Why Cheap SEO is Really Expensive

Why Cheap SEO is Really Expensive

cheap seo is a waste of money

Everyone wants a good deal.  Whether I’m shopping for a new car, camera, or television, I’m always on the hunt for the best price I can find.  And I’ve saved A LOT of money doing so! In fact, I have a nifty little app on my phone that allows me scan UPC codes and find the best price on the planet.  My wife and I replaced our refrigerator a few months back, and I saved over $300 off the best price I found locally by showing Lowes an online competitor’s price.  They told me that they don’t price match online retailers, but I was fine with that and began heading toward the door and my computer.  They made a phone call and ended up honoring the price.  Awesome. 

But I’m not always looking for the best price.  Sometimes, many times, I’m looking for the best quality.   Our new refrigerator is nice, and I got a great value on the thing.  But I’m here to tell you it wasn’t the cheapest model we could find.  Although I was good with cheap, my wife just wasn’t going for it.  She wanted quality.  And in the end, so do I.

This line of thinking is very important when we consider the value of your business. Most retail businesses don’t seek to lease space in the cheapest rent district they can find.  Why? Because it probably wouldn’t represent their brand very well, many customers would avoid their store because of personal safety issues, and they’d end up out of business because we all know location is key. 

However, there are many businesses that seek to cut corners with their online presence.  This can be deadly to your business.  Let me explain why.

A Behind-The-Scenes Look at Cheap SEO Pricing

SEO has changed dramatically over the past couple years.  What worked in 2012 can absolutely kill your chances of ranking today, and in some cases can even get you banned from the search results altogether.

Before Google’s algorithm updates, SEOs would utilize inexpensive software that would blast links to your site all over the internet. Why? Because Google considered every link pointing back to your website to be a vote for your credibility.  So the more links, the more credible your website, the more credible your site, the higher you’d rank in the search results.

This software is extremely inexpensive to run.  You literally download the system from the internet for a few hundred dollars, paste a domain name you’re wanting to do SEO work for, hit the “go” button, and you’re done.  You could easily manage hundreds of clients (charging them a few hundred dollars a piece), and hardly have to work at all.  Very profitable business.

Unfortunately for many of these “SEO professionals,” and more importantly their clients, Google made a shift in the way they rank websites.  Rather than simply counting the number of backlinks a website has, they take much more into consideration.

As a result of their efforts, they have been largely successful in reducing internet SPAM, and serving up more credible results to their users.  The problem is, rather than taking just a couple hours to manage an SEO client under the old system, it now takes an incredible amount of work to achieve the same results. 

Also unfortunate is that many “SEOs” have yet to awaken to the new reality of what it takes to be successful in organic search.

Good SEO Requires Man Hours to be Spent.

Unique, high quality content posted frequently on your website/blog, and other high authority websites, in addition to having a healthy presence on social media outlets, is what it takes to be effective today. 

There is no software that can accomplish this for you.  It takes relationships with high authority bloggers and editorial publication managers in your niche that will either feature your business, or allow you to contribute a guest post on their site. Time. It takes consistently developing unique content and posting it to your blog.  Time. It takes constantly serving up unique status updates to each of your social media channels and engaging your audience. More time.

The reality is, if you’re going to position yourself as a credible source of information within your industry, and enjoy the lucrative result of ranking high in the search results, you need to spend the time necessary to get there.  Depending on the competitive nature of your business, and the geographic area you’re targeting, this could take you anywhere from 10 to 100 hours or more per month. 

Still, even if you had the time to do it yourself, it would take you months to establish relationships with authoritative websites that would help your rankings.  So when I hear of an “SEO Professional” or an agency offering SEO for anything less than $500/mo, I get really nervous about the quality of SEO they’re providing to their clients.

Cheap SEO is Expensive SEO

Cheap SEO becomes expensive SEO when it takes you longer to generate a positive return on your investment than it would if you spent more but achieved high rankings more quickly.

Say you’re a dentist.  Say your average dental patient is worth $900.  Say you opt for an SEO plan that costs $350 per month. Say it takes you 6 months (if ever) to land on the first page of Google. Since we know that 90% of people don’t search past the first page when looking for a product/service, given this scenario, it would cost you $2,100 before you can hope to generate any revenue from these efforts.

On the other hand, if you had a much stronger SEO plan that cost more at $750/mo, but put you on the first page within the first 60 days, you would have spent $1500.  You’d then have 4 months to reap the benefits.

Let’s say this dentist only acquired 1 new patient per month for those 4 months. That would work out to $3,600 in revenue (4 patients x $900). So in reality, the more “expensive” SEO package was not only “cheaper” but it also generated revenue more quickly.

To put it another way, the $350/mo SEO plan was $4,200 more expensive than the $750/mo plan because we were able to accomplish positive revenue results much more quickly, and didn’t burn dollars for months on end.

Of course the math is much more complex than what I’m communicating here, and each niche is different, but my point holds true.  Cheaper is not cheaper in the new world of SEO.

My point is this. Don’t waste your time (or money) on cheap SEO. Not only are you risking penalties to your website, you’re also costing yourself real dollars in terms of monthly cash burn and lost revenue.  Do it right from the beginning.

Jeff Bickley

Over the past decade, Jeff has worked with numerous Fortune 100 and Start-Up companies to establish, reinvent, and re-enforce their brand. A serial entrepreneur at heart, Jeff has a passion for leveraging his vast experience to provide solid and timely advice to business leaders at all levels.

  • avatar
    Tony Brey
    Posted at 19:26h, 16 April

    In questions about budget and SEO, you should consider lost revenue and cash burn as Jeff pointed out in the post. If you have a startup with a small budget, you should look at all the other places you’re spending money and try to free up as many of those dollars as possible. Money you’re spending on infrastructure means nothing if you don’t have an customers.

  • avatar
    Anthony M.
    Posted at 18:52h, 16 April

    I have a startup and only have a small budget, what can I do?

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 14:16h, 17 April

      Hi Anthony, as I mentioned to Richard & Deb previously, you don’t have to break the bank in order to begin. It’s all about priorities. As a startup, you’re watching every penny. But see if there are any dollars you can free up as an investment in the future of your business. If it takes you a couple months to save up for your on-page SEO, that’s no problem. Get that knocked out first. Again, this could be enough to edge out 90% of your competition. You’ll make some money. Reinvest it. If it takes you another couple months before you can launch your campaign, that’s fine. Once you do, you can start hammering away at your top competitors and you’ll be top dog in no time. Here’s a secret. Most of your competitors have crappy SEO and negative history associated with their domain. If you start with a fresh website, and high quality SEO, you’ll be able to crush your competition in less time than you think. SO.. Save your money, get started with on-page SEO first, save, then launch your campaign when ready. May take you an extra few months, but you’ll get there, and you’ll have a long successful road ahead of you if you execute with precision.

  • avatar
    Gregory Kinney
    Posted at 01:47h, 15 April

    This is no joke. You seriously have to be careful what SEO work you’re doing on your domain. A lot of people don’t realize your domain name carries a history much like a criminal report. Make a bad move with a cheapo SEO service, and you could pay the price for a very long time.

  • avatar
    Posted at 11:26h, 14 April

    Get your business found by local customers with Local Search Engine optimization.If your local community doesn’t know about your services, or products, how will the they find you? Precise SEO service can help you target your local geographical area. Whether your business or website is located in Las Vegas, Henderson, or Austin Texas, Affordable SEO Services Las Vegas can help you get the visibility that you are looking for.

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 17:05h, 16 April

      Here’s an example of an “SEO Firm” doing their own SEO. Problem is, if you paste their entire comment in Google search you’ll come up with over 3,200 results. This is clearly a black-hat strategy that will get you penalized by google. Feel bad for their clients…

      • avatar
        Affordable SEO Services
        Posted at 02:08h, 07 June

        Hi Jeff,

        You are very right and while it’s painful to see our brand associated with black-hat SEO, this is a great example of what not to do.

        Unfortunately, we hired someone that lacked the high standard of integrity and knowledge that we require. We are currently working to repair all the damage that was done.

        Fortunately, this individual never worked on our clients sites and we would never perform these tasteless tactics for any of our clients.

        Thank you for being a great advocate for White-Hat SEO!

  • avatar
    Renee Thomas
    Posted at 09:31h, 14 April

    Great info! Found you on Stumbleupon. Keep up the great work! 😉

  • avatar
    Doug Faghirizadeh
    Posted at 23:26h, 13 April

    Hello there, just found your blog via Google, and found it really informative. Subscribed and coming back for more. Cheers!

  • avatar
    Deb R
    Posted at 16:54h, 13 April

    What if I don’t have a $750/mo budget for SEO though… Is there no way I can get my feet wet without spending that much money?

  • avatar
    Richard Herrera
    Posted at 15:08h, 13 April

    I agree, I would like to know if there are any more affordable ways to approach this than spending $1000 or more for great SEO. Or am I just shooting myself in the foot by even considering this?

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 14:04h, 17 April

      @Richard & Deb

      You both bring up a valid point. Not everyone has an extra grand laying around at the end of each month. In fact, I haven’t yet met a business owner who did. Regardless, there are solutions available for those with smaller budgets. It’s all about priorities. For example, you might begin with getting your on-page SEO taken care of first. Maybe you’re a startup with a super tight budget… If it takes you 2 months to save up for your on-page SEO, fine. Just get that done first. If done correctly, it could be enough to beat out 90% of your competitors. Maybe it then takes you another month before you can start your campaign. Great, get started then!

      The point is, you can ease into it. Just don’t settle for a cheap SEO. It’s better to establish a 6-month strategy of easing into high quality SEO than it is cut corners and doom your domain history forever.

  • avatar
    Sam Forrey
    Posted at 04:14h, 13 April

    Glad I read this. I’ve actually been in conversations with a Detroit SEO firm that is reasonably affordable. After reading this post, I called them back and asked questions about their methodology, and they confirmed everything you wrote here. They “build links” to your website, but they won’t tell you how they go about doing it. Upon further examination of a couple of their clients, I found links to their site with copy/paste content all over the internet. Totally spam. Thanks Brown Box Branding! You may have just saved my business. Seriously, thank you.

  • avatar
    Edmond Mallmann
    Posted at 12:42h, 12 April

    I needed to thank you for this wonderful read!! I absolutely loved every little bit of it. I’ve got you book marked to look at new things you post…

  • avatar
    Ryan McCance
    Posted at 12:25h, 10 April

    Wow, thanks for letting us see those spam bots at work. Very eye-opening. Hard to believe people are still doing this even though it’s clear that it will get you penalized. Did they forget to shut off their system after Google made their updates?? Crazy…

  • avatar
    Chris S.
    Posted at 10:07h, 10 April

    This happened to me. We were riding high on the hog until last year when Google did what they did. Killed us. We finally abandoned our domain and started fresh… Bad news.

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 23:41h, 10 April

      Wow… I’m sorry to hear about this. What a lot of these guys just don’t get is that when you are careless with someone business, you’re putting the livelihoods of the business owner and all their employees in jeopardy. Of course, a lot of people just didn’t know what Google had up their sleeve last year, so you can’t be too harsh, but it doesn’t take the sting out it.

      Feel free to give us a call Chris, we have Back Link Cleanup packages that have been shown to recover penalized websites rather quickly.

  • avatar
    costume jewelry
    Posted at 06:53h, 10 April

    Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job. I’ll certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m confident they’ll be benefited from this website.

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 11:03h, 10 April

      TO ALL READING THIS POST: This is a prime example of what I’m talking about in this post. I normally delete these SPAM comments from my blog (I get several of them per day), but for illustration purposes, I wanted to highlight this. Notice that this comment has nothing to do with the post. It’s very generic and vague. Although I always appreciate the complements, unfortunately the SEO agent “costume jewelry” hired is using out-dated SEO Methods. They’re blasting links across the internet. In fact, I copied and pasted this entire comment into google and did a search. It returned 3.5 Million results. Looks like this SEO has been doing this for quite a while. Problem is, this Costume Jewelry business is throwing away good money on these “services” and are probably being penalized by Google as a result. DON’T FALL FOR CHEAP SEO, PEOPLE. IT’S NOT HELPING YOU.

  • avatar
    how to gain weight fast
    Posted at 06:37h, 10 April

    excellent post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector do not realize this. You should proceed your writing. I am confident, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

    • avatar
      Jeff Bickley
      Posted at 11:10h, 10 April

      Here’s another shining example of Cheap SEO. SEO Software (SPAM Bot), posting thousands of blog comments all over the net. This one returned 34,000 results in Google. At least they’re friendly!