Just about any business small or large will at some point be faced with the decision on how to properly SEO their website.  It’s this need from small business owners, combined with the real complexities of how to get properly ranked on the web that has sprung up a whole industry of poor quality SEO agencies across the U.S. and the world.  After doing some quick searches on the web, I came across an interesting story of a Pest Control business in Arizona that took the time to share his experiences with some these low cost SEO companies, and the results they provided.

Cheap low cost SEO, the truth behind the promises

What I found particularly interesting about his story is not only the fact he was willing to share it, but that he seems like a pretty smart guy that got raked over the coals by a few unethical SEO companies before learning the facts (it can happen to anyone).  In the article, he shares some of his dealings with these cheap SEO companies, saying:

…Everybody said “go to the Web.” So I hired an outfit to build a site. Thought I was pretty smart. Bought a GoDaddy domain and got moving. The problem was the web developer kept raising their rates and I had no control over anything. Even worse, I wasn’t getting any business from it even though they were supposed to be getting me on the search engines.

So I hired another outfit to build and host a new website — about $6K + $160/month. I figured out how to track what the website was doing and I soon discovered that the ROI wasn’t there. By then I knew a little about SEO, so I hired another SEO outfit, paid them upfront and never heard from them again. That left me with a bad taste in my mouth, which already tasted pretty bad.

The article Q&A goes on to say:

(after learning to do his own SEO)

And how did that increased traffic turn into business?

Probably tripled my business based on dollars banked. And as my Internet business has grown, I am definitely seeing more competition for the big keywords. With the increase in income, I started investing in local radio ads so I didn’t have to rely on Google. Good thing too, because I got hit on May 21st by a Google update. My traffic is down about 50%.

What do you think happened?

I was using Backlinks Genie. That’s what one of the forums told me to use. What I didn’t realize the pages I was promoting, I was promoting with one keyword. I learned a lot of things in life the hard way. Now I am trying to learn about link disavowal to fix the problems.

About how much time each week do you spend on SEO?

I easily spend 20 hours/week on SEO. I am generating a good income from my website.

What can be learned from Bill’s story and cheap SEO

As I mentioned at the start of this article, just about every business, if not already will be forced to make a decision on their website SEO. The days of having an old stale website that never gets worked on are over for small businesses. Competition for first page real estate on search engines like Google is fierce, and small businesses, especially those in competitive fields will need to make the decision of doing in-house SEO or outsourcing to an SEO agency.  In Bill’s story, he decided to go out and learn SEO himself, very admirable in my eyes, but that even has its own pitfalls as he was caught and penalized for his link profiles, loosing him 50% of his internet traffic.

Is there such a thing as cheap SEO?

In short the answer to this question is no.  Unless your business is so niche that you have virtually no competition; maybe you opened up a business as a professional hugger, or your community is so small that you only have two other competitors.

Unless your business fits into one of these categories, quality SEO is not cheap.  So that brings up the question: what about all those emails and phone calls you get about cheap SEO services, software programs that will propel your website in front of the competition, acquiring hundreds or thousands of links to your website, or promises on hundreds of visitors a day?

As illogical as it may seem, some business owners still believe that SEO can be, or should be cheap.  Millions of businesses everyday receive unsolicited emails from people claiming to be SEO Guru’s making lofty promises of hundreds of daily visitors, hundreds of Facebook fans, or first page rankings.  And I’m sure millions more receive phone calls from these very same companies.

Why cheap SEO doesn’t work

SEO by its very nature is a very competitive and complex task.  If you really think about how many competing businesses in your area want to be on the first page of the search engines for the very same keywords you want to be, this in itself can set this task in perspective.  Almost every business owner wants their business on the first page, and they want it yesterday.

The problem with cheap SEO is pretty simple.  You get what you pay for.  Quality SEO is a complex task of identifying many different factors for your business: your industry, competition, and what your most valued prospects want.  These tasks and goals must be developed into a comprehensive plan to achieve the desired results, and in the right order.  In addition, this all must be accomplished using search engine accepted practices (white hat SEO) and staying up to date with the latest changes in web design, SEO, and search engine changes.  Cheap SEO doesn’t do this, it relies most times on automated software programs, cheap overseas labor, or downright ripoffs.

Is quality SEO expensive

Quality SEO costs money because it takes educated manpower.  But SEO is only expensive if it doesn’t work.  For example if I told you the going cost per conversion for pest control services when it comes to pay per click is over $60, and a quality SEO company can deliver conversions at less that $10 per lead, which is expensive?  In Bill’s story above he admits he spends 20 hours a week on his website and SEO.  How expensive is it for him to have to do his own SEO rather than running his business?  I can understand his decision to do it himself after his unfortunate experiences.

These days there really is no such thing as just an SEO expert.  To be an true SEO expert, you need to have web development skills, link building skills, writing skills, software skills like Photoshop, marketing strategy skills, research skills, and conversion rate optimization skills (just to name a few).  Some could argue that an SEO’s only real job is to get their client to the first page for whichever given set of keywords they have agreed upon, I think this is wrong.

Anyone that says they’re an SEO expert, but says they have a “team” of people to do the above isn’t an SEO expert, they’re an SEO salesman, and there is a difference.

What a quality SEO company does

Getting their clients to the first page is of utmost importance to any SEO company, but good SEO’s shouldn’t end there.  Traffic is only part of the equation, delivering high quality leads is the second part of the equation, so conversion rate optimization should be a factor that every small business should judge an SEO company.  After all, you as a small business owner pay for SEO to bring you new customers, so if your SEO company isn’t willing to work on your website, or at least work with your web developer on converting more of those visitors to prospects, what are they really doing for you?

The misconception on website work and SEO

What is my SEO company doing each month?  We hear many times from many businesses that they pay for their SEO company to work on rankings for a ridiculously small amount of keywords (5-15 keywords) on a continual basis (often at very high prices).  First, if you’re paying a lot for a service like this, and you see no proof of the work being performed, it may be time to start asking questions.  Quality SEO should focus on a large set of keywords to drive traffic and conversions.  When you place all your internet marketing hopes on just a few keywords, your’e setting yourself up for major disappointment down the road.  Rankings can change daily, and movements of even just a few spots can wreck havoc on the leads developed from your website.  You wouldn’t gamble your 401-K and retirement on just a few companies, so why are you doing it with your businesses SEO strategy?

Nothing changed on my website, so my SEO company did no work

SEO at a professional level is a complex set of tasks that should be completed on a regular schedule.  Only a fraction of that work is visible as changes on a website.  To give you an idea, I’ve compiled a few unseen tasks that most reputable SEO companies will complete for their customers:

  • Website security updates
  • Website security monitoring
  • Website and database backups (disaster recovery)
  • Content re-optimization for better rankings
  • Analytics analysis (ranking changes)
  • Citation building
  • Content distribution
  • Device and browser testing (new browser versions & devices)
  • Speed improvements and testing (shared hosting, VPS, & dedicated hosting environments)
  • Website platform updates (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, & other platforms)
  • Customer reviews and reputation monitoring
  • Lead quality monitoring (call & form submission quality review)
  • Webmaster tools monitoring and fixes (Google & Bing Webmaster Tools)
  • Client meetings and reporting (regular face to face or phone meetings, website & ROI reporting)

The above list are items that occur and are unseen by an SEO client, and don’t include visible website changes.

Professional level SEO is performed by experienced experts.  That’s not to say that new SEO professionals entering the field don’t have a lot to offer, because they do.  SEO these days is thinking outside the box, exploring areas your competition hasn’t explored, or perhaps is too lazy to do.  But whomever it is, SEO is a particular mindset that many people just don’t have the patience or aptitude to master.  I can without a doubt say, SEO isn’t performed by software, or people that don’t take time to learn about your business thoroughly.

Bill shared his experiences so that others wouldn’t make the same mistakes.

So do you still think SEO should be cheap?

Cheap website SEO, does it really exist? Learn the facts here in Vancouver WA - Portland OR - Nationwide

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