Falling for the “affordable” SEO services trap will wreck your business.
I don’t want that to happen to you!
This guide will explain why you need to avoid these services (and what to look for).
Then, I’ll show you what you can do if you have a limited SEO budget.
Let’s jump in.
What is Affordable SEO?
Everyone has their own perception of what “affordable” means. For example, let’s say your business is generating millions in revenue every year. Then, $5,000 per month may seem affordable to you. If your company is making below six figures, then $5,000 per month would seem ludicrous. It’s all subjective.
There is one element of this argument that is true:
Good SEO isn’t cheap.
Let me show 5 reasons why hiring an affordable Search Engine Optimization company isn’t a good idea.
1. You Can’t Do Much Without Money
There are only so many actions you can take on a low SEO budget. The only actions you can take are those that are time-dependent and not capital-dependent.
Some time-dependent SEO actions include keyword research, page-level optimization, and some technical optimization. I say “some” technical optimization because you may need a developer for larger issues. Developers cost money.
With that said, you won’t get far with keyword research, optimizing pages, and doing some technical optimization.
It’s better than nothing. But, those are not the high impact activities that drive organic search growth.
The two biggest drivers of growth are content and backlinks. These two activities are also the most capital-intensive.
This is the point where affordable SEO services break down.
Since affordable SEO companies don’t have the capital, they:
- can’t create quality content
- can’t spend time doing link outreach
- can’t pay for placement on quality sites
This results in two things:
1. They have to go cheap on SEO content creation, which will end up embarrassing your brand.
2. They will use gray or black hat backlinks that will get your site penalized.
Here’s the truth:
2. You Will Lose in the Long Run
I get it. You want to squeeze as much profit out of your business as you can. But there are some things in life that you never want to go “cheap” on.
SEO is one of those things.
Think about this way… would you try to find your wife the cheapest engagement ring?
Of course, you wouldn’t because you know what the consequences would be.
The cost here is clear: your future wife won’t be happy!
And if you don’t already know this: happy wife = happy life.
Get used to these marriage analogies since I’m married now.
With that out of the way, the cost of working with a cheap SEO company isn’t as black and white as getting your fiance a cheap engagement ring.
The reason is that the “cost” isn’t immediate. It takes months of working with a bad SEO company to realize the cost. This “cost” comes in many different forms.
First, cheap SEO will likely land you a penalty. So, even if the low-quality tactics work in the short-term, you will end up getting nailed later on. If your site gets penalized, you will have to hire another agency just to get the penalty removed. Once your site gets a penalty, it’s a long road to recovery. In fact, your previous traffic levels may never recover.
And these are only the visible costs.
You also have to take into account opportunity and time costs. If your site gets penalized, you will have wasted precious time and capital.
You know the value of time, money, and business assets.
Now here’s another part that stinks if you decide to go the cheap SEO route:
3. You Won’t Get Assets
Quality content and backlinks are ASSETS for your business. This means they will continue to bring your business value for the long-term.
Here’s the bad news:
Affordable SEO services won’t give you any tangible assets. That’s because they do not have the capital to create quality content assets or acquire quality link placements.
4. Scalability = Cookie Cutter
Most affordable Search Engine Optimization companies have to use cookie-cutter strategies. That’s because these companies won’t be able to scale if they have to do any creative work.
SEO is a dynamic skill. While the principles of quality SEO never change, every single campaign is different. Every client is at a different point and will have different needs.
A cookie-cutter approach rarely works and will almost always be low quality.
On top of that, cheap SEO companies will also be unresponsive. That’s because they do not have the time to communicate.
These companies allocate most of their resources to front-end sales. As a result, this leaves little resources for getting your business results. They are fine with a high client churn rate because of their front-end sales model.
Good agencies understand that SEO requires creativity and strategic pivots. No two campaigns are the same.
And unlike scale-based models, quality agencies value client RETENTION. For example, my SEO agency allocates most of our resources for testing and improving our services.
My philosophy is simple: if we focus on improving our service and getting results, then we don’t need to be as aggressive with front-end sales.
Here’s the takeaway on this point:
Most cheap SEO companies focus heavily on front-end sales, which leaves little resources for client fulfillment. Quality agencies allocate most of their resources to getting results and improving their service quality.
5. Experience is Priceless
Companies that offer affordable SEO services have to employ cheap labor. Cheap labor often equals inexperience.
The point is:
Good agencies aren’t cheap because they employ legitimate, proven experts. These experts are confident in their ability to get your business results. Therefore, they would never work for entry-level pay.
Do you know how to spot inexperienced workers in an SEO agency?
Look for any type of bragging about how large their staff is.
A single SEO expert can run circles around entire SEO teams.
Experience, skill, and tested strategies and systems are what get SEO results. Not large staffs of entry-level workers.
What Affordable SEO Packages Look Like
It’s pretty easy to identify low-quality SEO services once you know the basics of SEO. Here are a few things to look out for:
Convoluted Proposals (and Full of Fluff)
Cheap agencies take advantage of business owners by injecting technical jargon into their proposals. This is an attempt to make it seem like they are doing a ton of work. In reality, 80% of the tasks they list either A) take a little time to complete and B) will have little or no positive impact on your campaign.
Content and Link Acquisition Get Little Attention
If you don’t see sections for content and link acquisition in an SEO proposal, then stop reading it. Content and backlinks are the two most impactful elements of a successful SEO campaign. If an agency doesn’t know this, then they don’t know how to get you results.
How Much Should You Pay for Quality SEO Services?
This graphic from Moz is a decent guide on SEO pricing. It is outdated and doesn’t factor inflation or the rising costs of SEO campaigns. Just remember, the lower the price, the less they can do and lower the quality will be.
3 Solutions for a Limited SEO Budget
Are you someone who wants to see the benefits of SEO, but have no budget to hire a good agency? That’s okay. There a few solutions to your situation.
1. Do It Yourself
Believe it or not, doing some of the SEO basics is often safer than hiring a cheap SEO agency. This gives you control and you are responsible for the success. It will also force you to learn more about SEO.
At the same time, your business is your baby and you want to do what’s best for it. That’s why you will want to use the safest, and most effective strategies. You can see results from SEO if you have the right guidance. Read, digest, and implement tactics from my blog.
2. Dip Your Toes
Once you understand the structure of an effective SEO strategy, you can start investing in the right components. For example, instead of you having to write content, you can hire a writer.
Don’t make a rash decision and hire an affordable SEO agency. If your budget is tight, then build up funds and wait to hire a quality agency down the road. Plus, there is so much you can do on your own that can help you grow your organic search traffic.
Hiring an SEO agency is an important decision for your business. Don’t take it lightly and most importantly, avoid falling for the “affordable” SEO trap.