Success in business is all about making the right decisions and investments but most small business owners are at their wits end when it comes to deciding how much to pay for digital marketing services such as Search engine optimisation (SEO).
Not knowing enough about the subject matter makes it difficult for business owners to make a decision. Especially when two vendors might offer a complete different set of deliverables under the same label of “SEO service”. On top, the wide variability in the pricing could also lead to a decision paralysis.
As a Small Business owner, should you choose the $2000/ month agency or go frugal with the $300/ month offer? You might wonder, aren’t they all selling the same thing so what possibly could the $2000 guy give that is worth the extra $1700 ? Of course, you know that there will always be some price differences for any service/product but a gap so wide might make you feel dubious.
So how to make a decision?
Unfortunately, the lack of understanding of the scope of work makes it difficult for business owners to make an apple to apple comparison. Which means that the selection criteria for most business owners is based on something they know and understand - Price. This in many cases is not the right approach.
Should you go with Cheap option?
Definitely not in my opinion.
Remember Quality SEO takes time & doesn’t come cheap. Reason being that SEO is a complex technical service and a constantly evolving field. Just Google itself introduces hundreds of changes to its algorithms every year that you need to keep track of. Of course, its in google’s interest to make the search more reliable and efficient but these changes can have an impact on your search ranking and you need someone who can take care of your interest.
According to a report on Search engine watch, many site owners spend less than $300 to hire agencies that offer black hat SEO solutions. These business owners are often caught unaware when the search engine updates impact their ranking negatively or penalize them for using unethical tactics. In such instances, the business ends up spending a lot more time and effort to resolve issues. Hence taking a decision solely on lower pricing could put you in troubled waters.
In short, Cheap SEO doesn’t necessarily mean Good SEO.
However, Cheap is such a relative term, so let me put the numbers in perspective. You might be taking a chance if you go with an agency offering SEO services for anything less than $400.
Why shouldn’t you go with Cheap Agencies?
When you hire an agency to do SEO, remember you are buying their SEO Experts time. So when you pay more it doesn't mean that the agency will put more people or work round the clock for you. But it does imply that they will put care and focus on quality and your business objectives which will yield sustainable results.
If an agency you chose for less ends up doing poor work, you might end up paying twice to get it done right. And in some extreme cases the dame done is irreparable causing businesses to dump their domain and start afresh.
The outcome of poor quality SEO can harm your business in the long run causing
- Decrease in search visibility
- Loss of traffic, leads and revenue
- Removal form search engine result pages (SERPs)
- Wasted marketing budget
However, the ramifications go beyond these issues if you are forces to start from scratch again, as it may have an indirect negative impact on your brand awareness and reputation as well.
So if you have read till this point then I am assuming you are someone who might be interested in what I am login to talk about next.
But is there a right way to decide?
Yes. Thankfully there are a few important things you could consider when picking a SEO agency. But first let’s look at what a $99-$399 agency offers . Most of these agencies often indulge in following practices
- Link building practices
- Directory Submission
- Social Bookmarking
- Limited Press Release
- Article submission
- Private blog networks
These strategies are only scratching the surface and might not be enough anymore. Some of them could even lead to harming your business.
So What else should i look for in an SEO agency?
To move to the next level, you should look for an Agency that can deliver
Optimised High Quality Content :
Search engines are intelligent enough to know the difference between quality context driven content and a group of keywords thrown together that make no sense. You need someone who understands your prospects and their customer journey enough to build content that will lead to them finding your business organically as they look for specific answers online. A good SEO partner understand the importance of your ‘website content’ and will never compromise on the content quality, making sure its aligned to your seo objectives & relevant to your target audience.
Technical SEO & On-page Optimisation :
This is one of the foundation pillars around which your entire optimization effort revolves and is arguably one of the most crucial element. The entire website code is reviewed and optimized to align to the industry standards.
Some Key factors that can make an impact on your ranking are
- Website responsiveness - Is it mobile friendly
- Website Speed
- Optimised XML Sitemaps, robots.txt
- Optimised Internal Links
- Content Duplication
- Browser Caching & Compression
- Content Delivery System to increase site speed
Some On-page optimisation
- Page title
- Page URLs
- Meta Description with keywords
Enhanced Link Building & Off-page Optimisation
Link building is the oil that makes your SEO engine work like a well oiled machine. No matter how optimised your website is, it won’t matter if you haven't got some inbound traffic from other sites. Most agencies focus on things like Directory submissions, Social bookmarking and article submissions but this is not enough anymore except for a few niche markets.
A good agency understands the value of quality links generated through Branding and PR, Press Releases, acquiring contextual link through content creation such as blogpost, guides, infographics, Slide decks, Videos etc. There are so many great avenues to optimize such as Link reclamation / Broken link fixing, building resource pages, promotions, Feeder content on Social networks, Social bookmarking , Social media marketing and much more.
These are some of the ideas that can help your website rank on search pages no matter if your business is in Mumbai or anywhere else in the world. However, executing these tactics take time and effort and most cheap agencies can’t afford to offer these services.
I hope this justifies the reason to stay away from cheaper solutions out there and look for an agency that understands the scope and are willing to put their skin in the game.
All this while I have mentioned not to go with cheaper options when it comes to picking an agency but that doesn’t mean I am suggesting the more expensive the offer the better it is. I am man who believes in paying the right price so let’s go ahead and look at how the cost for this service can be determined.
What should it cost?
According to Ahrefs 2018 global survey of the SEO Industry, the average hourly rate for an SEO professional ranges between $75-$100. However, most agencies prefer charging a monthly retainer instead of charging on an hourly basis. The work involves a team of Content writer, Designer and the SEO expert all working in tandem.
So, at a budget of $99-$350 you can imagine the effort an agency would put and you don’t need a mathematician to figure out what sort of work will be delivered at the end of it.
Its obvious that getting quality experienced professionals who take time to understand your business and your market is not going to come cheap. An average Budget for SEO could start from $500 and could go all the way upto $5000 for a monthly retainer. Since, SEO can have a direct impact on your business, its important to work with a trusted agency to ensure that the amount of money you spend reaps the right benefits for your organisation.
So should you go for cheap or expensive?
Honestly speaking, you get what you pay for. Ask yourself, are you investing in getting ranked or getting business. Would you take a chance that can risk your Business ? When investing in SEO, you are investing in your long term business strategy and we all know that growth doesn’t come cheap. You can’t expect to invest $99 and expect to get business leads worth $10000. That is more of an exception than a rule.
SEO is a long term tactic and by the time you realise that there is an issue with your SEO strategy it might already be too late. The loss is not only of the amount you spent on SEO but for the wasted time, effort and the missed opportunities. In SEO, many a times going cheap might end up being very expensive.
On the other hand, agencies that charge a higher retainer fee make sure they put the right resources with the right level of skills who can leverage techniques that work or build original content that provides traction. The flip side to this is that some of this agencies could be overcharging and underdelivering, so its important to measure the deliverables against the hours the agency will put in to make sure you are getting the right service worthy of your invested dollars.
At Synclarity, we have years of experience serving the Indian B2B market through our focussed services that help our clients business, and it is something we are very passionate about, and we bring a level of expertise and attention to detail for all our clients.
Since an agency that promises to offer you a cheap solution will most likely lack the resources required to deliver the results, they might most likely employ tactics that might cost you dearly.
On the other hand, hiring an agency that offers a great service at a competitive price can be an asset for your business.
Working with such a partner who understands the value of attracting customers organically, engaging and nurturing them into a customer can be a boon in this digital age.