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Gary Hainsworth

Cheap SEO Services and Why They Don’t Work Anymore

12th Sep 2022 SEO Blog 5 minutes to read

There are various reasons why you’d want to look into cheaper SEO services – particularly as overheads increase and there is increased competition to drive prices down.

This doesn’t always work though and invariably cost more in the long run at worst or give next to zero value at best.

If you’re looking to start SEO services, or perhaps you’re looking to check you’re getting value for money, you should read this article to help you avoid some of the pitfalls of cheaper SEO services.

How Cheap is Cheap?

First off, how cheap can you go?

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There are options going down to under £10 on the likes of Fiverr, where you will probably get a few new title tags and maybe even some nice meta descriptions!

Compared to day rates for agencies which can go into the thousands, this feels like good value for money, but the truth is that once they start getting scaled up, they can cost a lot.

If you’re working on ecommerce sites especially, working on a “number of pages” basis isn’t good. You could have tens of categories and hundreds of product pages, all of which will have their own optimisations, research and more.

You can really go from £10 to £10,000 to optimise your site. Even saying that – “optimise your site” – is a misnomer. SEO work should be ongoing, not set and forget, and the complexity of sites ranges from 1 page to thousands of moving parts. The latter probably isn’t suitable for a Fiverr posting…

Is Cheap Always Bad?

Not strictly, but if you have a site above a few pages then it will be more cost effective to work on larger day rates rather than a number of pages basis.

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Many tasks will get lumped together and will be more beneficial when done across whole sites, such as audits, keyword research and meta data edits.

But if you have a two-page local plumbing website, then it will make more financial sense to get these done cheaply and maybe focus on social media and paid.

So no, it’s not bad in itself, but it does generally mean that you’re getting bad value for money, as those who know the ins and outs of SEO rarely undercut themselves to take on cheaper clients. You’re much more likely to run into some of the below reasons when going for “cheap SEO” terms.

Reasons For Avoiding Cheap SEO Services

Inexperience

As mentioned, when people in the SEO industry gain experience and knowledge, they will charge for this. If you aim for the lowest prices available, do you honestly think you will end up with agencies or freelancers who know what they’re doing?

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Black-Hat Tactics

This is still an issue online, and although it’s harder to see the direct results of a penalty imposed by Google, you can still receive manual action and huge reductions in traffic.

If you see links being built which you think are dangerous to the site, then they could very well be. The best-case scenario is that these built links won’t be indexed by Google making them useless. The worse-case scenario is these links being found and absolutely decimating your search engine visibility.

So hopefully you’re paying for nothing rather than paying to make your site perform worse!

Lack of Creativity

At the lowest price point you’ll receive one-size-fits-all strategies and little in the way of input.

Cheaper SEO agencies tend to stipulate the services you’ll receive rather than working with you to reach out to your audience and make the best out of both teams’ knowledge bases.

This all results in templated work, minimal SEO assets to give long term benefits and will often ignore your specific requirements in favour of easier to achieve tasks.

A Numbers Game

At the cheaper side of SEO services you will find that client churn is huge and cheaper SEO agencies stay in business due to the volume of clients, not the quality.

This larger turnover results in formulaic work and little accountability for the work done. It’s often tied into longer contract periods as well, such as 12-month periods where you will struggle to get any results but will be obliged to pay.

What Is a Reasonable Price?

This depends on your location but looking at the UK the prices of well performing agencies range from £700 a day upwards.

This would cover account managers, those doing the more detailed SEO tasks, reporting, etc.

There are also variable in your site size and what other channels you would be looking at (social, paid, PR, etc.).

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What If This Is Too Expensive?

Going back to those where this budget is too much, then there are alternatives available.

Freelancers

Going back to the Fiverr example, you can look at a few pages and try and see how these incremental changes improve your traffic and conversions. It’s more worthwhile to save up and gain agency experience, but this isn’t always viable.

Consultants

This method can help you identify issues, letting you work on them in-house. This could be viable if you have someone on your team willing to help or learn, but it does also bring back inaccuracies and potentially bad habits into the mix.

Training Courses

Coupled with the above, digital marketing training courses give good value for money for those in your business. This knowledge can be used across your site and will help expand your knowledge. The downside of this is going out of your depth or doing things blindly without the deeper understanding that more seasoned SEOs will have.

Conclusion

So, it can be beneficial to use cheaper SEO services or freelancers, but the risks often outweigh the gains – especially if you are a larger company.

If you have budget for marketing in general, then SEO should be included. You might have had good experience with traditional methods, but after 3 decades of people using the internet for marketing, you really don’t have an excuse to ignore it!

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Gary Hainsworth

Senior Organic Data Specialist

If you're after someone to chat guitars with, Gary's your man. When he isn't playing guitar, or bass, he's trying his hand at modifying them. He's even made one from scratch once. He relates strongly with the humble and kind hedgehog, who also happen to be as prickly as his musical taste; anything loud, fast and angry.

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