Affordable SEO: What You Need to Know

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I’m in a group of friends who are working on cleaning up our diets, and the other day, someone sent a meme to the group that read “You are what you eat. So don’t be fast, cheap, easy, or fake.” It completely applies to what we eat — and the more I thought about it, the more I realized it applies to our search engine optimization. When you’re looking for affordable SEO, there are a few things you’ll want watch for.

Defining Affordable SEO

First things first. Before we can really dive in and talk about affordable SEO, we should figure out what the phrase really means. Look at these definitions of affordable SEO and pick the most accurate definition.

  1. Affordable SEO is search engine optimization that costs less than $500 each month.
  2. Affordable SEO is search engine optimization that costs between $501 and $2,500 each month.
  3. Affordable SEO is search engine optimization that costs as little as possible.
  4. Affordable SEO is search engine optimization that costs less than what someone else would charge you for the same services.

So, which answer did you pick? To be honest, I wouldn’t pick any as a blanket definition for affordable SEO, and I hope you didn’t either. Affordable is a highly subjective qualifier. Businesses making millions annually might look at spending $5,000 or even $10,000 per month for search engine optimization and think that it barely affects their bottom line. That would be affordable for them. If your business is making $75,000 a year, though, spending even $5,000 per month significantly cuts into your profit.

Calling something affordable really depends on the amount you have to spend. It’s highly relative.

Then, once you’ve found something that you feel is affordable, you need to put that in the context of the quality you’re receiving. Just like your food shouldn’t be fast, cheap, easy, or fake, neither should your search engine optimization. Developing a solid SEO strategy is an investment that takes time, patience, and effort.

Affordable SEO can be something that eludes you. Perhaps you’ve found a company whose work you appreciate, but whose prices are out of your budget. Or maybe, you’ve found an SEO agency with prices you can afford, but doesn’t have the same quality you’d hoped to find. Finding an an agency or professional who can meet both your SEO and budgetary needs is like finding the perfect meal out: made with high-quality, clean ingredients that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. The good thing is, it’s out there. You just need to know where to find it — an what to avoid along the way.

What To Watch For When You’re Looking

When you’re hiring a company that advertises affordable SEO, keep in mind that affordable is relative for SEO agencies, just like it is for the companies hiring them. A company that offers a package at a lower price might also have a smaller package, less experience, or a more focused area of expertise — or any one of countless other reasons that were used to determine the pricing structure.  Keep the following in mind when you’re ready to purchase a plan.

1. You Have to Spend Money to Make Money

It may be an overused adage, but it’s true. If you want to see your search engine optimization budget, well, optimized, look for a company that can help you make the decisions that will grow your company’s efforts. When you’re looking at packages, remember that a low-budget price tag will keep you from some of the more extensive actions that may be required to truly see an impact. For example, quality content creation requires copywriters who understand your keywords and your audience. Optimized Web site architecture requires a developer who understands how to make your site easy-to-index by the search engines.

There are some things you’ll be able to do, like keyword research. But those things can only go so far without building them into a larger plan.

2. Don’t Be Fast

Just like everything else, quality SEO requires time. In one Forbes article, an SEO specialist broke down the activities that should be taken for SEO growth.

  • Month 1: Research, Web site audit, strategic planning
  • Month 2: Technical SEO
  • Month 3: Content creation
  • Month 4: Enhancing content, technical SEO, and link profile
  • Month 5: Social media management
  • Month 6: Conversion rate optimization

Based on his plan, which is par for the industry, you could start to see growth in four to six months.

Success by any standard rarely comes within the first 3 months, even with a healthy SEO budget,” he wrote.

Any SEO expert will tell you something similar. You can’t expect to sink money into your search engine optimization for a few months and expect to not only see instant growth, but to also maintain that growth. SEO requires patience and a long-standing commitment to your activities. Like marketing and development, look for a company that will help you develop a plan that you have both the funds and ability to implement.

3. Don’t Be Easy

Sure, plenty of specialists have written articles with headlines like “SEO So Simple a Child can Do It: In 5 Easy Steps,” and “Why SEO is Much Easier Than You Think.” In the first article, the author notes that his 14-year-old daughter saw great Google success, and that her “results are replicable with the right knowledge and the right strategies.” In the second, the author notes that SEO is no longer difficult — but it is “a time-intensive strategy, and it does demand significant attention.”

When we think about something easy, we think that we can quickly and with little effort reach the goals. For example, an easy diet goal is to swap juice for water with a piece of fruit. You’re not losing much in terms of flavor and you’re gaining the many health benefits. It takes little time, and very little effort.

In SEO, though, just because the steps have become replicable and ordered, doesn’t mean they are easy. You’re still going to need a strategy, you’re still going to need to sink time into what you’re doing, and you’re still going to have to regularly monitor and manage the efforts you’ve put in place. It won’t be easy — it shouldn’t be easy — but it will definitely be rewarding. It doesn’t matter how qualified the specialist is, if they say affordable SEO is easy, take a second look before committing.

4. Don’t Be Cheap

If you’re looking for affordable SEO, you would definitely prefer something cheap over something expensive. However, think about all the times you’ve purchased the cheap option over the more expensive option. In many cases, you’re also losing out on quality, on consistency, and on results. My husband and I made the choice last year to switch our cell phone provider to take advantage of a better deal. We also found out later that we were also taking advantage of fewer towers, older technology, and dead zones around almost every corner. Cheap — or affordable — has left us with a lower bill, yes, but also less reliability.

Affordable can be good. It’s important to pay attention to the costs of your business and to look for places to stretch your dollar. Being cost-conscious is crucial to making your business grow. But you need to think about the true cost of your investments. With the long-term nature of search engine optimization, you won’t know for a few months if your SEO strategy is working or not. If you’ve picked an affordable SEO company based on price alone, you may have sunk your money into a losing investment, both financially and in terms of your search engine results.

5. Don’t Be Fake

I think this is the key to a successful strategy, whether you’re looking for the the most expensive or affordable SEO plans out there. It’s important for both you and the agency to be honest: with yourselves, each other, and your customers.

An agency that promotes affordable SEO should be upfront about the levels of experience and expertise that will be applied toward your strategy. For example, a company that promises growth but has little experience with content creation won’t be able to give your target audience members the valuable information and education that will entice them to click on your link and visit your Web site. An agency that promises a full Web site rebuild without the necessary development experience won’t be able to apply the same in-depth technique to ensuring your site’s architecture is up to par.

At the same time, you need to make an honest assessment of your needs and your ability to pay for the services you’re seeking. Before you start working with companies, consider this post Gabe wrote about finding the approximate timetable and cost for your next project. While this was made to help businesses find out the best way to price and schedule their products, you can also use it in reverse. Think about the different things that go into the fabrication of, in this case, a table. The size, the material, the finish, the design, the timetable…each of these plays a part in your pricing structure.

The same is true for SEO services. How much do you want the company to do for you? Will you create your own content? Do you have a developer on staff to rebuild your Website? Have you had your Web site and SEO audited already? While you won’t be able to find the exact price, looking at the many different areas that make up on-page, off-page, and technical SEO can at least give you a starting point for your SEO strategy.

The most important area to not be fake? With your customers. The content you create should add value and enhance their lives. Strive to always leave them wanting more. Such a vast number of words are published on the Internet every single day, and you’re not only vying with your competitors for the attention of your target audience, but with everyone who produces content that your target audience might also find interesting. Giving them content they find valuable is what will set you apart from each of the other blog posts or content pieces they might have chosen to read instead of yours.

Share yourself with them. Let your personality shine through. Tell them what’s really going on, to a limit, and what we can learn from the challenges facing our companies right now. Think about the tone you’ll use. Are you producing very technical articles, or are they lighthearted? Do you prefer a more rigid, less emotionally charged piece filled with details that would appeal to an audience with a very in-depth understanding of the subject, like a b2b product? Do you want to reach more members of the general public with a lighthearted blog that invokes whimsy, humor, and more general speech?

Your content should be relevant to your company and, most importantly, should be real.

I’ll be real with you. I know this might sound like affordable SEO is hard to find. Luckily, it’s not. Contact Copywriter Today for a free Web site audit and assessment. Our professionals will take a look at your SEO efforts so far, your overall SEO strategy, and will help you put together an affordable SEO plan that accounts for what you’re already doing in your efforts, adding new tasks an ideas, and removing the pieces that aren’t producing any results for you. We’ll only have this SEO analysis for a short time, so look at this as the kickstarter to your affordable SEO diet overhaul.

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