Is SEO Really Worth the Time These Days? 133 Comments
Is SEO Really Worth the Time These Days?

I’m sure I will ruffle a few feathers with this blog post, but what the heck I need to come out and say it “Is SEO really worth the time these days?”

Now before I explain myself I want to say a few things, first I want to hear your opinions on this so we can all learn from each other, and also I still do SEO, BUT no where near as much as I use to and only in certain situations which I will explain below.

A friend of mine contacted me the other day on skype and asked me about a certain backlinking service being offered, which was very expensive indeed, and asked my honest opinion if he should subscribe. My honest answer to my friend was this “Don’t bother with SEO in your situation its a waste of time and money and not good long term strategy”. As much as he probably was hoping for a different answer, I think he appreciated my honesty.

Thanks SEO It’s Been Fun

Over the past 5 years SEO has done very well for me, it was my primary focus for a long time and I made a lot of money doing it. It use to be very easy to rank a websites pages for medium competition keywords and get traffic, which then was turned into leads or sales immediately. It was happy days for everyone involved.

However since Google began its relentless attack on the SEO community a few years back, where they first unleashed Google Panda, soon followed by Google Penguin, this all changed.

Yes I had a fair few sites slapped hard by these updates, enough so that I now don’t plan any business activity that relies on organic search engine traffic for it to work. I now view organic traffic of this nature as an extra bonus and nothing more.

Now of course there will be the die hard SEO people out their that will claim they have never once been hit by a Google update, which I think is pure lies, that will tell you its still easy. However what they often neglect to explain is that with all these recent Google updates you need a labyrinth of hidden backlinks and underground black hat (they will say they are ‘grey hat’, yeah right) techniques to fool Google.

I don’t doubt that some folks are still doing super well with SEO, but the question begs, for how long, are you really able to outsmart Google forever…I doubt it.

The major concern with SEO these days, is that you can pour a lot of time and resources into a great site only to wake up one day, and this has happened to me on more than one occasion, to find that Google has dropped your site and you’ve lost all of your traffic. You have NOTHING to show for your efforts and you most certainly do NOT have an asset.

However as much as I’m no longer “PRO SEO” this is only in certain circumstances and it also depends on your goals, which I will now explain.

When SEO Isn’t a Waste of Time

Ok so like I said I still do SEO in certain circumstances, but only when it’s not my primary source of traffic for a site or when I’m working with an authority domain, as I explain below:

Amazon Product Pages

As most of you will know, I’ve been getting into creating brands and selling on Amazon, using the Amazon FBA model. I think this method is fantastic and I’ll be blogging more about this over the coming months for all of you.

In a nutshell this is where you create your own private label brand of a product and sell it on Amazon. When you do this you can do SEO on your Amazon product URL. Why do I still do SEO in this situation you might ask? Because I’m doing SEO on an Amazon page and that domain has HUGE authority with Google and the results are better than when doing SEO on a WordPress blog.

Not only that though, but you don’t have to continually rely on your ranking in Google for your Amazon product page to make money. The reason for this is that using SEO to get you traffic will help you sell your product in Amazon, and as you sell more in Amazon, the product starts to rank higher INSIDE AMAZON, and once it does that Amazon has enough of its own traffic to sustain sales. This means you are not at the mercy of Google and their nasty algorithm changes.

Guest Posting Opportunities

I also still do SEO on existing sites but only where the sole traffic strategy is not SEO. In this situation I will be doing Adwords and other forms of traffic generation, sometimes even offline marketing, and do low key guest posting out reach to get good quality links over time for the website. This way I’m not doing high risk SEO, and over time I collect good links and the SEO kicks in eventually.

As part of this same strategy I’ll also continually be adding new fresh content to my website and aim for topics where I can target relevant longtail keywords. By doing this, overtime the website will also collect more organic traffic from SEO, but again I do not rely on this for the website to be successul.

YouTube Videos

The exception to the rule when it comes to SEO is YouTube videos. I still find that YouTube videos done right do respond to SEO, and the sort of SEO that would get a website slapped silly. Why are YouTube video immune to slaps? I am not sure, but perhaps because Google owns YouTube and also the YouTube domain, like Amazon, carries a huge amount of authority.

You can use YouTube for a variety of marketing purposes, such as making affiliate sales and building email lists.


Some people will never let go of SEO, the reason being that the type of sites they build and services they sell don’t work with paid traffic very well, especially the likes of Adwords. Your typical affiliate site will never go done well in Google Adwords, and the marketers that focus on these don’t like to spend money on other forms of paid traffic. So they stick with SEO to the death, rather than find a different business model.  They choose to stay where they are comfortable and the service providers, software creators and backlink services, keep coming out with more and more tools and services that ‘apparently’ outsmart Google, and so the Merry-Go-Round continues to spin!

Before I close this post and open up for your comments, I want to leave you with this. If all you want to achieve online some extra cash to pay the bills or buy the odd toy here and there, then you might be ok with taking more risks as your goal is not building long term business assets. For this group carrying on and relying 100% on SEO for your traffic and hence revenue source is ok.

However for those of you who sincerely want to build a long term business that create assets and something you can sell one day, then I suggest you think differently and do not continue with SEO as the major source of your traffic and income. I’ve now resigned to the fact that you should never sell a site that relies on SEO for its traffic, its not fair to and people who buy these sites are crazy.

I have to say it took me a while to make this mindset change, but eventually I did and now I am building great long term assets which will serve me well for years.

That’s my honest take on SEO these days folks, and now I open it up for your comments.

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65 Comments to Is SEO Really Worth the Time These Days?

  1. July 29, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    Can you tell me the name of that guy that did the Amazon course that you did a webinar with a while back? I remember him saying something about not using SEO and was thinking of getting into Amazon too.



    Matt Carter Reply:

    Hi Shaun

    That course is not available as they closed it, BUT stay tuned as it is opening again in about 2 months

    John Gibb Reply:

    hey Matt

    was that course a webminar or where can we find more details on it?


  2. July 29, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Hey Matt,

    Great article! I too have been looking more into paid traffic strategies not only because SEO takes time, but also because of the endless updates.

    I’ll still continue with videos, but definitely have been doing a lot more research into the paid marketing side of things.

    Especially for stuff outside of the IM niche.

    Looking forward to your AMazon updates.

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks Josh

    Yup more on that coming soon

  3. July 29, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    I used to do SEO with many services, but right now I shift the strategy. I also think that do SEO too much is a waste of time. What I am now focusing is to have my own product/brand that have repetitive buyers (you won’t sell product that people not buying again right?) and invest on good site that bring good customer experience.

    I also blog, but focusing on really good content that give relevant information with what I sell. I do not create articles that pinching on what I want to see, but more towards the reader. I do not do much of back linking either.

    I consider that paying top high notch SEO services with expensive fee is a waste of money and time. NO body can tweak GooG right for a long time. Your investment will pour-off the drain and better focusing on making good site, good niche product, and have your own brand….

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks Kurnia, appreciate your thoughts

    John Gibb Reply:

    hi Kurnia

    I’ve been in the affiliate marketing game for more than 10 years now. Google has changed since back then, and their updates is driving me nuts… however, I can easily adjust my strategy (SEO/link building/content creation) and still rank at the top

    To me, private linking networks and good, relevant content wins the day.

    I cannot say SEO is a waste of time and money (my personal experience with the game taught me the exact opposite) – and just like with any investment/business model, you have to do your math, and see how to increase your ROI, with every move you make.

    Does it make sense?

  4. Valerie Mosier's Gravatar Valerie Mosier
    July 29, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Matt, I bought your lead generation program, E Wealth Blueprint, wherein you have extensive SEO instruction. It seems to me that SEO is essential for these sites. Do you agree? Or do you no longer recommend we develop and operate these type sites?

    Matt Carter Reply:

    yes it, but even with these and the recent changes in the last 4 weeks at Google even I am now not pursuing a site that relied on SEO only, however with that said those lead gen sites work well in Adwords, I know one guy insurance doing my method and doing incredibly well with no SEO and only paid traffic to one of those lead gen sites.

  5. July 29, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    It’s sad but everything Matt said is true, SEO is dead. The average marketer will never build a ‘brand’ that can compete with the likes of Amazon, Wikepedia, YouTube, Webmd, Dr. Oz and all the other major sites taking the top 7 spots in the SERPS. Even the churn and burn (build quick site, spam it with links, cash in, get penalized, start over) method is going to die out soon. Here’s my advice, if you are on anybody’s email list that you’ve bought links from, SEO tools, software, etc, opt out now! Because you could be 1 short email read away from wasting your money buying someone’s hyped up solution to beating penguin, panda or what ever comes next from Google.

    John Gibb Reply:


    I somehow agree with you, and just like with any business, it’s key not to put all your eggs into one basket, and diversify your traffic sources and income methods…

    However, just imagine… with all these Google algo changes and updates… people are still ranking their mini sites/pages and probably always will.

    Let’s be honest: can’t you see how some queries are delivering poor results… pages with weak content… don’t you feel like web users deserve better content?

    I mean, to me, that’s what inspires me to keep pushing the SEO pedals and continue growing my niche site empire… when I see some poor SERPs , I know (from personal experience, not just the gut feeling) that I can out-rank (for longer term) those silly pages…

    Does it make sense?

    I’m not talking here about big brands… as there’s no little guy whom I know or coached who wants to compete with Amazon or eBay… SEO works best for mini sites and product review blogs.

  6. July 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree Matt. SEO has totally changed and is no longer a solid path to a successful website. We look for varied avenues of traffic other than Google. Like simple classified sites like CraigsList and Gum Tree.

    I find Google Adwords very expensive – so I trial with Bing to see what the conversion rate is before spending a dime with Adwords.

    Guest blogging is helpful – as long as they are good sites. Plus the we use sites like slideshare to help spread the word.
    And Page Rank – I find as long as the site has PR3 or above it doesn’t matter about backlinking the guest post. Social activity is more important on the articles.

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks David

  7. Sye's Gravatar Sye
    July 29, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the honesty on how you feel about SEO these days Matt. It is helpful.

    I like the idea of doing FBA on Amazon, with private labeling, but I wonder if that business model is out of the reach for most people who don’t already have a significant amount of money to invest; not to mention figure out what they can private label.

    What do you think about that? Thanks for any feedback Matt.

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Hi Sye

    If you source private label product in the USA you don’t need heaps of money to get started.

  8. July 29, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    I couldn’t agree with you more, after all those creatures that Google created to hurt SEO, everything went down, i few years ago i was doing SEO to my amazon sites, i was doing pretty good i had a few sites on first page i was making sales, everything was good, then i had to leave IM for awhile i came back this year i wanted to do the same and my site was never to be found on google, i tried everything but nothing worked.

    So now i am working on paid traffic, i am mastering FB which is working very good for me after that i will go for something else, but i think still it will be paid traffic maybe bingads or another PPC network


    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks for your insights Alex

    John Gibb Reply:

    hey Alex

    paid traffic is good if you have the money and test your metrics and know your back-end funnel provides a positive ROI. However, don’t forget that using SEO is still viable…, maybe you’re not ranking your site into the top 10 SERPs, you still have YouTube and other web properties you could use to benefit from huge free organic traffic.

    If you master free traffic/SEO, you could master PPC as well, the rules are similar… if you don’t master free traffic/SEO, I doubt you’ll master PPC… it’s all about how you perceive the game and how well you know the rules…

    *** I’m not referring to you personally!

  9. July 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    You are absolutely right Matt. SEO has died with Google updates. I spent so much in SEO outsourcing, but in return got nothing.

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks Nasser

  10. July 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Very interesting post Matt. I have to say, I think of all the people trying to rank organically, only a very small percentage really are successful. For the rest (myself included), it remains a struggle. Putting endless hours of “studying” and money towards it with little reward. (But as you have pointed out, there is no shortage of new ideas and “solutions” out there).

    These New SEO strategies may all work in the short term, but by the time the average person get their head around it, Google has already dealt with that as well. So you look at yet another “solution” ….

    Is PPC a long term solution? Well I don’t know. As people give up on SEO more and more use PPC as “go-to solution”. The increased competition leads to skyrocketing click costs. I had certain keywords increased in price 7 fold over 4 years!

    I have to agree with you that organic traffic should not be your entire focus. This therefore means many websites / online businesses will lose value going forward, unless we successfully implement different traffic generation methods in a cost effective way.

    Where does this leave someone just starting out on this journey?

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Hi Peter

    Good points here, and yeah it does mean things are slightly more difficult than the used to be to get into online marketing.

  11. Maurie's Gravatar Maurie
    July 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,
    Like you, I’m looking to branch out into some different form of making money online. I agree that it has become not just harder, but much less predictable to use SEO methods and be ranked in the Google SERPs.

    I am interested in following along with your Fulfillment By Amazon story, (if you have one). It does seem a good model, but I am totally unaware of the best practices and methods to use.

    Does your post mean that you are thinking of an FBA product or course down the track?

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Hi Maurie

    I will be blogging more about my Amazon journey here soon


  12. July 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    So true. Top 7 is almost impossible to reach. Paid traffic is an expensive option

  13. July 29, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks you for your honest and sincere comment on seo. This is a real eye opener for me, i look forward to reading more of your work.



    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks Daniel

  14. Brandon Mix's Gravatar Brandon Mix
    July 29, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Hey Matt,

    I agree with you 100% on SEO. I have made the switch over to Amazon myself and doing the private label route. You recommended it a few months back and I have decided to abandon ship with SEO…for the most part.

    The great part about Amazon is that you can build a sustainable business using the private label strategies. People will always be purchasing products online and probably through Amazon for that matter.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts regarding how you have been doing.

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Right on Brandon!

  15. July 29, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Matt, your posts are superb and straight to the point.

    I’m a writer of high quality natural medicine books, and surely there must be an excellent online market for them. These Google updates have hit me hard, and it looks like competitors with inferior junk ghost-written books in my niche and a long history online pre-Panda, etc; have the lion’s share of affiliates. How can I get the end user to see that my products are superior? Is YouTube the best route, or is it building a list and using auto-responders? Google again, Thanks to gmail), have really hammered this as well with their new “tab” system. I guess this just leaves me with YouTube, create a thousand key-word specific videos in my niche and wait some time for my content to mature online.

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Hey Eric

    Yeah I did hear about the new gmail tab, be interesting to see what this does to open rates

  16. July 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I also agree with you Matt. I have a really good site which used to rank in the top spots for target keywords … untill September last year, when the site almost disappeared off the radar! Since then I’ve fiddled and tweaked, adjusted and re-gigged and also bought an expensive “panda breakthrough” course. I diligently did most of the stuff recommended, but I’m still being slam-dunked by sites which are poor quality and irrelevant. Funny thing is, my site metrics are excellent and I often get emails thanking me for the helpful info being provided … but, google still regards it as a crappy site. So, how is it that websites that break googles so-called idea of a good-quality-site, get the top positions? I often wonder if this is google BS to keep us all guessing.
    Anyway, I’m going back to the method which has stood the test of time …. directly contacting my target market, building a relationship with them, and providing useful and helpful information which they and their customers will greatly benefit.
    That way a permanent, solid business can be built without worrying about what google is going to do next.

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Hi Paul, old school stuff still works well, I am doing some of these days also

  17. July 29, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Hey Matt

    Nice post.

    I think your “Summary” is spot on. I still do SEO and the cost to my business is only 10% of my income so it still works well and is profitable, but the question will always be “for how long”.

    Each time “G” updates it correlates into a change in strategy and sometimes at a cost in time and dollars as you mentioned.
    If I was building a long term business I would certainly be changing my business model, just as you have.

    Hope the “shakes” the other day didn’t impact you and the family too much. When are you coming back to Oz?

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Cheers Peter

  18. Anne's Gravatar Anne
    July 29, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mark, Just wanted to say I agree with you and have always held you in high regard as you do tell it how it is.

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks Anne

  19. Trevor Ambrose's Gravatar Trevor Ambrose
    July 29, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink


    Interesting article. I used to hire soooooo many SEO companies and its been a roller coaster ride with my PR. Must admit 3 years ago it was amazing and I could influence my rankings but recently it has been much more technical. I now focus on good content and my strategy is more a personal approach to connect with people via LinkedIn. Just got a contract with Toyota and other pantinum prospects. Think the personal approach is doing it for my business now. I do believe it will depend on each industry tho. Great post mate!

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks Trevor

  20. July 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    Great to hear where you are up to with SEO and all these changes with Google. As a full time SEO consultant, I would have to disagree about some of your conclusions about SEO.

    You say that only sites with “Black Hat” SEO are able to win these days in Google. I can hear you defining black hat in the old way, (not the current Google definition – any link built for rank modifying purposes), the ways that were truly unethical and probably illegal.

    If you fire up your favourite research tools, such as Market Samurai/Majesticseo and do a bit of digging, you can see that sites that are still ranking well have and continue to do so without your suggested evil black hat links. Yes there are more than a smattering of huge authority sites cluttering up the serps very intentionally I might add post-Penguin 2.0, but this is not across the board for any niche or industry.

    Opportunities still exist, you just need to be more choosy in picking your SEO battles.

    What is true is that yes many of us have had sites slapped, along with clients that approach me looking for solutions who have been Panda or Penguin challenged, and believe it or not there are ways to navigate SEO that just go a little deeper on the research side of things that still make SEO a very viable option for anyone in business seeking relatively low cost traffic from Google.

    Yes it does leave some sites beyond repair or just not cost effective to do so, but this is part of the solution. Knowing when the game is up and time to build a new site. What the Penguin looks for is basically an over optimised situation with a particular keyword on a particular website. This can’t be undone if you get to the point of having this keyword/page/site tagged as such.

    What is plain to see is the link profiles of sites that are still topping it in the serps, some of these are new or very young sites. This is an indicator that points towards the opportunities of what can be achieved, by emulating link profiles and keyword saturation that is still working of these sites, you have only to just shift the bar a little higher to out do them.

    I have clients who are businesses who are selling regular everyday products and services that are doing really well post Panda and Penguin updates.

    What I do agree with you on is that a lot of people, like your good self are abandoning SEO as it appears to be not worth the effort – this is also part of the Google plan to drive more sales to their paid product Adwords, and something anyone still doing well from their SEO efforts is only too happy to hear. It just means less competition from those who have jumped ship.

    Now for this…

    “apparently outsmart Google” – come on give us a break here.

    Google claims to clean up the serps with all these changes and yet anyone in our industry who cares to lift the bonnet and peer under the hood, can see that those who manage to work their way to the top, are not doing this without any backlinks. I don’t think I have seen any site that wasn’t a major authority site, positioned at the top who didn’t have artificially created backlinks pointing at their domain. What Google are doing is knocking a percentage of sites out of the way only to allow a different group to rise to the top. Being in the right group is still possible and it would be fair to say, that they have outsmarted Google.

    As secret as their algorithm is, there is no secret to the founding principle upon which is and always must be based, backlinks. Links from other sites that pass authority to someone else’s website or web page to be exact. If Google were to dismantle this principle in it’s entirety, they would be back to the mess that search was before they appeared on the scene back in 1998.

    If at some point SEO truly dies, I think Google will be in a lot of trouble as their search engine will just be reduced to an ad directory. When that happens, I will throw them in the same direction that I now throw the Yellow Pages – in the recycle bin. SEO’s days may be numbered but their gravestone is still along way from the stone mason’s to do list if what we see in the search results is anything to go by.

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Greg, great share here buddy, valid points.



  21. Edmund's Gravatar Edmund
    July 29, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    Do you still recommend Andrew Hansen’s Forever Affiliate course in this case? I understand the course relies on SEO.

    What’s your take on that?


    Matt Carter Reply:

    yes but only if you fall into the category of wanting small wins and not wanting to build long term assets as I described in this post

  22. July 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Matt for great information again. I find it amusing when people advertise “how to beat Google” Do we think that we have some sort of secret communication going as internet marketers that Google cant find out about? I agree with you to do it right and not have to rely on Google free traffic. I lost a site with the last update that was making me good money with Google using organic search it only dropped rankings from the top of page 1 to the bottom of page 1 but not getting sales anymore. I will look into paid as you said, the effort put in to building a site is too risky to lose through the Google Bomb

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks for sharing Linda

  23. Mark's Gravatar Mark
    July 29, 2013 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Great post Matt! I’m glad to hear you come out and boldly say what some will not… but I think a lot of us are relieved and can finally quit wasting our time and money on stuff that isn’t reliable.

    Now that the cat is out of the bag, this begs the question: what is the new low-cost way to get traffic and a business up and running in a reasonable amount of time, if we don’t have the budget to test adwords and FB campaigns? Do we focus on the joint ventures, social media, YouTube, Kindle books, selling cheap stuff on Ebay / Amazon … all to build a list?

    I’m kind of starting over, as the offline biz turned out to not be my thing… so I want to start out right in my new niche that has the ecommerce hard goods and information buyers and plenty of competition… and I have to start with a small budget of around $200 and just make a little, then reinvest and grow from there.


    Matt Carter Reply:

    Hi Mark

    There is no easy way, but I think a combination of methods is needed. Joint ventures does help, I am also going to try buying solo ads too.

  24. July 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I think you’re right Matt. SEO is down the drain. I have started an experiment with 1 new site, I have just linked to it once (blog comment on related site) and am doing nothing else but add content. Just interested to see what happens in the next few weeks.

  25. sam's Gravatar sam
    July 29, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you for your article.

    I am a newbie and would not argue with the content of your article which seems to be definitely correct. I have a general question for you though:

    It is likely that in the same way that SEO changed, Amazon model also changes down the road, in a way we would not know now and this change would hurt people relying on Amazon. Basically, what you are suggesting, is to switch from “google model” to “Amazon model” and to rely on Amazon instead of Google.

    I am not sure all the current issues applying to “relying on google” won’t apply down the road to “relying on Amazon” business model.

    Kind regards

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Hi Sam

    You do raise a valid point and my answer is yes Amazon could also change so you don’t want to ever just rely on Amazon if you get into it, you want to build a brand and Amazon be the catalyst

  26. grant's Gravatar grant
    July 29, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    it is a large world out their and there are many ways to make money if you brand your products and advertise right , I seem to be doing more advertising away from the computer as well, going back to old school a bit but working fine for me, having a online store but advertising offline works well

  27. Jade Campbell's Gravatar Jade Campbell
    July 29, 2013 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Another brilliant post Matt, thanks so much for your honesty and sharing your business journey with us – it is very much appreciated – this post for example will save a lot of people a lot of time and $$$ if they absorb the message.

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks Jade

  28. July 29, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Good one Matt,
    I think the “real World” has caught up with the internet. Every Company in the real World pay for advertising and marketing, why should websites online be any different?
    If you are a good marketer you should be able to make paid traffic and selling products work. If you can’t, you need to learn how to do it.
    It takes a lot of testing and tweaking, but once you find your groove (positive ROI) paid traffic can offer enormous leverage that can never be realized through SEO (for small websites).

  29. brian's Gravatar brian
    July 29, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    yeah the big money is in competitive niches so trying to rank in google is too time consuming. I’m sending adwords to my Amazon product page and working well and just increase my budget. Recently bought what many consider the one of the best paid traffic course out there and its pretty awesome so far. Paid traffic is infinitely scalable and a real skillset to have. I want to get into google display network and direct media buys

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Brilliant stuff Brian, well done mate


  30. July 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,
    I have been missing your emails for quite some time. I stay subscribed to your mailing list as I know that you share quality.
    I almost got started on the net, but for reasons beyond my lack of understanding, I got carried away with the glitter.
    I am in Ontario, Canada.
    I was joined with the Inforenegades for a couple of years, but their technical support and myself were on a different page.
    Just couldn’t get their support team, they were unable to help me, but their program is ace, the best that I have seen and believe that I could have started my niche with their course.
    I can only follow one leader at a time and I will follow you, let’s get cracking and show me the ropes.

    Many thanks

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks Prakash

  31. Ron's Gravatar Ron
    July 29, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Matt, the days of putting up a site that could earn money for years has already come to a conclusion. The timeline has shrunk incredibly. It changes how we put up sites, and the method of how we plan their obsolescence, and/or life after death.

    I was smirking at your jab about affiliate sites not passing the ppc functional test. It’s true. I have learned to focus on conversion to scratch every penny out of a website. (That’s probably the most fun part for me).

    I have been evaluating “what’s next” after I chase the remaining dollars left in seo. I have had the same ideas as you, but not acted on them – yet. And that’s why I listen to you mate. You’re not afraid to change your entire business model, and I commend you on that. I’m heading in the same direction. Thanks!

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Hi Ron

    Good stuff, and yeah I think conversions is key for sure.


  32. July 29, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt, it’s Michelle here from Traffic Travis.

    I think part of the problem people have with SEO is that they over think and over complicate it, and therefore are always trying to look at it as a matter of “beating the system”. If you, as an individual, are trying to outsmart and outwit one of the largest companies in the world at their own game, then you are probably going to be beaten.

    Instead, focus on the things that really count:

    1) Creating awesome websites and content
    2) Using a diverse range of channels including SEO and social media to promote
    3) Tweak your campaigns for the best possible results.

    Customer Support Manager for Traffic Travis

  33. July 29, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    You are spot on Matt but who needs SEO when you can buy traffic at 5 bucks for 5000. It’s like buying cakes – you have UV, monthly, same niche etc traffic. So, life is much easier now 🙂

    Matt Carter Reply:

    Thanks Berry

    Sandy Halliday Reply:

    Hey Berry,

    Where can you buy traffic for 5 bucks for 5000? Is it targetted traffic?


  34. July 29, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt…

    I’ve pretty much written off Google. I’m working on my ranking on Bing and Yahoo (and a little on Ask). All of my sites are doing well on them. Most on page 1 of the SERPs. If Google picks them up…that’s just gravy.

    Mainly use Content generation and NO backlinking at all.

    Matt Carter Reply:


    Hi Carroll

    Interesting to hear, thanks for sharing

  35. July 29, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt..A very interesting post indeed. I have 3 site I am trying to get up right now and I am finding it harder than ever. I am about to try a few paid sites.
    By the way Matt, I am a great lover of your theme Affiliate Marketing Theme 1.4.
    I am getting a new site up and I am having a hard time getting the theme. The place on your webpage is giving me code that the computer is rejecting.Could you please send me the correct link and code please.
    Regards Ken

  36. July 29, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,
    I still think there’s life in the old dog yet, with proper onpage SEO you can still get rankings. I still use web 2.0, Articles and blog commenting etc. for backlinks however, manually done with good content.
    You should always strive for good content; I admit years ago we were all writing for the search engines, now we have to write for the human eye.
    I do know some Marketers will have to ditch the 10 gallon black hat and buy a white one, but nothing stays the same does it?

  37. Paul L.'s Gravatar Paul L.
    July 29, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Great post, Matt. I have pretty much come to the same conclusion. My entire business has been built on SEO and it has been slowly dying over the last two years. I am now having to pivot my entire business model.

    The goal needs to be to create a site that is good enough to succeed without SEO…which, ironically, will probably be the kind of site that eventually starts getting a good amount of search engine traffic.

    SEO 1999-2012 R.I.P.

  38. July 29, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    There’s little doubt that many of the accepted forms of SEO have suffered considerably with Google’s ever changing tactics to unseat those trying to trick the search engines but I think that one form of SEO will be constant. I think that onsite SEO using internal backlinks is something which will continue to be favoured by Google and although it’s value has always debatable, it seems that Google is not condemning it.
    I also think that high quality PR backlinks are still worth chasing and your mention of blog posting does still work to a degree providing you provide good content in your posts which will add value to the blog owners own content.

  39. July 29, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink


    Thank you for your honesty on this topic. This has been my feeling also –since early 2013. You are one of the handful of IM experts that I allow into my email inbox these days. Glad I followed the link to this post.


  40. July 29, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    There is huge confusion is going on in field of SEO because what happens right now if you would work in bulk on keywords then it could be out of ranking and on other side if you would work in less number then that keywords perform well. So from my opinion now google is looking only quality rather than quantity in SEO efforts.

  41. July 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Hey Matt,

    A very thought provoking article. It seems to me that you have to a mix of things these days, but Google seems to be placing a lot of emphasis on social signals.

    I found that Pinterest brought a lot of traffic to my health niche blog that had lost traffic following the Google algorithm changes.


  42. July 29, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi matt,

    Very good post. But tell me what is solution for it. Google always changes their polices as per their business profit. What is alternative option for it.

  43. July 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    It’s really crazy that we’re all in the same boat talking about SEO, and all the Google changes. I think, I’m going to throw the towel away and focus myself on something else. Basically Google will keep on making more changes, and the best thing is to find a different business model that works well. Really appreciate all the tips, and suggestion, I will definitely try something else now. Thanks again!

  44. Trev's Gravatar Trev
    July 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    hey Matt a great post (and you certainly have the authority and experience to submit your blog post) however SEO still works and deserves every attention depending on a persons marketing style. Organic can be tough and Paid perhaps a little simpler and Youtube although it has it own unique internal search and SEO differentials for searching within Youtube will get you in organic Google search as well with a little research and carefully combined keywords. I think after all the Panda and Penguin updates the message is loud and clear with genuine and relevant content and links that relate to any relevant content and links whether inbound or outbound. SEO is not dead just transformed. Riding the ranking of other giants is smart marketing and so to be involved and active will just boost an overall search exposure.

  45. July 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    SEO might be dying but I believe you can’t get too careless about not having basic SEO principals in place.

    I say that only because search spiders still look for related links, keywords, back links and more when indexing web pages.

    If you don’t know what you’re doing with paid traffic you can lose your shirt. At least do the basics and be sure to really learn paid search the right way. –w

  46. July 29, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for the article. I don’t believe SEO is dead, rather the playing field has changed. Over optimisation is dead!

    These days my focus on a SEO level is almost purely technical i.e. ensuring Google can read the page correctly. Optimising for the way Google reads a webpage, nothing more. (of course depending on the size of the site, there is a lot of complexity in this) It sounds very basic but in truth that’s where I believe SEO has gone, back to basics.

    Once the basics are covered from a technical point of view, the real juicy stuff is relevant, quality and shareable content. Spending money on quality content I find far more valuable than spending money on quality links. While I still incorporate keyword families according to certain pages etc, it’s never about stuffing or forcing the issue. Rather letting the content speak for itself. The keyword families are set up according to the content that is available.

    If the content is relevant and the technical is taken care of, the keywords will naturally slot into the right places. And of course Social. While to understand exactly how much this effects SEO is still up for debate, the fact is, it does effect SEO. While I agree you can’t have your eggs in one SEO basket, PPC is a vital cog. However as an SEO we need to adapt and broaden our marketing skill set to include the likes of social and PPC etc. With a different focus and outlook on SEO, I still believe it is extremely powerful.

    Thanks for your insights, always insightful! I’m looking forward to reading more on your Amazon adventures.

  47. Joe's Gravatar Joe
    July 29, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt

    I’m having success on Amazon as well but still some pure blackhat guys outranking me. What sort of linking strategy you going for?

  48. Steve's Gravatar Steve
    July 29, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Hey Matt,

    Sorry my friend but i have to disagree SEO is alive and well and will be for a long time. I first got in to SEO after buying yours and Terry Kyles SEO Expert course a few years ago and was totally addicted by SEO. Its become a hobby to be me now trying to out smart the mighty G and I must say winning a lot of the time and banking a few dollars along the way.
    Ok I admit I’ve been hit big time with a few sites but you just bounce back and crack on with the next challenge.
    Being beaten by G just inspires me to continue.
    My advice would be SEO against paid traffic anyday in my opinion. I reckon Google already have enough dollars in their account.


  49. July 29, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt
    Thanks for sharing your new insights….I have to say though, that I do not agree with you on this one!

    I run several websites and even though I have been experiencing Google dance I still get tons of free traffic from Google (and my income is okay).

    I think it is essential to create unique content and add unique value if you want to succeed today. It is not possible to out smart Google on the long run, but if you write about something you are passionate about and work hard to become an expert…. then it is indeed possible to get ranking. And if you want rankings you need to do good and honest SEO.

    SEO is NOT DEAD, no way!!! Spammy SEO is dead 🙂

    Good luck with you upcoming product launch 🙂

    Kind regards

  50. July 29, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    I’ve only been involved in Internet marketing for a short time but even so it’s been glaringly obvious to me that everything you say in your post is true.

    Whilst it’s certainly good to practice good SEO I think that it’s more important to focus on the quality of your traffic. I believe that if you offer good quality content that’s well-structured and updated regularly, along with visitor interaction, then your SEO will largely take care of itself.

    I think that newer Marketers such as myself are much less affected by the various Google animals because, if we’re doing things the right way (which everyone should be anyway) then we’ll be more likely to look acceptable in the eyes of Google.

    There are even some established Marketers who don’t bother with SEO because they’ve been doing things the right way already. I know that my mentor doesn’t touch SEO and doesn’t know SEO, yet he’s done very, very well for himself for years without it!

    It’s those who have spent years first and foremost writing for Google and obsessing about SEO who are worrying the most because now they’re having to change their approach and write how they should have been doing to start with – delivering quality content and focusing on their visitors. This isn’t to say that they’ve been doing anything wrong by paying attention to their SEO, but I think the problem lies with those who have been putting that first and treating as though it’s the be all and end all of everything. So now they’re having to change their approach they’re panicking.

    Thanks for the awesome post, Matt. Hopefully it will help some to think outside of the ‘Google box’.

    Kind regards,

  51. July 29, 2013 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Great article and take on how seo has changed. I do disagree with a few of your points however Matt. I apologise if the following comment is a little long but I have a lot to share about seo and rankings.

    For awhile I held the same views as you and was feeling very sorry for myself being a hater of the “evil” corporate and extremely greedy Google. But, I then slapped myself awake, dusted myself off and started to rank sites again.

    Not everyone can turn their back on seo.

    There are certain business models which need seo – such as established businesses that do not operate in the IM industry but need to reach their potential clients online. Just like organic search there is limited space in the google adwords SERPs and there is now too much competition to make this a financially viable business model for most companies.

    The fact that established seo professionals such as yourself have left the game is a great indication that the competition in seo is almost non-existent these days – a great reason to be doing seo (as long as you know what you are doing).

    There are a ton of seo tools available that let you reverse engineer the top sites on google with just 1 day’s work. So no matter what changes Google make you can adjust to them easily.

    Obviously with the Google algorithm changing constantly this research needs to be constant but with so little competition it is a small price to pay.

    We have noticed that although the algo keeps changing (literally every few weeks) these are just tweaks and not full blown changes. Even Penguin 2.0 merely changed how the algo deals with EMKs (exact match keywords) and EMK Variations in backlinks.

    When core backlinking values and on-page factors are adhered to a site will simply move up and down on the first page with each algo change.

    Seo is not dead it is merely evolving…and what is more we are only talking about Google seo. There are other search engines that generate traffic in enough quantities to create multi-millionaires. I know several people who have made millions targeting only Bing & Yahoo.

    Penguin 2.0 also placed more emphasis on ranking sites that use high percentages of EMK Variations after Penguin 1.0 targeted over optimization of EMK – thus showing that Google are aware that they broke their own algorithm.

    Regardless of what Matt Cutts said, Penguin 2.0 was an attempt to make the SERPs more relevant and fix the damage caused by Penguin 1.0.

    In fact there is strong empirical evidence to suggest that almost every teak since Penguin 2.0 is an attempt by Google to fix their algorithm and make their SERPs more relevant (good news for seos).

    Lastly, I would like to say that Search relies on seo to make the SERPs relevant. Google’s Penguin fiasco proved that their algorithm is simply not intelligent enough to identify and then rank relevant sites without the help of search engine optimization.

    Penguin 2.0 showed that Google are aware of this and have made changes to incorporate seo-ed sites back into their SERPs.

    Google will also be aware that the history of the Internet shows if a search engine is not relevant then people will slowly but surely start using another engine (think alta vista and yahoo).

    Bear in mind that “Search” is the ONLY profitable Google business model. Nothing else makes them money. So, if they destroy their search results they will effectively destroy their own company.

    Let me reiterate – seo is actually now easier than it has ever been because there is virtually no competition.

    Operating 1 of only 3 companies that could guarantee a Google number 1 spot prior to Penguin 1.0 (yes it was possible & easy regardless of what anyone says) I will concede that it is no longer possible to make such guarantees. However, anyone who has continually upgraded their seo knowledge and knows how to reverse engineer rankings can guarantee a page 1 placement now and usually within a few days or few weeks even for fairly competitive search phrases.

    Again I apologise for the length of this comment but in truth it could have been 10,000 words long if I had covered everything 😉

    Richard Merry Reply:

    Michael, I’ve being doing SEO for a few years and kept up to date on it all. I do agree with Matt on his post with traffic diversity a must for longevity, but I do 100% aggree with what you said, you are very much spot on and was good to read. Google does understand that SEO is important as matt cutts explains here and if you work with them and provide relevant engaging sites then SEO is very much live and kicking and can be very powerful. With the amount of people moving away, it leaves more opportunity for us 🙂

  52. July 29, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    I’d encourage everyone here to register at SEMRush and take a look-see at not just your site(s) but also few competitors and other sites you like – and you’ll see that 90+% of them have ALL been punished or systematically strangled for ranking keywords to some degree by Google. It’s a huge reality-check for those of us chasing the illusion of any meaningful ‘recovery’.

    SEO may not be completely dead, but the ROI of SEO has been so decimated — WHERE you invest your time, energy and money must be laser focused moving forward.

  53. BillNBPI's Gravatar BillNBPI
    July 29, 2013 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt:

    Good to hear from you again. As usual you picked a good topic.

    I will keep this fairly short and to the point.

    I think Google’s evil plan is working. Push out as many SEO’s as possible, push out small business with no money to spend on Adwords by making it more costly to rank organically. Reduce the space available in the SERPs for organic listings. Pretend they are an honest upright company and butter would not met in their mouth.

    I really enjoyed Greg G’s post above and largely agree with with most of it.

    There really is no one on page one organic who is not breaking Googles TOS and are therefore all blackhat in Googles eyes.

    I am doing well with tough keywords in competitive markets with high prices and therefore the ROI works. Got bashed about a bit with some sites but worked through it and plan on keeping my SEO going as long as we are making good money from it.

    Having said that I am always interested in other ways to make money.



  54. Faizan's Gravatar Faizan
    July 29, 2013 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    So it means what we learned in Seo experts academy is not that useful matt?

  55. Joe's Gravatar Joe
    July 29, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Good article. I have learned a lot from Matt over the past few years. He is a strong internet marketing leader. When major changes occur, I look forward to seeing what Matt has to say.

    I believe it is very obvious to develop a brand. Matt Cutts could not be more clear about it. I stopped SEO in October 2012. Trying to Manipulate search (which really is the definition of the meaning SEO now) is too MUCH work that really provides no value to google and no long term wealth you you.

    After having to redo things for a second time all over again in 2012, it was enough for me. I spent well over $100k on many strategies. At the time, many were successful and we made our money back, but where it hurt was it did not create no long term value. Building a brand creates long term wealth.

    There is no logic on natural ranking. Sorry to the people selling this service. Do not waste any money with these out dated SEO companies. You are paying for a service that provides no future guaranteed results and no long term wealth for you, since natural rankings will continue to change.

    Joe Reply:

    And I can support what I have indicated. Proof is in the numbers:

    2011 – Sales up 32%
    2012 – Sales up 35%
    2013 – Sales up 61% ytd.

  56. July 29, 2013 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt, I agree with some aspects of what you say on this post, but I don’t agree that good on page S.E.O. is a waste of time, if you want your site to be found.

    I have given up on building lots of links through article marketing, and I don’t really try to build links, and have found that I seem to be getting some anyway.

    YouTube is a great way to get your site ranking, so I make a video for every page of my site.

    I always look forward to your posts, they always have good advice and the products that you promote are quality products.


    O.K. the videos usually rank well, but not far behind the page that the video is on, is not far behind.

  57. July 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    I’ve learned a lot from your posts and SEO course, but never were able to make some serious money on affiliate websites.

    Now I’ve got two webshops up and running of one with private label products. Selling through Amazon is someting I have to look in to soon.

    Regarding to SEO. For my webshops most of my sales are through organic search. So SEO still matters a lot to me.


  58. July 29, 2013 at 9:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt,

    Another great and a very insightful post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.


  59. rock marsh's Gravatar rock marsh
    July 29, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    Well, haven’t we seen this coming? I mean Google has been making these changes for years. And all the changes were directed at eliminating the little sites from the search engines. So shame on us for ever wasting our time buying SEO info products from anyone. Whatever the new SEO product of the week is, it becomes obsolete in a few months. People were all worried about backlinks, hah, now you have to get rid of them. It’s not just SEO either, probably 90% of the internet business models are becoming obsolete. The challenge is to find the business model that will last.

  60. Zaza's Gravatar Zaza
    July 30, 2013 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Hi, Matt, I agree with you that marketers should not rely only on SEO, but I think that a website with Google organic traffic performs better than with any other traffic. So what should we do? I think the way out is to concentrate more on social presence to boost rankings and to find keywords that will rank with little or no backlink building.

  61. Paul Warner's Gravatar Paul Warner
    July 30, 2013 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    An amazing amount of comments with such variation of opinion, some truly knowledgable as to how this all works, but I do think that when a company, Google, has that much power to force us to have to continually discuss the right and wrongs of something or whether this works, or that works, then it is time to really evaluate your options, the best plan to follow, the least threatening for the amount of work and money we put in, the least amount of stress, and a direction where we do not have to fear an axe over our head, for every
    neuroitic change it wants to make. There are only ten spots on a Google page for a keyword, of which probably the first four spots matter, and considering all the crap that goes on as to marketers trying to beat the system, with this loophole or that loophole, and a company that holds us subservient to it’s every whim and wish, and a company that definitely shows signs toward leaning to where the big money is, and not the little guy, as per the direction of our country, I would say look for different paths where we do not have to fear the “big bad wolf”. My only fear in learning what you are doing and how to do it, speaking of Amazon, is that they too will eventually come up with ways to nullify the little guy, and hopefully you have answers to being able to stay ahead of these possibilities. Other than that bring on something new and exciting, something safe, something we can have pride in, and something that provides us a chance to protect our futures. .

  62. July 30, 2013 at 2:00 am | Permalink

    I agree with you Matt. I shifted from SEO to paid traffic a short while ago.

    A lot of people say that SEO is the best way to get traffic because it is free. But it is not free. You have to pay with your time and that’s something you never get back.

    It takes a lot of time building backlinks and getting search engine rankings… and in the end there are no guarantees that you will rank for the keywords you want.

    I have also noticed that a lot of keywords are getting fewer searches than previous years. For example, in 2011 I tried to rank for the phrase “how to get buff”. At that time it had 6.600 searches a month – today it only gets 1.300 searches.

    I think you can still make good money with SEO. For example, there are an almost unlimited amount of lead generation keywords that has zero competition but a high dollar value per customer.

    But besides that, I don’t bother wrestling with SEO. My main focus is paid traffic combined with affiliate marketing.

  63. dave's Gravatar dave
    July 30, 2013 at 3:35 am | Permalink

    SEO may be dead, (or not) but I am a paid customer of Rapid Profit Formula and Rapid Rewriter. I am wondering why you pulled access to your course

    This type of business model my not be your cup of tea anymore and I know you want to promote Amazon FBA model, but customers of yours who want to stay with the smaller niche approach, (such as Forever Affiliate by Andrew Hansen), should continue to have access to the course they paid for or be issued a refund.

    Also, why no support desk to answer customer concerns and inquires? Looking forward to hearing from you, since all attempts to get an answer via direct messaging have been ignored. I know this isn’t the proper forum to address these customer-related questions, but I have no where else to turn to get a response from you.

    What say you, Matt?

  64. Michael's Gravatar Michael
    July 30, 2013 at 3:35 am | Permalink

    Doing Keyword research lately and analysing the top 10 competition in Google I regularly see crappy low-quality sites still ranking. Just the other day I saw a terrible low-quality site. The guy had built 10,000+ backlinks in 1 month, all coming from less than 20 sites, and not only had the Almighty Google NOT punished him for this obvious black-hat SEO work, they had REWARDED him with position 4 on the first page! And this in the post-panda, post-prenguin Age. Seems to me SEO, even black-hat SEO is still working very nicely for a lot of people. It also shows that Google’s Algorithm is not as all-knowing and powerful as people think.

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Hey, Matt here, I'm a full time Super Affiliate, 33 years old, and live in New Zealand with my wife and son.

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