Is SEO Worth it? Read This Warning Before You Embark on it.

Doing SEO full time, for years, has taught me many lessons. I’ve experienced the success and the horror it can bring, but it’s still worth it, to me. 

is seo worth it

Will that be the case for you? Will you be on the success or failure side?

Well that’s dependent upon your ambition to succeed in it and being prepared to face the likelihood that it won’t work or produce fast enough results. 

I’m not trying to tell you to not embark on this trip, but I am going to explain that it has it’s bumps, big ones at times, that can truly shatter your ambition instantly at times, which happened to me multiple times, and that’s on the negative end.

On the positive end though, this business is highly in demand, not just from a point of view of you making websites, getting organic traffic and making good money (which I have also experienced multiple times), but being a valued in demand professional in the field, who clients are ready to pay big money to in order to get their sites and potential businesses to do the same. 

You can make more as a professional or at least intermediately experienced in this field than most major job titles pay in the world, that is NOT a joke.

How much can you make with SEO? These are my real numbers:

how much can you make with seo

My history with SEO & real stories of failure and success.

While I have made a lot of sites since I started, I don’t want to list all of them. Instead, I want to breakdown my history with SEO into 3 phases, each of which started well but ended because the rules changes or I did something I shouldn’t have. 

When I would move into the next phase of my experience, I did so knowing what past mistakes NOT to repeat and that actually made the progressing of my phases better and better. 

My first phase of success (and eventual failure):

I began an SEO career writing articles on directories. At the time, writing a short, 300 or more word essay on any topic that had profitability produced me fast, high rankings and sales.

This was a method I milked for about a year, having daily sales that went from $20-$200 at times. And I grossed $10,000’s of dollars in the process.

But this eventually died out and the standards rose and neither I nor anyone who used that approach could do it any longer, because this business evolved, a lot.

This meant that I would need to evolve how I did SEO or quit and frankly, this was one of the biggest hits I took. Think about how easy it was to write short little blog posts and get high rankings, and make easy money.

You get used to doing this after awhile and imagine yourself being set for life. But once the hit comes, ALL of that fell apart, those daily profits disappeared.

This would be the first of many hard lessons I was taught about how tough this business because of how it changes (it was the first of many changes I experienced). But whining about it certainly wouldn’t pay my bills. If I wanted to continue, I would have to evolve and try harder. 

This led me to create personal websites where the norm for content increased dramatically. From the 300 or so words I was able to get by before, I now had to reach over a 1,000, on every single one. Not only that, but standards rose in more than just word count, I had to create better content, better links and more.

But being that I already tasted the success within this world, I knew it was worth it and so I did meet the standards. And I did see success.

But then another crash happened, Phase 2 (I tried to cheat):

During my second phase of SEO attempts, while I did have some success, I tried to take a shorter path to reaching it, by engaging in very poor backlinking strategies, which in hindsight, I warn people to avoid, due to them being in the red, danger zone. 

But at the time, I didn’t know what I know now and in doing what I did, every site that I managed to get successful through crashed. Just as my first stage of SEO crashed, so did this one and in all honesty, it was short lived. I only made a few $100 from this.

The 3rd phase (where I’m at now):

Prelude: Putting in a lot of work during the second phase and then having it ALL be destroyed nearly overnight put me in a bit of a depression. Again, just with the first phase, putting in the work, seeing the results and then having it all go back down to zero can really mess with your mind.

However, being that the second phase failure wasn’t the first time I experienced such a thing, I managed to bounce back from it faster, because I knew what I did wrong, and I knew what I had to do in order to fix this and continue.

The only issue was…I had to start over. And that was my biggest struggle to overcome at the time.

Again, I asked myself if SEO was worth it, and then I remembered all the profits I had experienced in the past, the potential I saw and experienced personally. I had an action plan to reach this goal, and I knew that I could no longer cheat my way to success.

If I was going to make my 3rd attempt at succeeding at this work, I would need to truly sit my butt down and work for a long time. And I truly did that.

This hard work and effort was what led to the $200k+ generated.

While my first half year working hard produced little results, thanks to the Google Sandbox, eventually I realized that this is how SEO works and being persistent during that waiting period, I was able to bear fruit in ALL the efforts I put into the new sites I made that truly followed the white hat rules of getting by in this business. 

That occurred in early 2013. And being that 2019 is less than a month away (Update: This article was updated in mid 2019), I’m here to tell you, the rules I’ve been following for nearly 6 years still stand, have not killed ANY of my sites that I have followed through with this one and there’s no sign this will stop. 

While I had to work A LOT harder than I did during the first 2 phases, the end result was what truly made it all worth it.

3 lessons I want you to take from my experience (if this is worth it to you):

1) You will have to write a lot.

Content is king in modern day SEO. If you wish to survive in this world, content creation is what will drive you to success. If you are not a writer and don’t enjoy it, you have no business getting into all of this stuff.

You have to consider that the average person may take several hours just to produce just 1 blog post. Then you will have to consider that these efforts will need to be multiplied by 100x at least to get to a point where you can get enough traffic to make enough money to make this a livelihood. 

Promoting local businesses is a little bit different (here is how it works) and does require less work, but I’m personally not a local businessman, I’m a person making his own blog and so are most people, so they will have to aim for that main goal.

2) You will need patience. 

That Google Sandbox I told you about is a real killer of ambition and one of the reasons people think SEO is dead. Not only do you have to get over the hump of writing a lot, but then waiting for that work to produce results, over a period of months usually can really kill your determination. 

The important thing here is to be aware of this sandbox and know that it WILL affect you no matter who you are and that it’s fine to go through it. You just have to keep focusing on the first lesson while you’re waiting.

You only need to get through the sandbox period once, then all your future work will be ranked faster.

3) Just because you get free traffic doesn’t mean it’ll get you money.

Once you pass that sandbox hump, you will be very happy to see a spike in traffic, but it won’t always mean that you’re set and the money will start pouring in.

Out of the few people who actually get to this point in SEO, there’s also a minority within this minority who get the profits right away. You have to understand how to get sales from visitors and how to monetize your site and you have to TEST different sales angles and that bears it’s own training.

Here’s an extra tip that will solve most of these problems…

As you can see there are a lot of obstacles in SEO and while I am hopeful you will see how worth it can really be, there’s a lot of expected problems when you begin. And if you expect them, you’ll be fine.

That is why I have this following tip to minimize these obstacles for you:

If I haven’t scared you away from trying this business, then try that program above and I promise you, with added ambition, you can be where I am in this business.

24 thoughts on “Is SEO Worth it? Read This Warning Before You Embark on it.”

  1. Honestly, SEO was one of the hardest parts of learning online business for me in the first place and to this day, I’m still learning new tips, tricks and techniques. 

    I like how you ask the question about SEO and I believe the question itself is somewhat rhetorical. SEO is extremely important for getting seen and I think it goes hand in hand with quality content. If the content is great, like this post, I believe when paired with proper SEO, people will go much farther than they even imagined they could. 

    Great article!

    Reply
    • You’re right Corey, but I disagree on the question posted in the title being rhetorical. I find a lot of people who understand the importance of quality content simply aren’t ready to write so much of it. 

      One of the hardest things about SEO even when you do understand it’s basic rules is putting in the effort and waiting for it to deliver and that long period is what turns many people away.

      Reply
  2. Excellent points, Vitaliy. Back in the day, the other big SEO failure was specialized niche sites that had very little content but served up lots of ads. I am glad you highlighted the amount of effort it takes. So many hustlers promote the idea that making money online is easy and quick. 

    One of the well-known online marketers I know writes 17,000 words a week. At this point in his career, I am sure he hires writers to do the heavy lifting. But he still has to prove the work and put his name to it.

    Reply
    • I can see why that writer you mentioned does so well in SEO. Those 17k words divided on a daily basis means he’s writing articles over 2k words long. And if he’s hiring people to either add to that amount or it makes up the total 17k number, it doesn’t change the fact that at his pace, he is certainly getting a lot of organic traffic! 

      And what you mentioned earlier about small content sites working earlier were known as micro niche sites. People used to make them, give them backlinks, rank high temporarily but ran ads like you mentioned. It was a scheme, but it worked until the trend changed.

      Reply
  3. Hello. Thank you for writing this informative and inspiring post. I’ve been a premium member of Wealthy Affiliate for about a month now. I didn’t know about the Google Sandbox and I’m very glad that I came upon your website to learn about it. 

    I didn’t my site would take 6 months to be out of that sandbox, but now that I know, I have to expect that I won’t see results for months. But that doesn’t stop me from trying. Now I will certainly try my best to post 3-4 times a week with quality content thanks to your site!

    Reply
    • Awesome Shelly, don’t worry about the sandbox, it’s a test implemented by Google to ensure only the serious bloggers and sites make it and you certainly seem to be one of those people. I am certain with your posting frequency, that you’ll be out of it before you know it.

      Reply
  4. Hi Vitaliy, great post. I do know that SEO is very important and I do not want to be in the same boat as you were in the first two phases of your SEO experience. I am a Premium member with Wealthy Affiliate (WA) and am learning how to do what you are talking about in your post.

    I am relatively new (since July 2018) and am slowly working on my website with SEO in it. I know you mentioned 100’s of articles and I do want to do more with my site. I don’t have 100’s of posts yet, but am gradually working to get more content. Just like I am slowly working through the training on WA’s website. 

    The training there is outstanding and you are absolutely correct in the training for starter members. As they work their way through the training they are also getting their website up and running with SEO built into it. 

    I enjoyed your blog and even clicked on the link to your local business SEO article. I will be using the pointers there as well to build my wife’s new website on pet sitting. 

    I wish you the best!

    Bob

    Reply
    • Thank you Bob, have your wife (or yourself) write tips on how to house sit pets to get her site some decent traffic. Make sure to include keywords with your local area within the content of your articles so it ranks for local searches in your areas for people who want those services, it’ll really help get that site out there.

      Reply
  5. Vitaliy, I am glad that I stumbled upon your website. Lately, I have been in a phase thinking that I should focus on simply writing great posts for my website and not spend so much time worrying about researching keywords and trying to get the website to rank.   

    Thank you for reminding me that SEO IS worth it. I would hate to waste my precious sandbox time writing articles with keywords that I have almost know chance of ranking with. Yes, I am trying to pretend that the sandbox time is a good opportunity to write a number of posts and get my website looking sort of professional before lots of visitors start arriving. I’d like to think that first impressions do count.   

    P.S. Your results are inspiring.

    Reply
    • Thanks Sondra. I’m all for your idea on writing content, but do connect that content with low competition keywords. This is another great SEO investment you should take time to focus on as well.

      Reply
  6. Everything you wrote about this is what I’ve seen on my websites. I have an MMO site that will be a year old in about a month and has 85 articles, with about half of them being reviews.  

    I started seeing an increase in traffic a couple months ago, and it’s steadily increasing. I follow the training in Wealthy Affiliate and can say, without a doubt, that SEO works if you put in the time and effort and don’t try to take shortcuts.  

    Reply
    • Good work Janelle, you bypassed that sandbox point, carried on and all that past work is now starting to reward you. These are the rewards of sticking with SEO.

      Reply
  7. What I like about this article is that you don’t cherry coat any of it. Online marketing is an ever changing atmosphere, and cheating isn’t the way to do anything in life. I like that you say if you don’t like writing, you shouldn’t get into this business.  

    You have to write a lot to create those 100-200 blog posts. That’s 1,000 words each, times 100 is 100,000 words – 200,000 words.  

    That’s a lot of words, and the search engines don’t want bad content. They want quality content.  

    I’m actually really glad it’s that way. I search a lot of things online, and I would rather get quality content when I need information than some blogger trying to make money, right?  

    Way to be real about the process!

    Reply
    • Thanks Babsie. What you said about your experiences in browsing blogs and websites and seeking to find the best info (quality content) is the reason that SEO has evolved the way it did (I actually explained this recently here). And I would argue, the world of SEO has gotten better for it.

      Reply
  8. Thanks for the post great information and a real look at what it takes to get seen on Google these days. I like the information on Google sandbox and what it means for the average blogger. 

    Great advice on writing content that addresses people’s problems and something that you know about, it makes it so much easier to actually write articles, blog posts ect… 

    Share your knowledge and you will be rewarded. Again thank you for your insight on SEO.

    Reply
  9. That’s one mistake I made (thinking traffic would mean income). My very first niche site was abandoned because I wasn’t focusing on creating content (I didn’t even like what I was writing about to be honest) and I became frustrated very quickly when I realized that 1,000 views a month wasn’t making me any money.

    I love how you share your story and let everyone know about your failures and the things you’ve learned along the way. You’re a trooper for sharing this because most site owners like to portray themselves as an expert who just got lucky and tried something once and succeeded! 

    Thank you for being honest and open and keeping it real. Keep it up and never lose your voice. It’s much appreciated!

    Reply
    • Thank you! I promise you that any successful businessman who speaks realistically about their experiences will tell you that there are 100% chances of failure happening, even multiple times along the way to success, it’s normal and it’s what helps adjust your journey to reach that success. The problem is, most people don’t view it that way and quit.

      Reply
  10. Thanks Vitaliy for a very interesting and informative read. I am just getting back to my sites after a 7 month absence (due to health reasons). I went through all of my articles and most of them, to no surprise were not found on Google.  

    Some of them however were found in Bing and Yahoo. This is not new for me. I have always found it easier to rank in Yahoo and Bing then Google. I am now hoping to get back into this by writing on a more regular basis. Your advice is truly helpful and I will try and follow it. Thank you for your help. 

    One question, how do I know if I am in the sandbox?

    Reply
    • Hi Maureen, if your site is new with it’s domain age and content creation, and its under 6 months, it’s probably going to be in the sandbox. Given what you mentioned though, it doesn’t sound like your site is in that situation.

      What it sounds like to me is that you may have been trying to rank for very competitive keywords and this is why you aren’t finding any rankings in Google. The thing is, when you have good rankings, they don’t just disappear, and you may find certain rankings last forever. 

      I have some rankings for blog posts I’ve written years ago STILL ranking on the first page to this day and it’s because the keyword I targeted all those years ago, not only had low competition but didn’t get any new competition over this long period, so that allowed my site to maintain that ranking for that keyword.

      So in your situation, get back to blogging and make sure this time you target those low competition keywords. Hoping your health is at 100%!

      Reply
  11. Hey there,

    Thanks for a great post! I like the tips you are giving in this post. I’d like to ask one question: 

    I don’t have the time to write posts daily. I am a full time employee with a family. I can only do that once a week. Is there any way I can beat the sandbox by posting once per week? And if yes, how? My posts are ranked, but not highly ranked.

    Thanks a lot!

    Marios

    Reply
    • Hi Marios, for the most part the sandbox affects new sites (their age) and not so much their content amount, meaning if you have little content by the end of say 6 months, the sandbox will end, but if your posts aren’t optimized to target keywords with very low competition, they will likely not rank high. 

      I do believe that you can get high rankings by posting once a week, but it would need to be in a topic that is extremely noncompetitive. In your case, I say you should keep going at the pace you are going at. You will see results, but just a bit later than most sites. 

      1 post a week = 4 posts a month and about 20-30 after 6 months which is when the sandbox generally ends. If you can double your posting, you can double that number and get double the respect from Google when the sandbox ends, so I would also aim to try and double the content production if possible. 

      Reply
  12. Thanks for these awesome tips on how to become successful with SEO. Personally I find the Google sandbox very hard as you just stated. I mean I knew it would be hard but not this hard.

    I’ve been writing for about 10 months in a very competitive niche (MMO), have 100 articles, and still not getting much traffic.Of course I know that 100 is almost nothing and that I need to write 400-500 articles to do well (at least I think).

    Also from what I’ve seen, I feel Google really starts recognizing sites about a year and a half down the road in these competitive niches and is also when you start to get good rankings. Is this true?

    Thanks again for this tips and I’ll continue to work to get similar results like you have.

    Reply
    • Hi Michael, to be honest, I strongly believe you SHOULD already be seeing the results of all your work. 100 posts, even in a competitive market and with a 10 month age to bat, should have already taken you past the sandbox period and into having good rankings.

      My question to you is this: Have you been following the SEO tips I have listed on word count, keyword titles being under 60 characters and a lot of high quality content?

      Also I want to share 2 particular cases where despite all the rules of SEO that I listed and that were followed, results still didn’t come, BUT overtime that changed:

      1) I had a site I ran a long time ago for a local client where I paid a freelance writer money to write at least 50 posts. Now 2 years old, this site is still not making headway in Google. Even one of the SEO experts I talk to was also confused about this scenario. I’m still investigating.

      2) I have a friend who is also in the MMO niche and wrote over 200 articles, had a year on his site in terms of age and didn’t see results. However, shortly after that year period, his rankings blasted off and he came to a point where his daily, organic traffic surpassed 2,000 visits a DAY. Now the guy is doing very well for himself and growing.

      There’s always going to be the exception in SEO and it’s a rare exception. I am 99% sure that if you follow and practice good SEO tips, that your will break that sandbox and catapult higher.

      Reply

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