When you’re looking to buy a new car, it makes sense to call all your area dealerships and find out who will give you the best price for the model you want. But if you’re looking for a flattering haircut or a gourmet meal, price may not be the best differentiator.
SEO services are a bit like hiring a hair stylist. You can go with the brand new barber who’ll use the clippers to give you a one-size-fits-all buzz cut, or you can visit the New York-trained, award-winning stylist who spends hours designing a supermodel-like look just for you. Most likely, though, you’re looking to hire a reasonable SEO expert — someone with plenty of experience, a great group of pleased past customers, and a friendly demeanor.
For most small businesses, hiring the expensive, big city SEO firm focused on large companies isn’t the right answer. But neither is hiring the cheapest option you can find. Here’s why.
5 Reasons Cheap SEO Gets You in Trouble
- Your “expert” doesn’t know what they’re doing. SEO basics are fairly easy, but taking the next steps honestly can carry a pretty sizable learning curve. Making a mistake on your SEO can dramatically tank traffic to your small business website and hurt your sales.
- Your SEO takes a cookie cutter approach. Cheap SEO is often done with a checklist. A lower-paid employee runs down the list, doing the same thing for each client. There’s no individual attention, no focus on your business goals, and usually, no results.
- There’s no attention to good content. Content forms the backbone of your SEO efforts, but it’s hard to automate and expensive to produce. Cheap SEO companies are going to ignore content strategy in favor of easier, spammy tactics that could hurt your reputation or actually cost you a higher place in the rankings.
- You could be harming your digital marketing. If you hire a cheap SEO provider, odds are that they’re using outdated or outright harmful tactics that can get your website completely banned from Google’s listings, as well as those of other major search engines.
- Your firm doesn’t have enough time for you. Let’s face it, cheap is appealing, and there are plenty of business owners who pick cheap, meaning that your SEO provider is doing the bare minimum for each customer and hoping that there aren’t any problems along the way. If you do run into problems, you’ll likely get dropped or ignored. Forget about your questions being addressed or your calls being answered in a timely manner.
How to Know if SEO Brings Value to Your Small Business
Instead of looking at the minimum dollars you can spend each month for SEO services, start looking at the return you’ll get on your investment and the value you’ll receive for what you pay. You may want to ask some of these questions:
- “What increases to website traffic can I expect?” No reputable firm will promise you a No. 1 ranking in Google, but a knowledgeable SEO should be able to analyze your competition, discover what can reasonably be aimed for given your market and your budget, and give you a rough calculation of the results you could see. There will almost always be a disclaimer with this kind of estimate, since there are no guarantees with Google rankings, but you’ll have a goal and know what you’re trying to accomplish.
- “How long will it take until I see results?” Unfortunately, SEO is not a quick process. It requires a set strategy with a long-term outlook. A company that promises fast results may not be the right fit for you, but a company that can help you determine your goals and explain what your return on your investment is likely to be after 6 months to a year — and helps you track that — has great value.
- “What happens if my results don’t improve — or get worse?” Honestly, there are some situations in which things can change for the worse before they get better, though these are not common. Understand what your SEO plans to do if they can’t meet the reasonable goals you set together.
You should also make sure that your SEO efforts are closely tied to other digital marketing services so you can also get traffic from other channels, like pay-per-click advertising and social media marketing. You want to be sure that once a potential customer finds your website that you give them every opportunity to turn into a quality lead. Being able to work with a competent SEO provider — not necessarily the cheapest one — will help ensure that you get there.
We would welcome a chance to meet with you and prove our value as a partner in your small business SEO work and digital marketing. Contact our digital marketing team for a free consultation on how we can improve your search engine rankings.