As you get started with Search Engine Optimization or look to take your traffic and rankings to new heights, the cost of your SEO provider is, of course, going to be an important factor. But with such an array of options (and pricing) out there; from the cheap-o offshore company’s who spam email you with “unbeatable” SEO offers to the super-sized agency with super-expensive pricing how do you know when the investment is right?
Let’s look at the cheap option first…
Of course getting a return on your investment is paramount, but don’t think that going cheap when it comes to SEO is going to be worthwhile. Unfortunately, going with the cheapest often comes at the greatest expense!
So you may have heard the popular phrase ‘buy cheap, buy twice’. But still, this is a risk many are willing to take. I have often had business owners say to me “I’ll go with the cheapest option and if it doesn’t work out, I won’t have lost much. I can always just upgrade to a better supplier later.” Let me explain why this is a very risky strategy in the case of Search Engine Optimization.
Unfortunately, the cheaper low-end 100 bucks a month suppliers of SEO tend to take short cuts. Because their margins are small they are forced to cheat and buy cheap ‘spammy’ links from sites such as fiverr.com where everything costs $5, or use link farms or link exchanges. The idea behind this is that the many, many links to your site will give it apparent ‘credibility’ and make it appear to be very popular, thus appearing credible to Google who in turn will show it higher in search results. It is a cheap technique for SEO companies to implement since it is automated and requires little or no labor.
Google, however, are wise to these tactics and have focused their Google Panda updates on making sure that using these automatic, manipulative techniques are a waste of time. To Google, the appearance of only the highest quality sites at the top of their rankings is paramount.
So still thinking that a cheap SEO provider might be worth the risk? Just in case you are, I’ll explain now why these types of SEO providers are not just a waste of time and money but are also DANGEROUS for your business:
Using the techniques I detailed above may cost a business immensely. At the end of February 2012, the entire de-indexing of some public paid blog networks, including much-used Build My Rank, meant that sites relying on low-grade backlinks from these networks fell foul. Ever since Google have been cleaning things up, removing entirely from the search results from any site that employs these spammy techniques.
Here today, gone tomorrow…
Some businesses have literally disappeared from top google results overnight with a catastrophic effect on their online traffic and thus sales. Many SEO companies have struggled to keep promises made to clients to keep their Google rankings high. Google have made it clear that they plan to de-index all similar public blog networks in the future and has issued hundreds of thousands of warnings to webmasters to improve their marketing strategies or risk a slump in ratings, or worse still, a complete de-indexing. This would have a catastrophic effect on a company, requiring them to completely rebuild their web presence from scratch with a new domain and hosting, plus new SEO at a cost of thousands.
Below is a graph that shows the sudden decline in visits for a client who left our services for a cheap SEO supplier. I hope this makes it clear: use a cheap supplier and suffer the consequences.
So how about the big expensive agency….
With higher prices should come higher quality. An agency charging several thousand of dollars per month is better financed to access effective and reputable resources. Quality SEO does take time and resources from skilled people: original and quality site content that engages visitors, custom videos and blog posts and other rich media placed on relevant websites are among the techniques that really work, and that Google favour. You can appreciate that this level of detail and skill needed means that good SEO will cost that little bit more.
Be wary when dealing with super high-end providers especially those that offer not only SEO but other services too as you may be paying above the odds. Most multi-disciplined Digital agencies will buy SEO services from wholesale suppliers and add a margin before selling on to you.
Effective SEO requires a large amount of resource and few agencies other than specialised services like ours have the capacity or inclination to invest.
So how much should you be spending?
Well, it’s fair to say that a provider charging only one or two hundred dollars a month will likely lack the resources required to get you results, more so will probably be employing tactics that will cost you far more than the sum of their services. It’s also true to say that if you opt for a large multi-service agency like the big blue chips use, you’ll be paying more for your SEO than you need to. So what’s my recommendation? Do your research and find an option somewhere in the middle that’s just right.