Sometimes it’s not the SEO. Sometimes it’s the business model. Several times over the past 20 years I had to turn down a client. They wanted to sign, I just didn’t want them to.
A few years ago a potential client approached me with a new venture his company was going to launch. The parent company is a large firm with over 10,000 employees, but this startup division was what we were to optimize and advertise.
The problem is the business model was poor to say the least. They wanted to charge a substantial fee for something that was already opensource and widely adopted in the market. It was a new blogging platform designed to compete against WordPress. The blogging platform however wasn’t substantially better than WordPress, it was closed source and to make matters worse there was no “self hosted option” meaning that they wanted large firms to point to their url for their blog. Similar to Blogger.Com but without many of the features.
Their logic was “We are part of XXX, one of the biggest tech companies out there, others will sign up just for brand recognition”. After many attempts at convincing them that the product wasn’t ready, no amount of SEO will help them with a broken or incomplete product. I decided to decline their account (though they worked hard to get me to reconsider).
The problem is many startups or even established firms don’t fully understand that brand recognition doesn’t really cut it in today’s world in many online industries.
The point I am trying to make is make sure the business model works, though I can point out instances where advertising saved a shoddy product, that is the exception rather than the rule.
SEO can promote your product, but SEO can’t really improve your product. Same goes for advertising.