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There are certain things in life that you just don’t want to be cheap about. Like buying a car seat or shopping for a brain surgeon. Just as a skimpy car seat can put your little bundle o’ joy at risk and an average-at-best brain surgeon puts your little bundle o’ medulla oblongata at risk, a discount SEO company puts your website and its online visibility at risk.
While your website isn’t nearly as important to you as your brain or your baby, I still don’t recommend being cheap about who you hire to do your SEO. If you rely on your website as a steady source of leads (and consequently, sales) for your company, I’d argue that having a quality SEO company is extremely comparable to having a quality car seat.
Why It Doesn’t Pay to Use a Cheap SEO Company
If a company offers to do your SEO for $50 a month and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. To understand why, you have to understand what it takes to rank on the first page—or better yet, in the first spot—of search engine results.
To be clear, Google’s algorithm for search rankings is not public information. What is public information, however, is Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, which outline the best practices for helping Google find, crawl, and index your site.
What It Takes to Rank
A solid site code and structure foundation
If SEO is like building a house, your website’s site code and structure is that house’s foundation. When you optimize the structure and code of your company’s website, you help ensure your content is ranked by search engines and found by customers. That’s why when we sign on new clients at Blue Corona, one of the first things we do is analyze their site code and structure for errors and make changes to improve their site’s “crawlability.”
Some of this gets pretty technical—creating sitemaps, detecting and correcting 404 errors and 410 errors, creating 301 and 303 redirects when appropriate, improving site speed, etc. So technical, in fact, that we have a full-time team of programmers and Web developers to handle it. Do you think a quality SEO company can afford to give you that kind of support for only a $50 a month investment?
Webpages rank—not websites—so each page of on-site content should be individually optimized with keyword research, title tags, meta descriptions, calls-to-action, and at the very least, 300 words of helpful text for your users.
In addition, search engines also like to see “fresh” content so they can assure your site information isn’t outdated. Creating a content calendar of new blog topics, expanded service offerings, and the optimization of your current content can ensure that your site never goes dormant.
If you own a small to medium sized company, it’s understandable that you don’t have time to write this content yourself and don’t have the resources to hire a full time copywriter. Outsourcing your content marketing is a completely viable option, but if you’re only paying $50 a month, you’re going to get what you pay for.
Last year, I had one of my clients leave me for a cheap SEO company. For only $50 a month, they gave him a new website with loads of content. Unfortunately, all of that content was scraped, spun, or straight up duplicated from other sources—making it unlikely to rank and highly susceptible to a Google penalty.
My ex-client’s rankings were plummeting, and he was losing enough leads to significantly impact his business. He ended up having to lay off a few of his employees.
I’m happy to report the client is back with us and we’re helping him regain his lost rankings. He learned the hard way that it doesn’t pay to use a cheap SEO company, so hopefully you won’t have to.
With a decent marketing budget, it’s not hard to get your site structure and content primed for ranking in the search engines. Authority is much harder to fake—which is why it’s so valuable to Google.
Your site’s authority is determined by things like how old your domain is as well as how many other high quality sites link to yours. And this part of SEO—the linkbuilding part—is what causes so many websites to wind up with Google penalties, leaving them nowhere to be found on the first 10 pages of search results. If your cheap SEO company is building what Google refers to as “unnatural links” pointing back to your website, that company is doing you much more harm than good in the long run.
In addition to having high quality, natural links, it helps to optimize local directory listings with consistent NAP citations as well as create and maintain active social media profiles. Fow the huck can your SEO company afford to do that, along with create quality content and optimize your site structure for only $50 a month? Easy. They can’t. They’re scamming you.
Just How Much Can a Cheap SEO Company Cost Your Business?
I already mentioned that one of my clients briefly switched to a cheap SEO company and ended up losing enough of his rankings and, consequently, Web leads, that he was forced to lay off several employees.
But even if you’re starting from square one and don’t have any rankings and Web leads to lose, like he did, a cheap SEO company can still cost you big time.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that Google offers guidelines for getting ranked in its search results. In an effort to eliminate webspam and create the best user experience for searchers, Google actually penalizes those who violate its quality guidelines. In some cases, this can even result in complete removal from the search results, though more often we see sites just get dropped to page 10 or lower of search results (where no one can hear them scream…).
Once you’ve gotten a Google penalty, there’s no clear answer on how long it will take to get it lifted. While big brands like Interflora and Rap Genius were known to recover quickly (11 and 10 days, respectively), 53 percent of webmasters reported that their rankings never improved, even a year after their manual action was lifted.
That’s a year of no rankings, no Web leads, and no Web sales. Can your business afford that?
At Blue Corona, we take pride in not being a “cheap” SEO company. Fill out the form below or call us today to discuss our pricing options.
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About The Author: Blue Corona is a data-driven online marketing company with offices in Gaithersburg, MD and Charlotte, N.C.
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