Ivan Temelkov
June 22, 2016

Why DIY SEO Typically Does Not Work

In some ways, I feel like the term SEO is heavily overused these days. After spending the last 10+ years working in the Search industry, it has become quite evident that SEO is used and abused. SEO pertains to an optimization method in the form of text, images, and video. The end goal is to acquire top rankings in the SERPs and generate more qualified inbound traffic.

Well, there it is. That was the truncated definition of SEO if you were unaware of its meaning. A vast majority of small businesses tend to give SEO a stab. Many of them fail in the DIY approach. It is largely due to the multi-faceted approach of SEO. A term that I believe may eventually be replaced with something more modern. In order to be successful with SEO it’s important to have a hybrid mindset. A successful modern Search Engine Optimization specialist should have basic to intermediate knowledge in the following areas:

  • Content
  • Interactive
  • Visuals
  • Code/Technical
  • UX/UI
  • Keyword Research
  • Branding


The above mentioned are extremely broad areas that an SEO specialist should be cognizant of when it comes to Search understand in general. The MOZ Beginner’s Guide to SEO or even Google’s Search Engine Optimization Guide are excellent resources for the novice, intermediate, and even expert Search specialist. I use both of these guides quite often to examplify the complexity behind SEO.

3 Reasons Why DIY SEO Fails

diy-seoI’m a firm believer in education, especially when it comes to the Search realm. Which is why precisely I enjoy blogging so much these days. It’s a great avenue to share thoughts and insights with others with the intent to educate and inform. The unfortunate part about this industry is the fact that many businesses have been sold snake oil. That and nothing more than false expectations and hopes. A good proportion of small businesses tend to turn towards DIY SEO because of this reason. Most small businesses have been misled, lied to, or they’re simply struggling from a budgetary standpoint. Therefore, many are unwilling to invest in an experienced Search Engine Optimization professional.

There are 3 common reasons I’ve noticed regarding why small businesses fail in DIY SEO efforts.

Lack of Value

SEO is difficult to quantify unless you operate an e-commerce storefront. Finding instant gratification in SEO is extremely difficult. If you operated an e-commerce storefront then you can at least correlate organic traffic to the number of sales you’ve generated. Using a basic ROI formula of Gross Profit – Marketing Investment / Marketing Investment can provide you with holistic understanding of the revenue you’ve generated from SEO. Now of course this is an ideal scenario that most small business do not operate within.

Undervaluing SEO potential usually pertains to the lack of conversion definition. You would be quite surprised at how many businesses are incapable of defining the means of conversion. Is this a phone call? A contact form completion? A sale (if you have an e-commerce storefront)? It’s important for you to see the value in SEO otherwise it may result in a complete flop.

Lack of Understanding

SEO is extremely complex. Although many DIY SEO folks tend to think otherwise. After spending the last 4 years building a SEO/SEM curriculum for the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) I found myself quite frequently having to break down the SEO pillars. It’s imperative that you fully understand the 4 pillars of SEO:

  • Accessibility
  • On-Page
  • Indexation
  • Off-Page


Google particularly uses close to 300 different signals to rank the value of a website. That makes it extremely hard for any website owner to put a finger on the pulse. Search engine giants such as Google are continuously refining their algorithm in order to ensure return of the most relevant search results to its users. Having said that, Search is driven by changing consumer trends and patterns in the marketplace. While there are fundamentals one can learn about SEO, in the reality of things the marketplace is too fast-paced to keep up with and adapt.

Lack of Investment

This is probably one of my favorite areas to discuss regarding SEO. Most DIY SEO practitioners are misled in thinking that they can pinpoint a budget that should be spent on such campaign. Proper SEO can be a constantly revolving door, and this makes it even harder to sell. Most brands seek quantitative results in SEO efforts. That is difficult unless you operate an e-commerce storefront where you can gauge the pulse of your organic traffic and revenue.

When it comes to defining an adequate budget for SEO efforts, I would encourage you to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you know what your CPA (Cost-Per-Acquisition) current cost is?
  • Have you defined the meaning of a conversion?
  • Are there any specific goals and objectives you’d like to accomplish? (Both short-term and long-term)
  • Did you factor in content marketing endeavors?
  • Are you prepared to go all in for the long-haul?

The Power of Content

If Content is King, than Context is God. – Gary Vaynerchuk. 

This is a favorite quote of mine that I commonly refer to when having SEO related discussions. A vast majority of SEO tends to rely heavily upon content efforts. Let me explain.

SEO can in a way be described as an entire ecosystem. Search is the #1 source consumers utilize when seeking information. Whether it’s product, services, comparison shopping, or simply lurking. In today’s digital age it’s the natural thing that we do. It’s not going to the library and checking out a book or using the computer to find the information we need. Instead we search in the palms of our hands.

People search on search engines, they click on links, and that generates organic traffic for brands like yours.

Content is the epicenter of the SEO ecosystem. It’s important to have good information, and engaging content that will incline a searcher to click on your specific page. This is in essence what the quote above intends to convey. In order to be successful with SEO endeavors, it’s imperative to produce engaging content. Your content should also have substance that would entice someone to click on a link within a SERP.

Engaging, informative,and authoritative content drives targeted traffic and helps boost your SEO potential. Enough said.

Patience is a Virtue

If you want a quick bang for the buck, give paid media a whirl. It’s a much quicker but more expensive way of generating targeted traffic. Organic optimization takes time. Although many brands even to this day fail to account for an adequate timeframe. The fruition of an average SEO campaign can span from 6-12 months. A lot of times it’s also heavily contingent upon various factors, some of which I’ve mentioned above.

Snake oil SEO is quite common these days. I truly hope that even for those of you who DIY SEO, that you don’t take the bait.

What are your thoughts on SEO? Let me know by sharing them in the comments section below.


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A digital marketing practitioner bringing nearly two decades of seasonality to the table with emphasis on Search, Social, & Content. I'm enthused about helping small businesses increase their digital footprint by utilizing the power of technology, web, strategic thinking, and targeted execution for maximum market penetration. CEO of @RazorSharpDigit, a human-centric digital brand but can be found @ivan_temelkov on Twitter as well.