Falling into the trap of hiring a supposedly “affordable” SEO firm is an enormous risk which will likely wreck your business.
I want to stop you from making that mistake.
Throughout this article, you’ll hopefully understand why it’s so important to avoid this type of services, and what you should look for in a company.
Then, I’ll give you some advice on what to do when your SEO budget is limited.
Let’s do it.
What Exactly Is “Affordable” SEO?
Everybody has their own notion of what it means for some company’s SEO services to be affordable.
For instance, if your business is generating millions and millions of dollars in revenue every year, a sum like $5,000 a month could seem affordable to you.
On the other hand, if your company is making under six figures, this sum could seem ludicrous – so it’s all subjective.
There’s one thing that you’ll always need to keep in mind, though: Good SEO is never cheap.
Below are five reasons that’ll help you understand why is it that hiring an affordable company to do your Search Engine Optimisation isn’t such a great idea.
1. There’s Not Much You Can Do Without Money
When your SEO budget is low, your hands are somewhat tied, and there aren’t many actions you’ll be able to take. Basically, you’ll need to go for options that depend on time, and not capital.
Some time-dependent actions that will boost your SEO are page-level optimisation, keyword research, and some technical optimisation. You won’t be able to do all kinds of technical optimisation, since you’ll need a developer for specific issues, and they can be quite expensive.
Even if you excel in these three categories, you’re not going to get very far with them.
Keyword research along with page optimisation and technical optimisation are obviously better than nothing, but they’re not high impact activities and won’t drive much growth in organic searches.
The two biggest factors that’ll drive growth are backlinks and content. Unfortunately, these are among the most capital-intensive.
This is where affordable services tend to break down.
Since the most affordable Search Engine Optimisation doesn’t have that much capital, they:
- won’t be able to create quality content
- won’t be able to do proper link outreach
- won’t be able to pay for placement on high-ranking sites
In most cases, what ends up happening is:
They end up having to go cheap on content creation, which not only will not work but is likely to embarrass your brand.
They use grey hat or black hat techniques, which will end up getting your website penalised.
The truth about cheap SEO companies is:
2. You Lose In The Long Run
It’s understandable – you want to get the most bang for your back, and profit as much out of your business as possible. However, there are some things in life you really don’t want to go cheap on.
SEO is definitely one of them.
Think about it differently – would you try and get your wife the cheapest engagement ring you can find?
I know you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t do it because you can imagine the negative consequences it’ll have if you do.
The result is obvious: Your wife doesn’t get happy, and then you don’t get happy by extension.
Getting that out of the way, let’s get back to the cheap, or “affordable” SEO company. When it comes to this type of service, the problem isn’t as obvious as getting a cheap engagement ring for a fiancée.
This is due to the fact that the cost isn’t really immediate. It can take months of working with a bad Search Engine Optimisation company to realise things have gone wrong.
First and foremost, cheap SEO is likely to land you penalties. Even if their questionable tactics work in the short-term, you’re bound to lose in the long run. If the site gets penalised, you’ll need to hire another agency just to remove the penalty. It’s a long road to recover from that, and some websites never get back to their previous levels of traffic.
This is the most visible cost of hiring a cheap SEO company, but there’s more.
You need to consider the time and opportunity costs. When the site gets penalised, you’ve wasted precious capital and time.
You sure understand the value of money, time and business assets.
There’s another big problem when it comes to going for a cheap SEO route, which is:
3. You Will Not Get Assets
Backlinks and quality contents are real ASSETS for your business. They are a great investment which will continue to bring you value over the long term.
The bad news is affordable SEO services are not going to give you any of that. They simply have no capital to acquire great link placements or create great content.
4. They Use Cookie Cutter Strategies
In most cases, a cheap SEO company will resort to cookie-cutter strategies. These companies just are not able to scale if they have to do actual creative work.
A cookie-cutter approach to SEO will rarely produce meaningful results, and almost always be very low quality.
That’s because SEO is a dynamic skill. Even though its principles never change, every campaign has to be different, adapted to the clients particular brand, and their own interests and needs.
Cheap SEO companies tend to be unresponsive, too, as they don’t really have time to communicate.
In most cases, this kind of company allocates the majority of their resources to sales. They end up not investing all that much into getting your results. Since their model is based all around front-end sales, they don’t mind the high client churn rate.
Good agencies understand that SEO shouldn’t work like that, that it requires strategic pivots and plenty of creativity. They know no two campaigns can be the same.
Unlike scalable, front-end based models, quality SEO agencies optimise for client RETENTION. My agency, for instance, allocates the majority of our resources to improving and testing our services.
The philosophy is quite simple: When we focus on improving the service and getting better and better results, we don’t need to be too aggressive with front-end sales.
Here’s the takeaway of this point:
Usually, affordable SEO companies have a strong focus on getting more sales, not leaving that many resources for client fulfilment. Quality agencies, on the other hand, allocate their resources to getting results and delivering their clients a better service.
5. You Can’t Put A Price On Experience
Companies that claim to provide affordable SEO services do so by employing cheap labour. Cheap labour tends to equal inexperience.
Good agencies are more expensive, but that’s because they employ proven, legitimate experts. These experts are much more confident in their ability to get the results you need so they wouldn’t work for entry-level pay.
Do you know a good way to spot inexperienced SEO agencies? Check if they brag about how large their staff is.
Skill, experience and proven systems and strategies get results. Not large staffs of entry-level workers.
What Cheap SEO Packages Will Look Like
It’s easy to notice when an SEO package is low-quality once you know the basics of Search Engine Optimisation. Here are some things you should look out for:
Proposals That Are Convoluted Or Full Of Fluff
Cheap agencies will often inject a lot of technical jargon into the proposals in order to try and take advantage of business owners. This may make it look like they’re doing an enormous amount of work, but in the end, the vast majority of what they’re doing takes very little time to do, and will likely have little to no impact on your results.
Link Acquisition And Content Get No Attention
If you see an SEO package without a section for link acquisition and content creation, stop reading it and move on to the next. Backlinks and content are the most critical elements of a campaign, and an agency that doesn’t know that will never get you results.
How Much Should You Pay For High-Quality SEO Services?
Below is a graphic from Moz which will give you an idea about SEO pricing. It is a bit outdated and doesn’t really factor inflation or the rising costs of this kind of campaign, so take it with a grain of salt and remember – the lower the price, the less the company can do, and thus the worse your results will be.
3 Solutions For SEO On A Small Budget
If you want to see the benefits of quality SEO but don’t have a budget to hire a reputable agency, there are still a few options you can consider.
1. Do It Yourself
It can be hard to believe, but it’s true: Doing the SEO basics yourself tends to be better than hiring a low-quality SEO agency. It gives you control, placing the responsibility on you, and will even teach you about Search Engine Optimization.
A good thing about doing it yourself is that you’re the person who cares most for your business, so you want to do what’s best for it. As you study SEO, you can make sure to go for the safest and most effective strategies, and with the right guidance, you can definitely have success. Make sure to read and implement the tactics on our blog and our free SEO course.
2. Dip Your Toes
Once you start to understand the structure of effective SEO strategies, you can start to invest in the most important areas. Instead of writing the content yourself, you can hire a writer, for instance – and instead of doing link outreach, you can go for our blogger outreach service.
If your budget is really tight and you have no time, it can be best to build up funds and wait, then hire a quality SEO agency when you’re able to. After all, there’s only so much you can do on your own to help increase organic search traffic, and hiring and the unskilled team can do more harm than good.
Choosing right SEO agency for your business is a serious decision. Don’t fall for the affordable SEO trap, if something sounds too good to be true then probably it is.