Cheap and cheerful, don’t you just love it? Well not always!
Was cheap SEO ever an option and how do you define cheap with a service that could make or break your business?
Everybody likes a bargain, that goes without saying. In the business world, negotiating the best price is important especially when working to a budget and aiming to lower expenditure to help improve profit margins. However, it should never be a replacement for securing the best quality of service.
The point being that if you can find an equivalent offering cheaper, providing it still delivers what is required, then it’s a good idea to consider it. The problem being that in many instances that simply isn’t possible particularly once you start fishing around for SEO services. The less you spend, the less time is likely to be dedicated to a campaign or service. The quick and ‘cheap SEO providers’ you see in Adwords every day are likely to be automating link building tasks with push button software and you risk your business being farmed out to a 3rd party offshore that you have no idea about.
Established expert SEO agencies are naturally more expensive than their churn and burn cheap SEO counterparts as they often have a wider range of skilled staff at hand, get involved in your strategy, spend time to understand your goals, set up your tracking tools, use the latest analysis software, interpret and use technical data to uncover new opportunities and solve website issues. On top of this a good SEO consultant should be able to talk to you about the latest algorithm updates and industry changes.
When it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) the issue is compounded. Technical jargon restricts lay understandings of exactly what’s involved, and the way in which web pages are ranked and organised is in constant flux. If you work with an SEO company that doesn’t fully understand the intricacies of the Google algorithm or when and what algorithm updates have been made, how are they going to be able to advise you on the most relevant strategies to implement?
In short, unless you’re on top of the evolving Google algorithm directly, chances are it won’t be too clear what needs to be done to meet your SEO requirements.
In itself this is indicative of the wider point. Since the advent of Google, SEO specialists have looked to outsmart, sidestep and beat its algorithms. Every technique imaginable has been tried and tested – from using ‘invisible’ text (coloured to match the website’s background), doorway pages, adding to link farms and adding heavy keyword-dense copy nobody in their right mind would want to read. There have been many methods for short-term benefits and quick fixes, but none of these offer long-term search engine marketing solutions.
Black Hat SEO
Of course some of these concepts used to be acceptable (or at least useable), but this is no longer the case as the algorithms have become more intelligent partly due to the abuse of bad SEO and the infinite number of spammers. Google has been forced to up its game and can detect manipulative SEO strategies at the drop of a hat.
Black hat SEO, as it’s commonly referred to, comes with the definition of achieving higher search rankings through unethical techniques; i.e. trickery and evil wizardry. And, since the development of Google’s Penguin algorithm and the hard-nosed approach of the Google security team, many websites that went down the black hat route are now rather difficult to find. Banished to the depths of cyberspace by the main Internet gatekeeper and without an expert ‘penalty repair service‘ probably never to be seen again.
In fact even with experts looking through all of your spammy and low-quality backlinks and using the disavow tool there are no guarantees that every tarnished website is able to recover. There is always the odd occasion when a website repair and recovery is out of the question if the SEO bad practices were going on for a number of years before being caught out in an algorithm update.
Content Driven SEO
One important SEO technique is content marketing. This involves producing unique, valuable and engaging content to publish on your website and external high-quality sites where you have built relationships with publishers of a similar genre. As such, this is generally a more expensive and time-consuming route, but, in the long run, this is money well spent in comparison. And, whilst this is arguably the most fundamental reason why cheap SEO is often not the way to go, the argument continues. In fact, SEO is directly intertwined with content marketing across any industry.
Often poor SEO companies duplicate content, spin old content or just produce articles plagued with poor spelling and grammar. It’s not uncommon to see push-button software spraying out the same article across numerous low-quality sites all at once. A little bit like putting a nail in your coffin in terms of search engine marketing.
So a content driven approach to SEO is only likely to succeed when adding value to the reader using high-quality articles and carefully chosen distribution sources. This also needs to be supported via social media and other marketing channels to create buzz and additional exposure.
It’s also highly likely that the level of personalisation low budget SEO offers will be insufficient. Gone are the days when your results page was my results page, meaning search engines now take into account the country, city, social connections and browsing history of anyone typing in a query. To work with this level of sophisticated demographic identification, you need a service that understands the different strategies and techniques for targeting. Again, the less you spend, the less likely you are to have someone research your keywords, competition, technical set up and implement an effective long-term SEO strategy.
Inbound links still count for much in this game too. When another authoritative blogger or content publisher decides to reference your website, it’s a good thing. A strong and diverse range of backlinks can work wonders to increase both trust and authority with Google. Don’t underestimate the power of social and make sure your social strategy works very much in line with any SEO or PPC. Not least as Google looks favourably on your work as a result and social links have the power to get your page indexed in the first place. Paying for these links is nearly always not recommended as they go against Google guidelines and could end up being considered as part of a link scheme, but that’s not the only initiative to avoid. Link farms and many article networks really aren’t what they once were, and many are now categorised as having ‘overly aggressive link profiles’. Despite this, uneducated SEO companies still push to get clients involved in all manners of blog networks.
Manipulated websites managed by bad SEO companies often end up with a plethora of low quality and spammy backlinks. In turn, this will be seen by the powers that be as tantamount to black hat.
Finally, as a closing point (albeit not necessarily the least relevant): think in practical terms. Like any marketing service, SEO should come with first rate support and progress reports, and under no circumstances should third parties or outsourced staff be used without the client’s say so, they may have access to your valuable data and logins after all. Needless to say, this often does happen when costs are cut and services move offshore; more reason why it pays dividends to spend a little more, in more reliable places and get high-quality results. Don’t risk working with an SEO agency that could damage your site and reputation, its just not worth it.
For more information on our range of SEO services contact 01223 969373.