don’t think he’s saying abandon SEO completely. It seems that he’s saying if any of those conditions exist, then SEO should be done away with. #5: When your client is completely unrealistic about the keywords they are targeting and are not willing to put any more on-page optimization to work. Thanks for the read.