Like every high demand industry, marketing is plagued with cowboys and SEO services are probably one of the worst when it comes to low budget, low quality imposters. These imposters come in various forms, from the web designer tagging on SEO services to pad out or extend a project through to the SEO by day, call centre by night mass produced services. And of course, there’s the standalone link building professional.
Now, I’m a realistic guy and I would try to make the argument in most cases that varying levels of service are necessary to cater for all of the varying budgets and needs out there in the market but in the case of SEO, I can honestly say that once you hit the lower end of the quality spectrum you’re really not getting anything for your money at all. If anything, you’re actually putting your site and existing rankings at risk.
Successful organic search projects need to be able to cover the full spectrum of SEO variables as well as carry an understanding of the market and ultimately how the audience is searching. There is a reason why this channel has entire agencies dedicated to it and nothing else. The site layout, the onsite copy, your keyword selection, your social media posting and your link acquisition all need to work in sync to achieve the best results. Farming just one small piece of this puzzle off to a low budget provider with a promise is a recipe for disaster.
We have built our SEO service and reputation on being able to deliver truly full-service SEO packages which include everything from on-site crawlability guidance and audits of your existing situation right through to journalist quality on-site copy production and genuinely organic link building through digital PR and blogger outreach. We have very happy clients who see steady and valuable results. The area that does grind my gears however as a marketing agency owner, is the impact that the cowboys have on the expectations and education of the wider industry.
There are three issues as an SEO provider that I face when speaking to new clients who have used the cowboy SEO providers in the past:
Fool Me Once…
Number one is the obvious one, they spent money and it didn’t work. They feel ripped off and probably a tad foolish that they’ve paid for nothing. As a result, some marketers and business owners lose faith in the channel altogether which is obviously a huge shame given that even in a social media dominant world, search and SEO in particular is still one of the most economical digital channels for generating sales.
It’s important to remember that while some time and money may have been wasted, there is still a great deal of potential gain from investing in your SEO with the right agency partner. Make sure your next agency has a full-service approach to SEO and conducts you some kind of review or SEO audit towards the start of the relationship to help you understand where you are before moving forward. It may be that any issues caused by your previous SEO agency can be picked up on and rectified.
The Incomparable Budget Comparison
Another absolute classic. “My previous agency cost considerably less” or “The guy from a town somewhere in Iran has quoted me a cheap price in a direct message on LinkedIn”. Come on guys, this is your business, your brand you’re talking about. These price comparisons couldn’t be any less relevant. You’ve already realised the previous agency was bogus and all your spend was wasted. That experience alone should be enough to recognise that there is no quick or cheap fix to gaining search engine rankings. All for all the cowboy emails and DMs, again, have some respect for your own business as well as the agencies you’re now asking for quotes from. We all know you’re not going to put your marketing in the hands of someone like that and there’s a good reason why.
The moral of this part of the story is that in order to make a relevant price comparison you need to be comparing the same thing. A respectable marketing agency with genuine ability to deliver effective SEO across all of the required areas like content creation, PR, blogger outreach, internal linking and website structure etc, isn’t going to be able to offer you a ‘deal’ for £150 a month SEO services. It’s just not realistic. How many hours of work would you get out of a digital marketing professional for £150 across an entire month, two or three maybe?
That said, I’m also not saying that SEO has to be expensive to be effective. Just ensure your agency clearly details all of the deliverables they’re going to be providing each month for the money you’re paying. If you do need to save on your spend, identify the areas you can comfortably and confidently deliver yourself or in-house and plug in the outsourced agency to fill the gaps.
A Bad Education
It’s really part and parcel of the low-end service scene that alongside the hard sale and low prices comes a torrent of bogus information. At the end of the day whatever is going to help pitch to you, some con artists will use. Either to make SEO seem simple and achievable for a low fee or to make it sound so complicated that only they have the answer. All in all, you’re looking at being on the receiving end of a lot of ill guidance and wrong turns.
Your new SEO agency should be able to talk confidently about all aspects of search and understand the power of having SEO friendly unique content on your site which is updated and added to on a consistent basis. There aren’t any shortcuts so don’t fall for anything that sounds too easy. That said, SEO is a widely discussed topic online. There are a number of very reliable resources you can tap into to validate what your agency is saying to you. Put it a little bit of time educating yourself so you can make an informed decision on your next SEO agency rather than leaving all the talking and all the insight to them.