It’s hard to hear when you’re starting a new business, but affordable SEO is almost an oxymoron.
SEO takes a lot of hours and that time costs money.
Any SEO agency that quotes you a low number is cutting corners at some point in the process to ensure that they can still make a profit.
In this article, we’ll be looking at affordable SEO, what it is and how you can get the best results on a limit budget.
What is Affordable SEO?
The first thing we need to discuss is what the term ‘affordable’ actually means. What’s affordable to one person might not be affordable to another. If your business is making millions in profit each year, then the idea of paying $20,000 per month might seem affordable. However, for most of us, that isn’t the case.
In general, affordable SEO refers to SEO that is on the lower end of a realistic budget.
Companies always want to save money. They are often looking for the affordable option rather than the best choice.
Unfortunately, SEO is generally either good or bad. There is little in-between, and good SEO comes at a cost.
Let’s look at five reasons why skimping on your budget is a dangerous idea.
You Can’t Do Much Without Money
SEO is a relatively resource heavy service. Most agencies will employ a range of workers to do specialist tasks, and the profit margins are small.
Research tasks, page optimization, and creative tasks are all resource and time intensive. They probably take far longer than most SMB’s realize. All of that time costs money.
An SEO agency is a for-profit business, and if they are only given a limited budget, there is only a small amount of time they can afford to dedicate to your business each month.
The two most important factors are content and links, Google has admitted this. Unfortunately, both of these need to be done by humans and smart humans are expensive to employ!
If you decide to hire an affordable SEO company then they are going to cut corners on either:
- The quality of your content
- The time spent doing outreach
- Paying for link placements
Either way, this is going to mean worse results for you. SEO isn’t one of those services where you can afford to skimp. You get what you pay for, and bad SEO can end up costing you more than you gain.
If you force an agency to take you on with an insufficient budget the only way they are going to make a profit is to use gray or black hat links.
You’re essentially forcing them to break Googles guidelines to make a profit.
You Will Lose in the Long Run
If you’re only willing to pay a small amount each month for an agency, then you’re going to end up with low-quality people working on your business.
There are two major problems with working with an ‘affordable’ SEO agency:
- There’s a higher chance of a penalty
- Your competitors will outperform you
In the worst case scenario the work that the SEO agency does end up having an adverse impact on your website. This is often the case with small budget accounts where the company uses PBN links and SAPE links.
It might take months or years for this penalty, all the time you’re paying them as they drive your business closer and closer to the graveyard.
If you do end up getting penalized, then you’re going to have to then hire a reputable SEO agency, at an enormous price, to take the many steps needed to remove the penalty from your site.
Hiring an ‘affordable’ SEO agency is short sighted.
Let’s say that you don’t get penalized. The agency just performs mediocre work on a small budget, and the results are lackluster.
Your competitors might not have been so cheap, and now they are soaring past you in the rankings, and you’re cursing your SEO agency.
There is only so much you can expect from a small budget. Your results will stink if you employ an ‘affordable’ agency.
You Won’t Get Assets
When you’re running an online business, your content and backlinks are your main assets. They are what create value for your business and what allows you to generate revenue.
Creating these assets is a huge time drain, and it’s impossible on a cheap budget.
An affordable agency is going to gloss over the idea of creating content or building quality links. Instead, they’ll likely throw a couple of PBN links at you per month and fill the rest up with blog comments and directory links.
Again, this is short-sighted. It prevents you from accumulating assets that will accelerate your growth in the future.
One high-quality piece of content might attract hundreds of links over the years. Without it, you’re sacrificing potentially much better rankings and the revenue that comes with that.
Scalability = Cookie Cutter
Every project is different, and each business should be treated with a bespoke approach that allows for the best results. That’s what we do.
However, affordable SEO agencies can’t justify the same costs that we have.
Instead, they apply a cookie cutter approach that means their clients don’t receive a unique service that would have given them far better results.
Many of these affordable agencies already know where they are going to get you backlinks from before you sign the contract. They don’t bother factoring in relevance; they just give you links from the platforms that they already have.
We all know how important relevance is to the longevity and power of backlinks.
By sacrificing relevance, you’re adding extra risk to your business and minimizing the benefits from the backlinks.
Instead of focusing their efforts on delivering a bespoke campaign, they use their resources on front-end sales, because they know their client retention will be poor.
Their goal is always to keep new customers coming in because so few will stay once they’ve seen the results.
We are different.
We put the client first and focus on results, working back from there to agree to a budget that gives us the freedom to work and you the best results possible.
Your success is our success.
Experience is Priceless
When a business is operating with low-profit margins and low prices they have to cut corners on the employees that they hire.
They can’t afford to hire experienced SEO’s who’ve worked on huge campaigns. Instead, they often have to outsource to foreign employees who don’t know what they are doing.
Obviously, this will mean that the results will be mediocre for you and they’ll also take longer to achieve the same goals.
Quality SEO’s know that they are few and far between, they understand the value that they bring to an agency. They would never work for the low wages that an affordable agency could pay them.
What Affordable SEO Packages Look Like
As a business owner, it’s important that you know how to identify the types of low-quality SEO services that are being sold to you. Here are a few things to keep your eyes on:
The cheapest agencies have a business model that relies on them taking advantage of unsuspecting and unaware business owners who are looking for results.
To do this, they fill their business proposals full of technical words and phrases that they don’t bother to explain to their clients.
They want to make it appear like they are doing more work then they are so that they can justify their price. All the while they are doing simple tasks that have little positive impact on your business.
Little Content or Link Acquisition
Content and links are the most important ranking factors. These are what your agency should be focusing on. Technical and on-page SEO is important, but the majority of their time should be spent on content and link acquisition.
If you don’t see the agency prioritizing these in their proposal, then you need to move on and find somebody else.
Without putting these two aspects first, there is no way that they can produce beneficial results that will significantly improve your rankings.
How Much Should You Pay?
Back in December 2011, Moz did a survey on SEO agencies. The infographic below shows the prices they charge, the work they do and gives a general overview of the SEO landscape.
Obviously, this graphic doesn’t factor in inflation and the increased cost of SEO in recent years. However, it’s still a useful graphic that should help to give you a guideline on what you can expect.
Solutions for a Limited SEO Budget
If you’re a small business that is looking to improve your SEO but has a limited budget, don’t fear there are options. Most of the time an agency isn’t going to be the right option for you.
Your budget doesn’t give the agency enough money to do almost anything, but with a little of your own time and some brain power, you can still get results.
Do it Yourself
The first thing to recognize will be that without a significant budget you’ll need to put a lot of the hours in yourself. When you pay an agency, you are paying for somebody else to put the hours in for you.
While SEO is complicated, you can master the basics yourself in a few weeks. In some cases, it might even be safer to handle it yourself rather than hand the reigns to a cheap agency.
The benefit of DIY SEO is that you have complete control over what is done. This means that you can control the places where you get links from, the strategies you use and the content that is published.
If you’re going the DIY route, you should make sure to spend some time learning about white hat link building, content marketing, and outreach. With these three principles, you should be able to generate results while staying in the clear.
Rather than employing an agency you might choose to DIY certain parts and outsource others. For example; you might be comfortable writing the content, but you might not know how to promote it.
You could use an outreach service that specializes in promoting your existing content.
This is a far cheaper alternative to an agency and will allow you to yield some results without sacrificing all of your time.
When you’re looking to outsource any part of your business, you should be diligent and check the experience of the people that you are hiring. Some of these freelancers might have worked for big agencies in the past, whereas other could be amateurs who are posing as SEOs.
If you’re still looking at hiring an affordable SEO agency, then we would suggest that you wait a few months. Taking the extra time to do some research and build up your funds might allow you to hire a better quality agency in the future.
The difference between cheap agencies and quality companies is night and day. You’re better off waiting a few months and delaying your results to save yourself a headache that a bad agency can bring.
Don’t be afraid to contact a more reputable agency and let them know what your budget is. They might be able to make some changes to allow for your budget or give you some advice while you save up money.
Affordable SEO is almost an oxymoron because the difference between quality agencies and the cheapest is so large.
SEO is a resource intensive industry, and the profit margins are relatively small. That means that the most affordable companies have to cut corners, giving you worse results and still taking your money.
With SEO you get what you pay for. Taking the time to build up your budget will give you exponentially better results and with a lower chance of being penalized by Google.
Employing an affordable SEO agency is a risk. Choose someone that can give you the results that you want.