Pros and cons


Significant traffic driver

Search engine marketing can attract a significant proportion of visitors to the site if companies are successful at implementing it.

Highly targeted

Visitors are searching for particular products or services so will often have a high intent to purchase – they are qualified visitors.

Potentially low-cost visitors

There are no media costs for ad display or click-through. Costs arise solely from the optimisation process where agencies are paid to improve positions in the search results.


The search engine robots will crawl the hope page of popular sites daily, so new content is included relatively quickly for the most popular pages of a site (less for deep links).


Lack of predictability

Compared with other media SEO is very unreliable in terms of the return on investment. It is difficult to predict the results for a given investment and is highly competitive.

Time for results to be implemented

The results from SEO may take months to be achieved, especially for new sites.

Complexity and dynamic nature

The search engines take hundreds of factors into account, yet the relative weightings are not published, so there is not a direct correlation between marketing actions and results – it is more an art than a science. Furthermore, the ranking factors change through time.

Ongoing investment

Investment needed to continue develop new content and generate new links.

Poor for developing awareness in comparison to other media channels

Searchers already have to be familiar with a brand or service to find it. However, it offers the opportunity for less well-known brands to ‘punch above weight’ and to develop awareness following click through.

Adapted from

Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F., 2012. Digital marketing: strategy, implementation and practice (Vol. 5). Harlow: Pearson.

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