As a small business owner, you probably know what SEO does, but don’t exactly understand how it works. If you’re searching for “affordable small business SEO services”, you realize, at this point, that you need to spend money on it, but you’re not quite sure how much. When we reference SEO or search engine optimization, we want our listeners to understand–it can mean the difference between getting tons of website traffic and not being found, at all. Yes, you do get what you pay for, but that doesn’t mean that expensive SEO is good SEO. Furthermore, all SEO services are expensive if they don’t work.
What do we mean by this?
If you spend $500 a month to get rankings, and after 6 months to a year, they don’t come, then, SEO is expensive at $500. But, if you’re in a competitive market, and you outrank your competitors on Google for one of your main product’s search terms, how much is that worth in your opinion? $1,000 a month, $5,000 a month?
Online marketing agencies that specialize in SEO know how to get results for small businesses without costing the business so much that it handicaps them. And, if your business is in a niche that we don’t think we can help you, without taking the farm, we’ll tell you that, upfront. We aren’t in the business of losing–losing money, losing customer, losing our good reputation.
So, we’ve put together this post to help you understand affordable SEO services for small business, and if hiring an SEO agency is the right decision for your company.
What are Affordable SEO Services for Small Business?
Now, everyone has their own perception of what “affordable” means. And, affordable SEO is certainly no exception. For example, if your business is generating hundreds of thousands of revenue a year, then $5k a month is nothing. If your company makes well below 6 figures, then $5k seems insane. It’s subjective. There’s no easy way around that.
But, either way, good SEO is not cheap.
There are only so many actions you can take on a low SEO budget. The only actions you can take are those that are time-dependent and not capital-dependent. And, even there, it’s a slippery slope. As with any profession, businesses that employ talented SEO professionals must pay them according to his or her talents.
What do we mean by time-dependent?
And again, some if not most technical optimization requires a developer. Web developers also cost money.
You won’t get too far with keyword research, optimizing pages, and doing tidbits of technical optimization. Sure, it will help some, but that’s not where the bulk of your success will come from. These just simply aren’t the high impact activities that drive your organic search growth. The two biggest drivers for organic traffic are content and back-links. Guess what? Both of these activities are the most capital intensive.
The Affordable SEO Companies Struggle
Since super affordable SEO companies don’t have the capital they need to correctly optimize your page, they can’t:
- pay for placement on quality sites,
- create quality content, and
spend much time doing link outreach.
So, what does that mean?
It results with this outcome. Affordable SEO companies must penny-pinch on SEO content. This will ultimately end up embarrassing your brand, in the long run. And, they will have to use black-hat back-links that will get your site penalized.
How to Spot Cheap SEO Packages
What is good for SEO pricing? We understand. Trust us, we really do. We’re a small business, too! You want to squeeze as much profit out of your business as you possibly can. However, there are some things that you cannot skimp on. You will lose, every single time, when you go with cheap SEO marketing. Now, affordable small business SEO services is a little different.
Choosing an affordable SEO agency is tricky because the “cost” isn’t immediate. Neither is the profit. You will spend months of working with a bad SEO company before you realize they were cheap, not affordable. Therefore, you won’t realize the “cost” until you’ve already wasted a lot of money.
But, that cost comes in more forms than just money.
First of all, cheap SEO will land your site with a penalty. So, even if their black-hat, low-quality tactics work short-term, you’ll get nailed later on. Google doesn’t like to be fooled. And, if your site gets penalized, more than likely, you’ll have to hire another agency just to get that penalty removed. Once your site gets a penalty, it’s a very long road to recovery.
Then, there are the account opportunity and time costs. If and when your site gets penalized, you will have wasted time and capital. Time, money, and business assets.. you know, the three most valuable things to a business.
Last, and here’s the real kicker…
Cheap SEO Doesn’t Provide Assets
Quality content and back-links are assets for your business.
What does this mean?
It means that they will continue to bring your business value. They’re in it for the long-haul.
Here’s the bad news:
Businesses who claim to offer super affordable SEO services for small business typically won’t give you any tangible assets. Why? Because they do not have the capital to create quality content assets or acquire quality link placements.
Scalability=Affordability=Cookie Cutter SEO
Most affordable search engine optimization companies have to use cookie-cutter strategies. They aren’t able to scale if they, ya know, think outside the box for your business.
SEO is a dynamic skill. Period.
Sure, the principles of quality SEO don’t change, but every single campaign is different. Every client is at a different point in their online marketing journey. And, every client has different needs.
Furthermore, cheap SEO companies will also be unresponsive, for the most part. They don’t have time to communicate. These cookie-cutter SEO companies allocate most of their resources to front-end sales. They realize that after a few months, their clients will realize that “it ain’t working” and bounce. Therefore, it’s a constant cycle of clients.
Want to know if an SEO company is good?
Ask how long most of their clients say. If they give you past numbers, even if they say a couple of years, run. We can tell you that most of our clients, we’ve had from day one when we started, and they’re still our clients. We don’t know how long they’ll stay, because they’re still with us. (drops mic…)
So, unlike scale-based SEO companies, good SEO agencies value client RETENTION over new leads. We allocate time and resources to testing and improving our SEO services. We go back and tweak our content, when we see that keywords are shifting. We update pictures when we see they’re starting to look a little dated.
Once our clients start receiving the value of our SEO services, they want to spend more, in order to get even better results.
SEO Experience is Priceless
Companies that offer extremely affordable SEO services for small business, and aren’t honest with clients upfront, HAVE to employ cheap labor. There’s just no way around this. Businesses must make money to survive. Cheap labor equals inexperience.
Good agencies aren’t cheap because they employ legitimate, proven SEO experts. Or, they employ super promising candidates, and then invest resources into training them. SEO training is not a 2 week course, we can promise you that! SEO experts realize that they have a rare talent, and they’re confident in their ability to get your business results. So, they’re never going to work for entry level pay.
How do you know if an SEO agency hires inexperienced workers?
Look for the affordable SEO agency that brags about how large their staff is. A single SEO expert can run circles around entire companies of inexperienced, entry-level employees, all day, every day.
What Do Cheap SEO Packages Look Like?
When you’re on this side, it’s pretty easy to identify low-quality SEO services, once you know the basics of SEO. Here are a few things to look for:
Proposals that are full of fluff.
Cheap SEO agencies will take advantage of business owners by injecting a ton of technical jargon into their proposals. This is to make it seem like they’re doing a ton of work. In reality, 80% of the tasks they list either take little time to complete and will have little or no impact on your marketing campaign.
They avoid content or link acquisition.
If you don’t see a whopping section for content and link acquisition on your SEO proposal, just stop reading it. It’s garbage. Content and back-links are undeniably the two most important elements of a successful SEO campaign. Literally ask anyone who does SEO. If the agency doesn’t know this basic principle, they have no business taking your money.
Is SEO a Waste of Money?
Just remember, the lower the price, the less they can do for you. When we’re talking affordability for SEO services, you have to consider pricing models.
Some small business SEO agencies are a little “cloak and dagger” about their pricing. Pricing should always be transparent.
SEO encompasses a wide range of services. Put simply, technical, on-page SEO services focus on keyword research and optimizing the content on your website. Off-page SEO services focus on activities like link-building and citation-building. So, as with any marketing service, you’ll want to make sure of what the pricing includes and excludes before committing.
How Much Should I Spend on SEO per Month?
According to most online studies, SEO experts charge anywhere from $100-$150 per hour. But, most of us charge a monthly retainer instead. It’s just easier for everyone, and with a good SEO company, you’ll get more from them this way, anyways.
Also, the cost of one single back-link is at least $400, and you will need a LOT in order to get your site ranked.
So, in the United States, most agencies charge at least $2,500 to $5,000 a month for services, depending on your industry.
Solutions for a Limited SEO Budget
Are you a small business owner who wants to see the benefits of SEO, but you don’t have the budget to hire a good SEO agency? Here are a few solutions for the time being.
1. Do it yourself.
Believe it or not, doing some of the SEO basics is much safer than hiring a cheap SEO agency. This will give you control, and you are responsible for the success or failure. Your business is your baby, and you will always want to do what’s best for it. So, you will use the safest and most effective strategies you can. You won’t set your business up to be penalized because you won’t engage in any risky black-hat SEO tactics.
Don’t make a rash decision and hire the cheap agency that promises super affordable SEO services for small business. If your budget is under $2,500 a month, and the company takes you on as a client, be very wary. If your budget is tight, then build up the funds and wait to hire a quality SEO agency, down the road. You would rather start off at point zero, than start off in the negative. And, this is what will happen if you have to hire an agency to get you out, once your website has been penalized.
Best SEO Companies for Small Businesses
Most business owners don’t have the time, technical skills, or patience to handle SEO by themselves. You do realize that your business needs it. SEO really is a necessary investment for your small business. You can’t expect instant results, but you will see long-term effects on your business’s organic traffic.
In all honestly, the best SEO companies for small businesses are the few SEO agencies that will tell someone, “no”. There are a few of us out there that have a moral compass and will let a prospect know that we can’t deliver what they want on his or her budget, if that’s the case. We don’t take money unless we’re sure we can make a difference! We’re small, too, and small businesses must stick together!
If you’re looking for an affordable SEO agency to help get your small business off the ground, AND a business owner who doesn’t mind telling you “no, we can’t help you on that budget”, then give us a call. We offer free proposals, and we’ll tell you if we aren’t a fit! We’ve earned our reputation for success, and we’ve done that with honesty and 100% transparency!