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Want Results Like These?

Cheap SEO Costs More

by Miguel Salcido

in Organic SEO

SEO4Bananas Having been in this industry for a very long time, I come across the same situations over and over again in regards to the cost of an SEO campaign. You here the same questions and concerns from clients. You here the same complaints and stories from them too. Everyone thinks that they can save a few bucks and go with a cheaper SEO campaign, after all its not rocket science! Well, in reality there are very few people that know how to do it right.

Only about every 2-3 years do I see something new in SEO that I have never seen before. I’ve just been around too long and worked with too many clients. I say this not to toot my own horn. I say these things in order to help you understand where I, and many other SEO peoples, are coming from. The ideas I am putting forth in this post are the same things that my SEO brethren all experience too.

Photo Credit:imnotadoctor

Cost of SEO

I can’t even remember how many people have decided not choose me for their SEO campaign and that end up going for a cheaper package elsewhere. Maybe it’s from India and maybe it’s your nephew who says that he knows SEO. Most likely it’s your web developer or hosting provider that say, “SEO is easy, don’t pay those guys that much, I’ll do it for half that!”

What ends up happening is that the client comes back to me after having wasted their $1000/mo, or $500/mo, for the past 6-12 months and are left with no results. Or at least not the results that they wanted, expected, or needed. Had they just taken my advice in the first place, or gone with a different reputable SEO consultant they would not be 6-12 months behind their competition and would also not be thousands of dollars in the hole. Had they spent just $1000 more per month they could be seeing an actual ROI by now.

craped-outBut instead they rolled the dice and crapped out. And their money lost has now become part of the cost of SEO, putting ROI even further out of reach. But to me the worst, and most costly, thing that happens in these situations is that valuable time has been lost.

Time Cost of SEO

This can be extremely expensive. The time cost of SEO is heavily influenced by what your competition is doing while you are not. But there are many things that influence the time cost of SEO. Imagine all the sales you have missed out on in the past 6-12 months because you are not ranking. Imagine all the market share that your competition has taken from you in the past 6-12 months. What if your competition has been spending more money on their efforts, with real professionals? Then you are really screwed.

How to Know if You Have a Good SEO Campaign

I’m not just going to carry on about how you need to spend more and choose good people for your SEO campaign. I actually have some ways that can help you understand if you are getting a good campaign.

First, do research on the person or company that you want to work with. Google their names. See if they are referenced in any reputable industry websites. Look for video of them too, its always nice to put a face with a name. See if there are numerous complaints on consumer sites. But be careful here because almost all of these “consumer advocate” sites (Ripoff Report, Complaints.com, etc) allow anyone to anonymously post whatever malice messages they want, and without any warrant of authenticity. But if you see many complaints from what appear to be different people (you can usually tell by the tone and the story that they tell) and on different sites then you can pretty much be sure that the company is bad news.

Get a third party to do an SEO audit of the work being done by your consultant, agency, or in-house people. Now this also comes with a word of caution because everyone has varying opinions of what is most important to the right techniques when it comes to SEO. So you have to take the SEO audit with a grain of salt. I recommend doing this so that you can get an “idea” of whether or not you are getting totally ripped off. This is not for you to nitpick at every little thing that the person auditing the SEO disagrees with. You have to be weary of the auditor wanting to steal your business away. If you can get a few different people to do the audit and that should be plenty to let you know whether or not you are getting totally ripped off or not. I will do another post on SEO audits at a later date so subscribe to my feed for that update when it comes.


The bottom line is that I can think of handfuls of reasons not to skimp on your SEO efforts. But most importantly is the huge cost of not getting a good SEO campaign. So please, if you are in getting ready to launch an SEO campaign make sure that you perform due diligence and that you not be afraid to spend on your SEO efforts. After all, SEO is still THE most effective form of online marketing. So if you spend hundreds of thousands on TV, radio, and print you should be spending even more on your SEO. Spend in the areas that have the best chance for an ROI. And nothing fits that bill better than SEO.

About the Author: Having held Director and VP level positions at large search agencies over the past 8 years I have gained a wealth of experience and knowledge. I now offer agency quality SEO consulting services without the big agency overhead so that more of your dollars will go into your campaign.Follow me on Google+, and Twitter for regular updates.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 helpfulguy January 26, 2010 at 1:16 am

Well i think SEO really helps both the the website and the seo provider, it increases the marketing of a business. it is cheap depending where the outsourcing country is..


2 Miguel Salcido January 26, 2010 at 10:12 am

helpfulguy, my whole point is that in my extensive experiences that spans literally hundreds of different clients, outsourcing SEO whether it be to different countries or a webmaster in order to save money never provides good results.

Yes SEO is effective and good for business. And yes over time SEO will almost always eventually provide an ROI. But the ROI will be much greater, and come much faster, if you go with a real professional instead of trying to cut costs on your SEO.


3 Nicholas Kemp February 8, 2010 at 2:43 am

I agree. Cutting costs on SEO is a just plain stupid. It shocks me that people/business are willing to spend thousands of dollars on a web designer, but not be happy to pay the same amount for an SEO professional.


4 Winfred Strzalkowski February 11, 2010 at 6:40 am

Great article. There’s a lot of great tips in this article, although I did need to tell you something – I’m running Ubuntu with the up-to-date beta of Firefox, and the design of the blog is kinda funky for me. I can read the articles or blog posts, but the navigation isn’t going to function so well.


5 Andrew Wheeler April 10, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Well written Miguel.

Unfortunately with the rise of ‘cheap seo’ its increasingly difficult for the honest guys to make a living – I spend most of my time trying to get clients to understand how simple SEO really is… but it takes time, which is where the real cost is.


6 Miguel Salcido April 10, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Thanks Andrew, yes unfortunately all SEO consultants have to deal with convincing, people who have been burned before, that SEO works and that you can take them there with the right budget.

I like your site layout and the videos. I aspire to do more video here. Maybe you can share with me how you edit and convert them? They look like pretty good quality.


7 seomadness October 10, 2010 at 2:55 am

Hey, You made some good points there. I did a search on the topic with yahoo and found most people will agree with your blog.


8 Kelly S November 16, 2010 at 11:21 am

This article reminds of the IT consulting industry. Few small to medium size companies are willing to pay for a competent IT person. They always want to try and get what is easy and not what makes sense. I can see the same thing happening with the SEO consultants. A lot of small just created ‘experts’. This really gives a legitimate consultant a hard sell to a company that reads all the free information.


9 clickmomentum November 19, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I got so frustrated with the SEO consultants I brought in, I decided to learn it myself. About 18 months later, I can handle a lot of the work and knowing what I know now, I can safely say I have hired quite a few monkeys.

A good SEO person is worth their weight in gold. I hope to be one someday.


10 clickmomentum November 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Thanks for the link Miguel. I will check it out.

I just started a new job with a small manufacturing company in business for many years doing web design and SEO. They do OK with Adwords but don’t rank with organic traffic. I need to get them on page 1 of Google.


11 sydney painters November 25, 2010 at 12:14 am

Honestly, I’m really confused on how this SEO really works. Confuse in a way that like what you’ve said so called SEO experts have their own beliefs when it comes to implementing SEO. Much worst if these people are claiming that they are experts and yet they aren’t.


12 Miguel Salcido November 26, 2010 at 10:59 am

It is confusing, and a difficult decision. I do not enyy the business owner that has to wade through SEO consultants or agencies. The best thing to do, in addition to checking references and previous work, is to work with someone on a small scale at first to see if you like the work that they do and once you have gained confidence in them increase the engagement. But you must be open minded to what the consultant or agency tells you to do. Because if you do not implement what they tell you to then you can hardly blame them for a lack of results.


13 Dave Jenkins January 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Great article and how true. However, as with most things, it’s only with hindsight and experience can we see, “why didn’t we use SEO consultant abc”. Most people in most walks of life and sectors will always go for the cheaper option.


14 Miguel Salcido January 11, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Hi Dave, thanks for contributing. I agree with you, hindsight is always 20/20. That was part of the motivation for the post, to let people know that you almost never get something for nothing when it comes to SEO. Yes you mitigate your risk for losses when you go with a cheaper SEO consultant, but you also lose time and sometimes authority so you may not even really be mitigating potential losses at all when going “cheap” with your SEO. Asking around will help you decide on a reasonable budget range. Also, getting proposals from as many different consultants as possible will help get you an idea of average pricing. Another idea is the get a strategy (proposal) from a trusted company that is most likely out of reach from a pricing standpoint and then find someone else that can execute it at a more reasonable cost without all the big agency markups. Shoot, Fortune 500 businesses do it all the time. It is called the RFP process!


15 Stuart February 21, 2011 at 8:06 am

Hi there – I find that it all comes down to showing prospective clients results already achieved, the proofs in the pudding as the saying goes and there is no other way to consolidate some trust with someone who has received bad SEO services in the past.


16 Tony H June 14, 2011 at 8:04 am

My problem is there are many cheap SEO companies charging peanuts and then clients get burnt and claim to have had a bad experience. SEO ultimately comes at a cost because you are paying for someones time to increase your online business. Some people think that 100 quid a month will generate them hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of business. If it was that easy I would have hundreds of sites across hundreds of industries creaming it


17 Nick Bielawski June 25, 2011 at 6:40 am

The business owner needs to look at the lifetime value of the customer rather than just the one off return on investment. If you have a backend profit system and know what each client is worth then spending the extra $ on SEO will be totally worth it.


18 gregg rodriguez September 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Great article. I’ve learned this to be true. I am now meeting clients who hired SEO consultants a year or two ago and still have not gotten any value out of it–worse still, they don’t know what they should be getting or what questions to ask–so they continue paying consultants money jus to get a lot of followers or friends…


19 MAM Aus October 6, 2011 at 6:43 pm

It’s amazing how many people actually keep paying SEO companies when they don’t deliver results and when questioned about it the answer is that they have faith in them. I mean, 3 years down the line and you still have poor rankings should inspire you to move on!


20 Miguel Salcido October 6, 2011 at 6:52 pm

@MAM Aus Indeed, but that is rare in my experience and I’ve worked a a few agencies. Usually 6-12 months is as long as people will stick with it and to be honest that is about as much time as one would need to get a fair shot, as an SEO.


21 Shad October 7, 2011 at 6:47 pm

One of the biggest mistakes we made when we starting offering SEO to our existing clients (we run a web design firm) was catering to their budgets. You are absolutely right – you cannot run an effective online marketing campaign if your client is not willing to allow you to spend the needed time to get real results. By “accepting” a lower budget of lets say 500 or 1000 we limit our time commitment to seo tasks and get fewer and slower results disappointing our clients. It’s not that they are not getting tremendous value, it’s that their expectations for quick ranking and traffic are not met right away. Then we end up having to convince them to stay on the campaign for at least 6mo to a year – which is minimum anyway. Now that we learned our lesson – we don’t take any seo clients for less then $2000 per month unless its a very non-competitive local phrase or social media content campaign, etc. Wish I would have read this 3 years ago.


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