If you visit a popular freelance marketplace like Fiverr, you’ll see an array of SEO services for just $5 to $25. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything that costs more than just a few hundred dollars. From off-page to onsite to technical SEO – you can have it all for a tiny investment.
Run a quick Google search for SEO services in your industry and you’ll run across hundreds of SEO “agencies” (which are actually nothing more than one-man shops started by someone with an introductory understanding of online marketing and an affinity for drag-and-drop website builders). These companies will promise to provide intensive SEO strategies for a low, one-time price of $500 or less.
Cheap SEO services are everywhere. All it takes is a couple of spare dollars and you can pay someone to optimize your website, build backlinks, or improve search rankings.
But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Cheap SEO sounds nice in theory, but it’s not worth the headache or the hassle.
Cheap SEO, affordable SEO, low-cost SEO – you can call it whatever you want. We all have our own subjective definition of what “cheap” means, but it’s essentially any SEO package that’s priced well below industry standards.
While inexpensive SEO might fit into your budget, you have to consider whether it’s actually delivering a tangible return on investment. In many cases, the answer is no. And if that’s the case, it doesn’t matter how affordable SEO services are – they’re a waste of your time and money.
The moral of the story is that cheap SEO isn’t good, and good SEO isn’t cheap.
Just because someone is willing to sell you SEO services at a steeply discounted rate, doesn’t mean you should take them up on it. Here are some specific reasons why paying for inexpensive SEO is such a bad idea:
If you’re paying a so-called SEO expert such a small amount for their services, do you really think you’re getting their best effort? You’d be fooling yourself to say yes.
If an SEO is only getting 20 percent of the going rate for his services, you’re probably only going to get 20 percent effort. The other 80 percent will involve cutting corners, skipping steps, and automating tasks that should be done manually.
There’s only so much that an SEO can do with a few hundred dollars. He can conduct some keyword research, tweak a couple of technical elements on your website, and maybe even optimize a key sales page. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the financial resources to address the two most critical elements of any SEO strategy: content and links.
Without content and links, your SEO efforts are futile. It doesn’t matter how flashy your website is, or how many of Google’s rules you follow, you simply can’t gain the reach, exposure, or rankings that you need to generate results.
A single piece of content can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to write, edit, and publish. How do you expect to generate dozens of original articles and blog posts if you aren’t paying your SEO enough to cover these costs?
Affordable SEO companies don’t have the financial resources to produce quality content. If they promise lots of content at such a low rate, they’re doing something fishy. (Run a quick search for content spinning and you’ll probably get your answer.)
As for links, the second integral component of SEO, there’s simply no way to plan and execute a powerful link building strategy without money. In addition to creating the content, it takes a lot of time to network, establish relationships, and secure link placement on authoritative websites that provide actual value in return.
Instead of paying for quality links, a cheap SEO service will us gray or black hat techniques to find spammy websites and questionable blogs who will link back to your website. Eventually, this could lead to stiff Google penalties.
Search engine optimization is a highly unique endeavor. No two websites or companies can use the same strategy and generate identical results. A customized plan is necessary.
The problem with cheap SEO services is that they have to use scalable, cookie-cutter strategies to save time and improve efficiency. This means they use the same SEO strategy for both a national ecommerce store and a local bank.
If you pay for a cookie-cutter strategy, prepare to get cookie-cutter results. What you really need is an SEO service that learns the ins and outs of your company and develops a unique strategy designed to propel you to the top of the rankings.
While not always the case, someone’s pay is generally indicative of their experience. Someone who charges $100 per hour for his or her expertise is typically going to be more advanced than someone charging $15 per hour.
While there’s a time and a place for letting people improve and grow their skillsets through experience, you don’t want it to be at your expense. If you’re paying for the cheapest SEO package in the industry, you’re probably paying for someone else’s learning curve. That’s a big mistake!
Do you know what happens when you cut corners, miss key steps, and pay for a bunch of sketchy backlinks to point to your website? For one, you lower the reputation of your brand in the eyes of your customers. They can spot the difference between a company that’s well respected and one that’s taking shortcuts. Secondly, you run the risk of stirring up the ire of Google.
Google is okay with SEO – as long as you’re following the rules. They aren’t okay with black hat techniques that compromise the integrity of the system. If they catch you blatantly breaking the rules – which is often the case with cheap SEO – they reserve the right to penalize your site until things get cleaned up. This essentially kills all of your inbound traffic.
When you partner with a reputable SEO company, you’re typically working with a company that cares about its image and wants to cultivate satisfaction among its clients. When you partner with a cheap SEO service, they don’t really care. They’re in the business of generating as many one-off clients and short-term projects as possible. There’s no expectation of repeat business.
When your SEO only cares about earning a quick buck, there’s nothing you can do to hold them accountable. By the time you express your frustration with them, they’re already working on their next project. This leaves you with very little leverage.
If a business service is cheap, it usually means you’ll have to offset these savings with time. Whether it’s back and forth emails, corrections, revisions, or simply stress and frustration, the time wasted on cheap SEO takes away from the value you could be creating for your company through sales, marketing, or some other core aspect of your business.
Other than price, how do you identify a cheap SEO service or package? There a few telltale signs:
If you notice any of these identifying factors, you’re probably working with a cheap SEO service that will hurt your business over the long haul.
You don’t have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get quality SEO, but you will need to fork over more than a couple hundred bucks for a one-time service. SEO is an ongoing investment that requires precision and expertise.
It’s hard to put an exact figure on what quality SEO costs. That’s like asking what a good personal trainer costs. You might find a good trainer for $20 an hour, or you could pay $250 an hour. There are dozens of factors in play.
Having said that, anything under $1,000 per month is probably not enough to move the dial much (especially if you don’t have an additional budget for content). Small and medium-sized companies can reasonably be expected to spend between $1,000 and $5,000 per month on quality SEO. Larger businesses may spend $10,000 or more per month. (Again, it all depends on what your needs are and what’s included in the package.)
Okay, so let’s say you understand the need for high quality SEO, but you don’t have the room in your budget to pay for monthly services. What are some options for a limited budget?
There’s no singular strategy that works for every company. It’s up to you to determine what’s best for your business within the limited constraints of your budget.
At SEO.co, we don’t pretend to offer cheap, short-term solutions. We’re committed to providing the highest-quality white hat SEO services in the industry.
If you’re interested in an SEO strategy that’s built on original, exceptional content and that adds value to your target audience, you’ve come to the right place.