Cheap SEO – Is that what you want?

First off, no I don’t offer cheap SEO and this is not an ad for cheap services.  In fact, I have a philosophical problem with any business that brands their services as cheap.

Recently a client told me that their current SEO provider was cheaper and that they had various quotes that were also cheaper than my price.  So why did they engage me?


This is where all my new clients have come from during the last couple of years, so much so that I stopped even writing on my blog, almost.  I think it is great that people and companies feel comfortable to recommend me – it has taken a while to get here though.

The Problems for the SEO Company

It would hurt my head to brand my company as a cheap anything.  Introducing myself to people as the owner of a cheap SEO company would be tough.  That aside what about the numbers?

My SEO service cost are somewhere in the middle of my daily rate.  However, I much prefer to talk to clients about their return on their investment.  If they pay €500 per month for 6 months = €3,000 – how much more can they make as the result of that spend.

This reasonable pricing and good return make my life easier.  I work on projects where there is enough money to do what is required and pay me well.  That last bit is very important.

If I was running a low cost outfit I would be dealing with at least 100 clients per month at €100.  There would be no time to talk to a client and talk through any issues. Everything would need to be low cost – crap links bought from outsourcers, no SEO website review, no checking keywords.

Essentially I would know I was running a business that did not serve the best needs of my client and that the business was potentially hurting my client’s sites.  Maybe just me, but I wouldn’t sleep too well, and I think that is the case for 90% of SEO companies.

My last point is friction.  I would like happy clients, maybe that is going too far – at a minimum I want clients that are not always complaining, that can see and measure their return, I want clients that make more money as the result of my engagement.  I find it impossible to see how these would be possible if you are doing a hundred crappy bookmark links and spun articles for directories.

If you are running a cheap SEO business you know you are scamming. And that is just a crap way to live.

Problems for the Buyers of Cheap Services

When looking for my current accountant I never thought to search Google for a cheap accountant.  I wanted someone who was reliable, who was there at the end of the phone, someone who had a good reputation and knew what they were doing, and finally someone who would take everything off my hands and make sure I did not run into revenue penalties.

Penalties abound in Google search now.  Link warning from Penguin and content penalties from Google Panda.  These two alone can have your site drop to the depths of search results never to be seen again.

Google penalties are notoriously difficult to get out of.  Once a site has been hit by one penalty it appears to be more vulnerable to Google updates in the future – and as Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam team has said – you might be better starting a new site than trying to get out of the penalty.

Low-cost spam links can look like they are helping your rankings in the beginning.  Your site shoots up the rankings, you get into the second page, sometimes even the first – then bam.  Just as it reaches the high it suddenly drops.  Your rankings disappear your current traffic and potential traffic evaporates.

If you are building a business that depends on the internet you are bust.

But, I have to ask, what were you expecting?  Did you think you had found a way of gaming the system – that all those other SEO companies were just ballocks trying to rip you off with high prices?

If you are using cheap optimisation or link building services do a search for your company name.  What do you see?  Only your own website, good high-quality citations or rubbish written by someone who doesn’t care.

My last point here:  I have a friend who runs a service business, they complain a lot about the costs of the services they consume while at the same time charging clients for a premium service.  The low-cost services they consume distract from his business mainly his time.  It just doesn’t make sense.

Cheap vs Not

In SEO you don’t always get what you pay for, many can testify to that fact, (better you learn some SEO).  Clients ask me for higher rankings, better-qualified traffic, better conversions, tracking of key word conversions – this all takes time.  Surprisingly most clients don’t ask me for keyword research believing they already know the keywords.  However I provide this anyway whether asked for or not, I couldn’t reasonably take someone’s money without checking the foundations of their online plan.

I have one client that has been a constant client for the last 4+ years, they are in an ultra-competitive niche.  However, most small business SEO clients end up with a plan that lasts between 3 and 9 months.  The recent client mentioned at the top has been paying for optimisation for the last 3 years and sees little if any return.

Although I am more expensive each month I cost much less in the longer term.  I don’t bleed clients with forever services, so far no clients have had a Google penalty.  I want clients to see the results and come back to me every year or two when they run into any issues.  I want to train them to look after their own content and just get on with running their own business.

Your money, your choice – any thoughts?

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