Hiring An SEO Company

Let’s be honest, we all want to save money wherever possible. Sometimes it makes sense, driving across the street to save 5 cents a gallon on gas or negotiation a better price when buying a house. However, there are plenty of times that you get what you pay for.

When we are talking about the future of your business is it worth saving a few bucks to risk having someone screw up your site for years to come? Unfortunately many business owners don’t think of it this way and they suffer the consequences.

How Much Should SEO Cost?

The term SEO means a lot of different things to different people, even SEO agencies don’t agree on exactly what it means. For some it means ranking highly in the search engines, for others it is simply optimizing the website to increase chances of ranking. Unfortunately for some it means it means spamming the web.

Then we come to price, in our years of SEO experience we have seen quotes from 6+ figures a month for SEO down to $3 a month. With a gap like that it is no wonder businesses are confused about what is good and what is bad. At least with a car you can see the difference between a Pinto and a Maserati. With SEO however most the time it’s difficult to nail down exactly what is being done for that price.

This is not to say that expensive SEO is not worth it, imagine a personal injury attorney in New York City. There are around a thousand people a month that search for this and related terms. The average income these attorneys can make per new client is about $30k. If they can bring on 100 new clients a month that is a whopping $3 million per month! If they pay an SEO agency $250k per month for those new clients that is a great ROI.

Everything is relative when it comes to cost. On the other side of the equation there are companies charging under $1,000 a month that are producing huge ROI for their clients. Price does not necessarily equal results. However when you see numbers that are drastically lower or higher than the norm it’s important to understand why.

Risks of Cheap SEO

With SEO there are certain costs of doing business if you have a reputable SEO company. While methodologies for achieving rankings can vary there are certain elements that cannot be skipped. Cheaper SEO companies are typically cutting corners in one area or another. Some are not even experienced enough to know where they are cutting corners. Some people are outsourcing to a third world country, this isn’t always a bad thing as long as they are supervising what is going on.

The issue typically comes in when SEO practitioners use automated (aka spam) tools to do most of the work for them. While one company may go out and manually post in forums  and add thoughtful comments on authority websites on your behalf the cheap SEO will be using a tool.

It may not sound that bad, however if you read the comments that the tool is creating you may think otherwise. Here is an example of a comment that was posted on one of my sites:

“What key element components served your being successful in increasing your organization? Was it accessibility to capital? Setting up? Fantastic Management? Being a fantastic marketer?”

And another:

“The very don’t have, your lady declares, would likely produce a drop in the standard goods and services and so coerce sometimes firm organizations bankrupt.”

These types of comments are posted right next to a link to your website with your company name there for everyone to see. This can be very damaging to your brand not to mention your rankings.

However these aren’t even the worst forms of SEO.

The Bottom of the Barrel

The above examples are very low quality SEO and they can hurt your site, however sometimes it actually works. While we highly recommend staying away from companies using these spam type tools, they aren’t the worst.

In fact you may be surprised to hear the big name brands tied to what we would refer to as the worst forms of SEO. Hopefully if you’ve seen them or there prices a red flag has gone off in your mind that something was fishy.

We are talking about SEO offered by hosting companies. I’m sure you’ve seen it, GoDaddy offers to do your SEO for under $3 a month or HostGator for under $15 a month. While these brands have a high degree of trust their SEO could be devastating to your website.

When most reputable SEO companies are quoting $700+ a month to work on your site you may be wondering how they can offer their service for so cheap. I can tell you it’s because they aren’t doing anything valuable. Most of these services simply submit your website to search engines, meaning they tell these search engines that your site exists.

If you wanted to do this yourself it is actually free and takes less than 60 seconds to do. They will sell you on the fact that you can save time but what they don’t tell you is there is no need to do this.

Let’s travel back in time a bit…

In the early days of search engines the speed of the internet was much slower, storage space was expensive too. Webmasters would have to submit their site through a form so the search engines knew they existed. There was no clear leader in the search engine space. Google was just getting started. Altavista, AskJeeves, DogPile, Yahoo and others were leading the way however there was no clear leader.

Fast forward to today where there are basically 2 search engines Google and Bing (Yahoo search is powered by Bing). Storage is cheap and speed is beyond fast. Search engines scour the web and find new websites automatically and most of the standard CMSs (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc) will automatically notify the search engines when the site is built.

The next question it typically “how would this be bad for my site?”, submitting to the major search engines isn’t bad and won’t hurt your site. However these cheap SEO services don’t stop at the major search engines they also submit your site to hundreds or thousands of low quality statistic websites. These sites are just lists of domains with some basic statistics. Most of these sites are full of spam and extremely low quality.

Each one of these sites will create a page with a backlink to your website, if you’ve followed any of our other training you know that low quality backlinks can hurt your rankings. By the time these services are done you can have thousands of low quality backlinks pointing to your site. That is a recipe for disaster, especially if your website is brand new. This is way worse than the spammy SEO tools and will nearly guarantee your rankings plummet in the search engines.

To make matters worse when you cancel a service like this it doesn’t fix the problem. These links are there permanently the only real way to recover is by acquiring high quality links to offset the bad ones. Compare that to a new site with no links you are starting off way behind them.

A website with good links may take 10-20 high quality ones to begin ranking for their keywords, when your site has bad links you have to build good links to neutralize the bad ones and then additional links to achieve rankings. It’s based on a ratio too, so 1 bad link might be offset by 2-5 good links. Multiply that by thousands of bad links and it is all but impossible to recover.

What to Do If You’re On A Budget

The reason people usually purchase these types of services is because they simply cannot afford to hire a professional SEO.  Instead save your $4 and do a few things yourself.

We offer an entire guide on doing SEO yourself, implement what is in this guide and you will have a leg up on a lot of websites. Write more content for your website, this costs nothing and helps establish your expertise for potential customers.

Your not going to be able to compete against companies with huge SEO budgets but you can acquire traffic and leads by implementing what is included in the guide. As you grow your business consider investing money in to an SEO campaign or PPC.

When you are on a budget you will have to compensate with time there is no way around this, however you will be miles ahead of wasting money with junky cheap SEO.

Orange Fox is a BBB Accredited Marketing Consultant in Minneapolis, MN

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