Conclusive Evidence Beyond Basic SEO Is A Waste Of Time And Money Thumbnail

I’ve kept the stance for several years now that beyond basic SEO, SEO is not a great use of time or money. If you artificially build links, you’ll eventually get penalized by Google. If you build a link-building business, your business probably won’t last very long either. If you build a link building network, it’ll eventually go away as we’ve seen with many Private Blog Networks getting hit in September, 2014. If you’re a link broker, be prepared to get a day job again.

Yet, despite the very obvious repercussions of trying to game the system with SEO beyond the basics of a good title, meta description, and keyword content inclusion, requests for direct advertising links and advertorial sponsored posts keep on coming in. Activity in the SEO forums, SEO social media, and SEO blogs are as active as ever.

I do understand publishing the occasional sponsored post because it’s such easy money, especially if the content is OK and relevant. But spending time and money on producing content is way more valuable than spending time and money trying to game SEO.

I’ve asked this question before and I’ll ask it again: If an SEO is such an expert, why doesn’t he or she build their own amazing SEO site and generate lots of passive income than work for an SEO company or be a SEO freelancer?


The answer is because the SEO expert simply can’t do it. Who wouldn’t want to make more money doing less instead of working to make someone else money. Everybody. As a result, the SEO expert becomes a freelance SEO or works for an SEO company because it pays more. How much more is the real question.

In a fantastic survey by a search firm called BrightLocal, they polled 1,700 SEOs to see what type of REVENUE they were pulling in a year.

SEO Income Chart

As you can see from the chart, 37% of SEOs said they brought in less than $30,000 in revenue a year. 50% of SEOs surveyed said they brought in less than $50,000 a year. And 60% of SEOs said they brought in less than $75,000 a year in revenue. Notice how the % of SEOs making less than $30,000 a year has increased each year since 2011. And if I’m not mistaken, this is revenue for the ENTIRE company, not per person, although most SEO companies are made up of individuals.

I’m not sure exactly what the operating profits are given SEO is largely a service business. But let’s say that even if SEO business operating profit margin is a whopping 90%, those figures are still not very impressive.

If you are an SEO expert who can’t create an SEO-amazing site that brings in revenue for yourself, and can’t even generate $30,000 in revenue as a freelancer or client, then I would stop right there and find a new occupation.

Google, Bing, Duckduckgo, Yelp, and’s mission is to make SEO less necessary because their algorithms will be able to successfully find the most useful content. If their algorithms don’t, they will lose business. It’s pretty simple.

SEO may be an effective short-term fix. But medium-to-long term, there’s a lot of risk if you do more than the basics. Focus on your brand, your content, and your community building efforts instead.

Read: Find The Best Money Making Affiliate Program For Your Blog


I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, creating, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, learn how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes like this one. 

Leverage the 3+ billion internet users and build your brand online. There are professional bloggers now who make way more than bankers, doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs while having much more fun, much more freedom, and doing less work. Get started. You never know where the journey will take you!

Updated for 2017 and beyond.