Why Is SEO Difficult to Learn

Microsoft Brand Studio listed SEO as one of the 5 top hard skills to have, besides data analysis, copywriting, behavioral analysis, and automation.

Is SEO difficult to learn? SEO is very difficult because you must stay updated with over 200 ranking factors. Many of the 200 ranking factors are also qualitative making it difficult to assess how well or badly you are doing.

With over 200 ranking factors, many tried creating checklists to assess your websites accordingly. However, the qualitative nature of many factors and lack of feedback (except for a big ranking hit) means you may never know which factors are lacking or doing well.

Brian Dean, owner of Backlinko, wrote and categorized the 200 ranking factors before summarizing the key ranking factors for 2021:

  1. Referring domains
  2. Organic click-through-rate
  3. Domain authority
  4. Mobile usability
  5. Dwell time
  6. Total number of backlinks
  7. Content quality
  8. On-page SEO

Even within the 8 ranking factors he chose for 2021, It is difficult to determine what is a good number or value for each without going overboard. For example, from my personal experience of each:

  • Referring domains

Firstly, I don't believe in active backlink building. I do know having referring domains from authoritative sources like government sites are definitely good but how can you even get those naturally? The hardest part for this is getting people to link to you naturally.

For SEO, you usually end up sending emails requesting for a link back or sharing your "useful" resource to others. I received a couple of emails per years and some are reputable sites that I least expect.

While you or backlink builders try to filter sites with high scores in tools like Ahrefs or Moz, how do you know they don't link to other spammy pages that are undetected yet?


  • Organic click-through-rate

This metric is an important one and the best way is to have a great and unique headline. The difficulties is writing one that is click-bait worthy but still give what the readers expected. A boring headline is common as I tend to write what people are searching. Once a while, you will see an "inverse" result (e.g. why SEO is easy instead of why SEO is difficult) that is in the top 10, showing how Google provide diverse results based on searcher's intent.

  • Domain authority

Domain authority is more of the overall outcome from everything rather than building it up. You require lots of quality backlinks, trust metrics and good constant content that ranked well to even appear authoritative. As mentioned, I still receive emails from some bigger sites that I least expect trying to build links with my tiny sites, showing how much they work to find diverse backlinks.

  • Mobile usability

Mobile usability is a qualitative SEO factors that you cannot determine from your point of view. Some tools like Hotjar can record what your readers are doing and help you investigate each users on what they are doing. Another key aspect is speed as Google is going to start having load speed as a ranking factor.

  • Dwell time

Similar to mobile usability, dwell time require a great content and sequence of content to keep the users interested in reading longer. A community of discussions will also keep someone reading and seeing other's opinions.

  • Total number of backlinks

While total number of backlinks is good, it is important to have a good diverse source of backlinks to ensure you are not spammy.

  • Content quality

Content quality is a qualitative SEO factor that I aspired to have but it is difficult. Due to budget constraints, I tend to focus on releasing content first and refining the better received one. This is a concept from programming (continuous delivery) that I think work better than trying to get the best quality before releasing a post.

  • On-page SEO

On page SEO is overrated in my opinion and sold by SEO companies to give quick wins. On-page SEO does not give results if you do not have great content and great referring domains to your page.


Overall, I think SEO is difficult, given it takes months to rank a competitive content, and it is best to focus on content quality.

The ranking factors will change but having great engaging content with original content will remain a key factor to raise above the noise. This is similar to how companies like Netflix are investing in original content to win in the streaming industry.


  • https://www.geekpoweredstudios.com/what-makes-seo-so-difficult/
  • https://backlinko.com/google-ranking-factors
  • https://www.advancedwebranking.com/blog/seo-learning-curve-for-beginners/
  • https://www.quora.com/Is-SEO-really-a-hard-skill-to-learn
Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Author: Sky Hoon
Website Builder. He has a Bachelor Degree in Computer Science and loved to use technology to solve the world's issue, one at a time. For now, trying to blog for a living.
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