7 Reasons Why SEO Can Be A Blackhole Of Time & Money

Adrian Tan
I am an online marketer with more than 8 years of experience and I have a love hate relationship with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). No doubt it is a good marketing tactic but let me take you through how doing SEO for some of my clients became a sucker of time and money for both parties. 


Here are 7 reasons why:

#1 Having to explain SEO in excruciating detail to the management 

I start projects trying to find out what keywords I should optimise for top positions. These keywords would have to be related to my company’s business and have significant volume of people searching for them. To get some quick wins, I will be careful to steer clear of broad keywords dominated by the likes of wikipedia, major players and entrenched competitors. One of these lists came up to:

My Preferred Keywords My “Avoid at All Cost” Keywords
online marketing singapore
online advertising singapore
google adwords agency
google analytics certified partner
singapore advertising
singapore marketing
advertising agency

*if you have not noticed, one of my first clients would be my own company – clickTRUE

Guess which list the management came up with themselves for my “consideration”. Many sessions (most of them filled with angry emotions) were spent by me explaining in excruciating detail why Google would not easily allow anyone to rank for the generic keywords. I had to bring in theories of competition and basically dissect what then was known of Google’s ranking algorithm for them.

#2 Being the office boy between the web developer and the website stake-owner

Getting through the hurdle of determining the keywords, I would then look through the client’s website content and amend their meta descriptions like the page titles and headlines to include the selected keywords.

This seemingly simple task is in fact sometimes an insurmountable obstacle because:

  1. The website is usually not owned by the marketer but by the corporate communications person or even the sales team and I will have to run around to update eveyone;
  2. The website owner usually does not know how to make changes to the website and has to get the web developer to do it;
  3. The web developer is sometimes a vendor that charges for changes. Website owners may need to get budget at this point…a different long drawn procedure;
  4. Sometimes, the web developer is overseas or a freelance person whom the website owner has lost contact with. Time wasted on waiting;
  5. The web developer is irritated that he has to implement things that are out of his job scope and requests that all the proposed changes be consolidated;
  6. I know the changes will be ongoing but press on with what they have just to get things started
  7. Go into a loop between steps 3 and 6.

#3 Having to debate the intricacies of the English Language 

New and fresh content is a powerful weapon in getting links on the search engine’s first page. However, you can expect clients with poor SEO to have a sparsity of relevant articles and pages.

What I did not expect after coming out with content recommendation and headline ideas is to go through gruelling debates with the client on how the English should be appropriately written.

I recall the sessions in which I was lectured about the proper use of adjectives and preposition. Time in which both the lecturer and the one squirming could be better used for actual optimisation work.

#4 Navigating the murky waters of link building 

easy to find link building companies

Getting links from directories, blogs, forums and assorted sites is widely recognised as one of the no-brainer ways to get ranked. I was a believer then that quantity of links could replace quality.

And what better way for me to free up my time for strategising the next approach then to outsource this link building portion to some freelancer or vendor (usually located in another country with a lower cost base).

Well… there is always a twist. Soon I was getting reports that were practically indecipherable. Worse..the format of these reports kept changing. Changing vendors did not improve things.

I was no longer in control of what these contractors were doing with my clients’ links. Were they putting them on blacklisted sites? Are they using link farms?

Frantic calls and meetings were made to help these contractors organise their link building activities  and many hours were spent checking through the quality of these sites with the clients. Costs also escalated as we eventually brought the link building in-house (done by the client’s team themselves).

#5 On 24-hour call as the boss constantly checks the rankings

My clients will then start getting calls from their bosses at random during the day. Why? The bosses are usually equipped with top tier data plans that allow them to Google their keyword on their devices anywhere.

These poor marketers now have to drop tools and address their bosses’ feedback. Guess who these marketers call…me.

Thus, hours again spent checking these rankings and verifying that they are indeed at the terrible position that the boss thinks it is in and sometimes having to explain that search results are varied because the boss is searching from another country.

SEO reporting as hard as trench warfare

A silver lining is that at this stage, the marketer and I would have forged a bond hypothetically as strong as that of the soldiers in the trench warfare of WWI – no one else would be able to know our stress.

#6 Recovering from the realisation that ranked keywords may not give you returns

how long does seo take? very long

Would there be light at the tunnel if you successfully get the keywords ranked on page one? The answer is unfortunately no. Because the client would now be waiting expectantly for his business numbers to rocket because of their new found fame in the online sphere (as judged by Google).

I would have to break the news to them that ranked keywords do bring in more visitors but that is not a guarantee of more leads. I would start talking about Pay Per Click (PPC) Media and our Leads Generation Consultancy which would lead to …

Recriminations that I have misled them and that I should provide my Leads Generation for free.
More de-briefing, meetings, proposals, planning. Sigh.

#7 The impermanence of SEO rankings and a running battle to keep up

Yup, the title says it all. You will not have an unequivocal right to keep that first page appearance. Your rankings will change depending on what content your competitors and other sites put up. And of course Google can and will decide to change their algorithm to determine which web-pages are not favoured. No use crying “Not Fair!”

Then, how about pressing the SEO person to help you with restoring and maintaining your top positions? That means more money and time scoping out that next project with its attendant vagaries.


We know SEO is good.

Now we know SEO is not easy and can easily be a blackhole of time and money.

You need a scalable way to get leads to grow your business. 

My advice: find an agency that can provide Leads Generation Consultancy. 

This agency will want to understand your business and help you more as a partner than a vendor. They will help build you web-pages dedicated to selling your service or product (called landing pages). They will probably use pay-per-click advertising and other suitable channels. They will optimise their work via testing their hypothesis and ideas on increasing your sales. And they will know when their work is done and their services are no longer needed after building a way to get you leads constantly.

If you are not already aware, clickTRUE specialises in Leads Generation Consultancy. Learn how we could work with you here. Check out our approach and if you like what you see, send us an enquiry or just comment on this post!

photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, bmooneyatwork, Diego Sideburns via photopin cc

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