A Comparison of SEO Services
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Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of connecting with your audience online and gaining visibility in the organic search results.
It is arguably one of the most important elements of an effective digital marketing strategy, and is an investment that every business should make.
But not one that should break the bank…
Luckily, there are plenty of affordable SEO agencies out there that can help grow your business online, but the challenge is separating the good from the bad; the trusted services from the cheap ones.
However, it’s easy to spot the difference once you know what to look for.
Discover the distinctive characteristics of affordable and cheap SEO services below and learn what to look for (and what to look out for!) when researching SEO agencies.
Affordable SEO Services
Affordable SEO services are an efficient way of implementing optimization tactics and strategies on a website to improve its online presence and visibility on search results pages.
Common traits of affordable SEO include:
- Experienced team
- Long-term strategies
- Proven success
Customized SEO Strategies
Every business is unique, and so should your SEO company’s approach to valuable optimization.
Each website an SEO agency works with is in a different situation in terms of how much of an online presence the website already has established (new website vs. 10-year-old site), and how competitive the industry and target market are; think New York City vs. Buford, Wyoming.
A standard, “cookie-cutter” approach where every website gets the same treatment is a pitfall many businesses find themselves in when selecting a cheap SEO service. The solution, however, is that SEO doesn’t have to break the bank, as there are affordable agencies that provide effective SEO services at reasonable prices. They offer a marriage of proper, proven SEO strategy and implementation, combined with a flexible approach to meet every business’ unique needs.
Understanding Your Business
Assuming to know and understand one’s business is another common pitfall of cheap SEO services. This type of SEO is generally focused on generic tactics that never achieve real results for business owners or worse–they enlist blackhat techniques that could leave business owners paying the price for years to come in terms of penalties.
Affordable SEO services provided by a reputable digital marketing agency will work with you to understand the nuances of your business, your goals and your competitive environment. Only by understanding these elements will an SEO provider be able to implement effective optimization strategies for your business.
The SEO Process
When selecting an affordable SEO company, the approach to optimization should be a multi-step process that includes the following:
- Definition of your goals
- Existing website audit
- Competitive analysis
- Keyword research
- Mapping optimization plan
- Implementation of initial SEO plan
- Monitoring traffic and performance
- Refining the initial SEO plan
- Content creation
- Transparent reporting
Trustworthy SEO agencies all have a process and will customize a plan for your business. They will utilize a long-term strategy, be transparent and actively work with you to reach your goals.
If an agency is promising #1 rankings, RUN! 🏃♂️
If they are promising things that seem too good to be true like an unrealistic number of leads, visitors, conversions, traffic, etc., chances are they’re not going to be a good fit for you long term. Even if they offer you a “money-back guarantee,” blackhat techniques executed by these companies can have lasting effects that will cost your business much more than the low cost you paid them in the first place.
The reality is, SEO results are not guaranteed. There are too many factors at play for reputable companies to invest the appropriate time needed to implement search engine optimization tactics and strategies.
You should begin with a clear understanding of what you are looking for an agency to accomplish and then work with your SEO provider to establish milestones and a roadmap of how they plan to keep working towards your goals.
Experienced Team of SEOs
Let’s face it, there are thousands of SEO agencies in the United States and thousands more worldwide, along with countless YouTube videos touting how easy it is to start an SEO agency from home. Frankly, the industry is flooded with options—options that often leave businesses owners with a poor experience and feeling like SEO isn’t right for their business.
Distinguished affordable SEO agencies have years of expertise, decades even. They have figured out a path that provides real results for their clients, along with an experience and price point that is accessible for their customers.
When making a decision about your first, or next SEO agency, we’d encourage you to look at how long they have been in business. Has it been a few months? A few years? Or has the SEO agency proved their status and have grown their SEO services over the course of a few decades?
Experience matters when it comes to successful SEO services.
Dedicated SEO Professionals
When you have a specific problem, you go to an expert, a specialist in the field. SEO is no different.
The practice of SEO involves a range of specific skill sets, including:
- And of course, creativity.
Having a dedicated team of professional SEOs, who focus on honing their skills, along with monitoring the constant evolution of search algorithms in order to stay ahead of the competition is key.
Effective affordable SEO packages utilize a team of dedicated SEO specialists, whose sole focus is improving your business’ organic position and visibility on the search results page.
Dedicated Project Management
SEO is only one channel of an effective digital marketing program. Coordinating approaches and strategies across multiple facets of digital marketing requires successful project and marketing management. Proper affordable SEO agencies will rely on the skills of an efficient marketing coordinator to oversee all digital marketing efforts. These coordinated efforts overlap multiple disciplines including:
Trust an affordable SEO team that can provide the expertise in not just SEO, but a complete digital marketing strategy—from development to implementation.
Transparent Reporting Metrics
Does the SEO agency provide clear, transparent reporting?
Oftentimes, they’ll create a custom dashboard for reporting, but the data is skewed. 🤦♀️
Proper affordable SEO agencies however, provide transparent reporting directly from Google Analytics. If your SEO agency is not providing you with access to your own Google Analytics account, or they hold the keys to your account, this is generally not a good sign.
It’s one thing to have an SEO company create, set up and optimize your Google Analytics account, but it’s another thing to have them control the data that you see.
When selecting an affordable SEO services provider, make sure to look for one who will provide you with unrestricted access to Google Analytics and make sure you own the account, so if you do part ways, you can retain access to your website performance metrics.
Google's SEO Recommendations
Hear it right from Google themselves. Check out their latest tips on hiring an SEO here:
You'll Know it's Affordable SEO When...
Characteristics of trustworthy agencies:
- Long-term strategy
- Years of experience
- Testimonials & previous work with companies in your industry
- Follow Google’s search guidelines
Cheap SEO Services
There is no one definition for cheap SEO since what is deemed “cheap” can vary greatly depending on the size of the business and budget.
But generally speaking, all cheap SEO services offer the same: fast optimization of your site for a very low cost.
However, these services are missing a key component: quality.
This type of agency chooses to sacrifice quality and performance, focusing only on the quick win; they’ll oftentimes use copy-and-paste techniques and black-hat tactics that rarely deliver results.
Generic SEO Strategies
SEO looks different for every business because every business is unique. But not in the eyes of a cheap search engine optimization agency.
With that quick win mindset, you can trust that there will be little effort given to understanding your business, the unique goals you have, the industry you’re working in or the competitors in your market.
That’s because there is no difference in strategy from one client to the next.
They take the same approach with every account using a cookie-cutter technique to present you with a generic strategy that lacks customization and flexibility.
This means that both a local business and a nationwide organization could be implementing identical strategies; a shop that needs eCommerce SEO will be shortchanged; and a company that serves a worldwide audience, won’t receive a global SEO strategy to support them. All of these businesses’ unique needs will be met with the exact same approach, inevitably failing to give any of them tangible results.
These agencies tend to take no interest in your brand, products and services and they will certainly not address your core objectives—let alone ask about them.
Not to mention, they will fail to consider the circumstances you’re currently facing like if you’re recovering from a recent Google penalty, or perhaps you’re a brand-new business just getting started.
They can’t help what they don’t know (or in this case, don’t want to know) and rarely do these generic strategies see any real, targeted results.
Missing SEO Assets
Cheap SEO services can seem like the whole package at first, offering some on-page optimization. But, successful SEO goes far beyond that.
These cheaper packages in fact, are not only lacking customization, but are missing vital pieces of an effective strategy: the high-impact SEO actions that will actually help you gain visibility in the search results.
That’s because an agency that focuses on speed and efficiency does not have the time, expertise or resources to create the valuable assets necessary to drive growth, like content creation.
Content provides the much-needed support and context for your SEO, helping users and search engines understand the value you have to offer. But quality content takes skill and research to produce. And unfortunately, cheap SEOs are not willing to put in the effort.
They’ll create low-quality content, often “spinning” someone else’s work into their own words but with poor grammar and blatant structural issues. In addition to wasting your time and money, this shoddy craftsmanship could also reflect poorly on your company.
Inexperienced SEO Team
It’s no secret: SEO services are only as good as the team working on them.
So a team of experts, skilled in their profession will deliver expert guidance and effective strategies, while a team still on a learning curve may not have the drive or expertise to lead your company in the right direction.
More often than not, you’ll find that cheap SEO services are accompanied by the latter.
Though the price is enticing, you’ll receive an inexperienced, lack-lustered team that delivers the quick wins, executes the fill-in-the-blank strategies, and offers the bare minimum as your sole digital marketing advisor.
Customer satisfaction and success are not the top goals for these agencies. They’re only focused on quick production, with quantity trumping quality every time. And before you’ve realized what’s happened, they’ll already be onto the next account.
Cheap SEO agencies are built on making a quick buck and—best case scenario—scoring the quick win.
They thrive on short-term projects and one-off clients because they can implement their cookie-cutter strategy and quickly wash their hands of you to move onto the next. However, we both know that that’s not how SEO works…
SEO is a long game.
You need to establish a strong foundation to start, and constantly maintain and evolve your strategy for months, even years after that to start seeing results. So how could a quick win approach translate into success for your company when they’ve barely made a dent in all the work that needs to be done?
Cheap SEO strategies rarely touch on the future or sustainability of your online business, so you can expect that there won’t be any long-term relationship with the agency, and with that, no long-term plan for your SEO.
And to make matters worse, you really don’t have any leverage in the situation, making it difficult to hold them accountable. Unlike a reputable SEO services provider, these agencies don’t care about their image, their [poor] performance, or your satisfaction.
High Expectations, Low Results
When it comes to cheap SEO agencies, you’ll find that they don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to earning your business.
However, they do have one trick up their sleeve that unfortunately works all too well.
That trick is promoting extravagant promises that they secretly can’t keep. 🤫
- Rank #1 in the search results immediately!
- We guarantee visibility and ranking within just a few days!
- Rankings to Page 1 in Google, Bing & Yahoo
- Money Back Guarantee. Don’t rank… don’t pay!
Now any real SEO expert would tell you that a guaranteed ranking in the search results is impossible. And that’s not due to the capabilities of an SEO team—that’s just because there are absolutely no guarantees with SEO.
And more importantly, how can a company guarantee anything before speaking with you about your business, goals, and SEO needs?
So yes, these extravagant claims to bring your business to the top of the ranks are too good to be true. But unfortunately, many business owners will buy into this marketing tactic.
And these outlandish promises then turn into high expectations which will quickly go unfulfilled when little to no results come from the agency’s efforts—or lack thereof.
The bottom line is, SEO can’t deliver immediate results. If an agency tells you differently, they’re making false promises.
Putting Your Business at Risk
At first glance, cheap SEO service providers are speedy and efficient with their optimization. But it’s when you look a little closer that you realize those characteristics are not as advantageous as they sound.
Cheap SEO is comprised of automated tasks that should be completed manually, black-hat techniques that go against industry standards and a team that will exert minimal effort.
These SEOs know exactly where and when to cut corners, and unfortunately, that doesn’t bode well for your business.
This type of agency isn’t concerned with the repercussions that could come from the shortcuts they take, mainly because it will be your company that suffers the consequences.
It is very easy to spot a company that is cutting corners and turning to sketchy sources to amp up their web presence.
So, not only is your integrity as a company questioned, but these actions will lower your brand reputation in the eyes of your customers. This could lead to an eventual loss in revenue and a gradual decline in your online presence.
Since cheap SEOs operate solely in the quantity over quality mindset, they don’t really take the time to advance their industry knowledge or keep up to date on, or even use, recommended best practices. This leads to using spammy tactics that can put your website in danger.
Like link building—what was once a process that emphasized the quantity of links your site needed to earn organic traffic, has now evolved, falling more in line with Google’s algorithms and best practices.
But, cheap SEO services have not evolved.
They will still entice you with a high quantity of links, but those links will most likely be acquired through an automated software.
This type of low-quality link building could lead to a Google penalty, meaning your website could be deemed suspicious by a search algorithm or Google evaluator and your site may then be removed completely from the search results, halting any and all inbound traffic.
And it’s not just Google you have to watch out for—users have the ability to report a website if they see spammed pages or an abundance of paid links, as well.
Cheap SEO is Costly
These services do offer a nice price tag, especially to those businesses working within a tight budget.
But the true cost of cheap SEO is not immediate; it’s gradual.
Think about it. You’ll waste time on emails and phone calls trying to communicate with your SEO team; you’ll waste energy on correcting and revising their low-quality work; and you’ll waste even more money when you have to hire a new agency to get you back on track.
So although it may be easy to choose a cheap SEO agency, your company will most likely pay more for it in the end.
You'll Know it's Cheap SEO Services When...
Characteristics of cheap agencies:
- Extravagant promises
- Low-quality website
- No long-term strategy
- One-off projects
- Automated link building tools
Affordable Vs. Cheap SEO Services Comparison Chart
|Affordable SEO||Cheap SEO|
|Multi-Step SEO Process||yes|
|Skilled SEO Team||yes|
|Additional Marketing Services||yes|
|SEO Website Audit||yes|
|Customization & Flexibility||yes|
Our SEO Services
We are not just a team of SEOs; we are a team of writers, designers, developers and strategists who believe that every business has the right to be visible online—no matter size or budget.
With over 20 years in the search engine optimization world, we have been able to test our techniques, fine-tune our approaches and develop affordable SEO services that deliver results for our customers.
We only succeed when our clients do. Combining modern marketing techniques with industry best practices, we can develop an SEO strategy that meets the unique needs of your business and focuses on driving organic growth in the search results.