Cheap SEO Services

On the subject of cheap seo services and cheap search engine optimisation practices….

Someone just emailed me and said:

I emailed before about SEO service pricing…and mentioned I would “like” to pay around £199 month, however I would like to know your prices anyway if it is higher than that.

SEO can be an expensive proposition – with an office I pay rent for, computers and software to buy, equipment to rent and service, staffed with very experienced web designers, web developers, managers, copywriters and seo experts. It took me 10 years to learn and practice what I do, and I spend hours every day learning new skills, just like everybody else in this office. It’s a skilled practice, and Google constantly forces us to be on our toes, by constantly tweaking the ‘rules’.

Cheap seo is usually just that….. cheap seo. Like most things in life, cheap seo usually equates with low cost, low quality seo (and that has proven to be the case in 2015). Shortcuts get you penalised, fast, in 2015.

It took me a great many years to create a service focused around the small business. I’ve worked on it specifically for 2 years, and also, through a learning experience starting in 2006, when I co-founded Hobo.

SEO Is About Visibility

If you took out an ad in a local paper for £75 you would get 2 lines of text on a page that most people won’t read. You will not get into a national newspaper for that amount, full stop. That’s how much ‘visibility’ you get for your money in the real world. If you want visibility in the Google world, you’ll need to dance to Google’s tune, and that means investing in QUALITY signals Google can seperate the best from the rest. Google has started looking at QUALITY, TRUST and REPUTATION signals, and is actively penalising sites who try to rank without adding quality signals – like good content, good user experience, good accessibility.

SEO is a long term commitment. It takes a lot of time to do. It takes time to see the fruits of your labour, and your competitors are spending more ad money than you, probably.

For SEO to work, you need to do site audits, keyword research, onsite reconstruction, onsite optimisation, content analysis, site tests, industry and competitor analysis, and link build – all the while hunting for real authority links, and more….. constantly, and repeatedly, in some instances.

I’ve created processes and tools at Hobo specifically designed to maximise the potential of a seo budget – no matter what it is. Check out our new small business seo packages options or my professional seo audit page to give you an idea of how we optimise sites.

Learn About SEO

Consider learning SEO for your self – it’s not that hard, but it takes a lot of time to understand the nuances of it – and putting your cash into Adwords. There’s no guarantees with Adwords, either.

I’ve also tried to help by writing up a beginners guide to Google seo to introduce you to the finer elements of seo.

Your rankings in Google are a puzzle that needs to be solved – solving it takes time – time costs money. Our processes and tools work FAST to maximise your budget, improve traffic and save you money.

Avoid cheap seo services at all cost. Choose low cost, quality seo services.

Last Updated – Feb 2014

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32 Responses

  1. Brett Pringle says:

    Oh it really has nothing to do with your name Shaun :) We’ve had alot of those type of enquiries as well, down in SA, it is sometimes even worse! I think it boils down to people still not fully understanding the SEM industry and what is involved. Alot of times those tiny budget offerings come with the assumption that SEO’s will be adding “meta tags” or as some web developers say “keyword spamming” pages. Then add to that the small “scam” type SEO businesses that will take that budget, leading the client to believe they are getting full service, doing automated submissions/services and ultimately resulting in another SEO is a scam type vent. You always get what you pay for, the same applies to normal business models – buy cheap, bargain on issues. Not sure why SEM has to be different

  2. rishil says:

    I completely get what you are saying here – I started out with loads of small clients (hence my small biz series on SEOmoz) but over time it just wasnt sustainable. The demands made, although reasonable to them, were completely unreasonable for what the time taken would work out to. I think giving these businesses “Joint class” i.e 10 or so of them together, say at £75 each, with an overview on SEO and some learning material (like your ebooks), tips and tricks may be the way to go.

  3. Léo, Propulsr says:

    Hi Shaun, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Ok now that the shouting’s done, I saw an ad yesterday – relayed on Twitter – for “complete seo services” with a one-time/one-off payment of … wait for it … between 300 and 800 euros ! The “problem” is that many so-called SEO will take the money and add the site to one of their link farms which will then give a false impression of SEO’s worth. But you are correct in saying that that type of client usually generates more hassle – a lot more – than what they pay us for. I’ll help you with your link building for this page in a future post of mine ;) BTW why did you guys choose Hobo as the name of your company ?

  4. David says:

    I think its the way some people sell SEO like its some kind generic product that comes in a box. People need to realise that not all SEO is the same and you cant just tick the box to say your site is SEO’d. People always want to compare prices but the have no idea what they are buying so its never going to be an acurate comparison. I actually dont really think price matters, as long as you know what you are getting for your £75 a month and your happy with that then go for it, just dont be suprised if a competitor that is spending £750 a month is getting far more traffic and sales than you. People also need to realise that while you might charge twice the price per hour/month your knowledge and skill will produce three times the performance. Are clients wanting cheap SEO or are they wanting value for money?

  5. Kieron Hughes says:

    Spot on Shaun. You get what you pay for really, but some people seem to see the Internet as a place where real world pricing doesn’t apply.

  6. Joyce Kuras says:

    I agree with you. People do not understand what goes on behind the scenes. That is why I do part-time work from home so I don’t have any overhead expenses. That does enable me to be a bit more flexible. Thank you for your pdf ebooks. I appreciate them. FYI: You spelled accommodate incorrectly.

  7. MikeY - DIY SEO Tips says:

    They just don’t get it, do they? The long term benefits of DIY search engine optimization. They just don’t get it, do they? You must pay for time and expertise if you lack the knowledge and require DIFM. Even I, who try to give it away since I am on Pay It Forward mode, have trouble getting through to those that do not understand. They seem stuck in neutral.

  8. Alok says:

    Yeah. You can get lot of such request on sites like rentacoder wherein the client ask for top google ranking for keywords related to credit cards,real estate etc. for $50 – $200. I never bid on them but I see that they do attract lots of bids. Not sure what the coder supply them though.

  9. Shaun Anderson (Hobo says:

    Thanks for all the comments guys :)

  10. Alison Cross says:

    Shaun – might it be possible to come up with a greatly reduced package that could be made available to someone who only had £75 per month, on the proviso that they sign up for 12 months+? So you’d have your premium all singing, all dancing services and a couple of much smaller standalone packs? Then, once they are your client, you could start to offer them more of your services? Just a thought ;-) AX

  11. Adam Lee says:

    This post is ringing clear for me at the moment! I went to a start up exhibition the other week and didn’t see any SEO companies there but the companies that were there claimed to know SEO. Most of which selling crappy prebuilt websites with ‘built in SEO’ for £100! Obviously the people buying it didn’t have a clue so assumed it was right but its because small businesses see companies like this and website designers that claim to do SEO for next to nothing that they assume that is a reasonable amount of money. Making it very difficult for me and anyone else starting up an agency to get small clients at reasonable fees! Really like this article will use this as a similar response if that is OK?

  12. Paul Allen says:

    If they are only budgeting £75-£100 per month for work, they’re better off spending on an Ebook (or a normal book!) on SEO and having a go themselves. I’ve done bits and pieces for small companies in the past and it’s difficult to get a successful campaign running for so little investment. For a couple of hours, no-one is going to be able to have a big impact on things! Those are my thoughts anyway! Paul Good idea from Rishil by the way!

  13. Adam Wood says:

    This reminds me so much of this video about how “real life” would be if people treated all transactions the way small business owners treat outsourcers and freelancers:

  14. Adam Wood says:

    My approach to “we can’t afford it” for SEO, webdesign, content creation, etc… is to also offer training. Some people will pay a few hundred dollars for a couple hours of my time. I go over the basics or whatever, so they feel like they can do it themselves. If it turns out they can do it themselves- great. Everyone’s happy. I got paid for my time. Maybe they’ll buy my book too, or at least subscribe to my blog and tell their friends. Often, they start to realize how unable they are to do all these things, and come back to hire us after a month or two. But this time, they know why they need to hire us, and how much time/effort/experience goes into it.

  15. Bill | Edward Rayne says:

    Maybe it’s because were in a small backwater market (Topeka Ks, USA) or maybe it’s because were a small 2 person outfit but for whatever reason about 75% of our inquiries are of this nature. I have found that almost all of them just don’t have any idea how to value SEO. Once we sit down with them and explain what we do and how it works we manage to convert about half to paying customers. Anyhow, enough rambling, thanks for the post it was spot on. Another great resource to use to reinforce the true value of SEO for our clients.

  16. Tom Bathgate says:

    Seems to be the way things are going now a days people want everything for cheap. I get lots of enquiries for websites and singing lessons (i’m a singing teacher too) but as soon as price is mentioned you never hear from people again, which in my opinion is just rude. People don’t seem to understand how much work goes into websites and seo and how much effort, planning and research they are paying for. They can’t just have it all for nothing. As they say you pay for what you get, and i have no doubt that Hobo are worth every penny! (just wish I could afford all those pennies for my business!)

  17. Bill Marshall says:

    We’ve all been there Shaun. I used to spend large parts of my day answering phone calls for SEO and the most important task was weeding out the people who either didn’t have the budget or were going to be more hassle than they were worth. While there are some people who are genuinely just trying to avoid being ripped off by the rogues who we all know are around at the bottom end of the business, there are too many who simply don’t understand that a website is a real business rather than some simple get-rich-quick scheme or a build-it-cheap-and-forget-it adjunct, and it needs proper business thinking to make a success of it. My definition of “what SEO is” may well be wider than most but in practice I often end up dissecting a client’s business and giving them advice on business planning, general marketing, customer handling and psychology, etc. etc. as well as understanding their website well enough to promote it. Even a narrower definition of SEO is far from the bolt-on approach that the folk who want it cheap seem to expect. If they won’t commit money then they probably won’t commit effort either, in which case the project will fail no matter what you do. Next one you get Shaun, ask them how much an hour their local plumber charges!

  18. Curtis says:

    Great post Shaun! I wish all small business owners understood this concept. I am running into the same issues. As small business owners get more and more savvy with SEM, they are realizing that SEO is probably a better long term solution for their traffic needs instead of PPC. I used to be an ex AT&T Search Engine Marketing Specialist and those big companies push PPC so hard that most businesses are tired of hearing about it. Everyone and their mother cold calls these SMB’s to try and get PPC business. Advertisers hate it and are tired of it! They are now more interested in SEO and Social Media, but the problem comes in when they don’t understand the amount of hours it takes to correctly perform SEO. The research and analysis that goes into the initital phases and then the hours after that of link building, content writing, etc. It’s a skill set, as you mentioned, that cannot be learned overnight and takes years of practice. You can’t put a price on that. The experience us SEO’s have is invaluable and priceless in my opinion. Think about what happens when you finally get that SMB in the top spot for his/her keyword phrase. It can change that company’s future! If small business owners can’t afford a true SEO, which is seemingly quite expensive to the SMB because they don’t know what they are dealing with, then I agree with you in that they should try and learn it on their own. Great post. Thanks again.

  19. Nick Wilsdon says:

    Hey Shaun Well being based in Russia you can probably guess we’ve had our share of these types of emails ;0) Sad thing is – you couldn’t even buy a decent Indian/Russian SEO at that rate either, but people seem to look at India/Russia etc. and assume wages are very low there. They are lower, but not *that* much lower people! Either way we don’t do English SEO anymore – just Russian marketing only these days (Yandex etc.). It’s a great niche and we have excellent Int’l clients. We do sometimes get these low-price inquiries from Russian firms but funnily enough they have never managed to match the lowest figures I’ve had from US-based inquiries. As you say though – you have to take your business seriously. Would you launch any business on that kind of budget? You get the feeling some people still believe the web is circa 1999 and with a little effort they can be the next Amazon. Unfortunately those times have changed now and the big boys have moved into the space. To get traction for your business you now need to take the medium and budgets much more seriously.

  20. Joseph says:

    At £75 even a free lancer with a good track record of having optimized a few sites successfully will not accept the job – even in India. For £150 a month , maybe but it will take about 2 months (£300) for website Analysis, Keyword Research and on site optimization with content rewriting of a small site only up to 20 pages. People do not realize that a lot of work goes into optimization, and besides there are a lot of overheads.

  21. Gregor says:

    Sadly it’s quite likely that these people will end up going to someone who will charge them £75 to do it and end up wasting their money. You do get what you pay for and if you go for a bargain basement service then you’ll get a bargain basement result!

  22. Tim Hatton says:

    All too true… we specifically started running SEO Best Practice workshops for people contacting us with small budgets as there’s no way we could service their needs properly on the tiny budgets they were willing to spend, so we tell them the basics, open their eyes to the budget, experience and – most importantly – time it takes to do properly.

  23. Toni Anicic says:

    It is so true that you get what you paid for. If your budget is £150, you’ll get a few hours from it. That’s not enough to do anything. The question is, what to do with these clients? To simply tell them you can’t do it with that budget, or to work a few hours for them?

  24. Jim Slinowsky says:

    Shaun, I like the name of your company… There must be an interesting story behind why you picked it? I also encounter pricing resistance from prospective clients and because I am working on expanding my free lance practice, I accept some of them when things are a little slow. I view this as an investment activity on my part, in order to grow a happy client base and increase word of mouth referrals. To make this a profitable move, I use automated tools almost exclusively to minimize the time spent and have the client provide the base content for article/blog posts, which I then tweak for link building purposes. This is slow, but these customers typically are looking to establish a presence in their local markets for niches that are not all that competitive (100K to 2 million result pages per keyword) and it works out pretty well for all concerned. Just thought I’d throw out a little different perspective, Jim

  25. Kaushal Shah says:

    As everyone said, “You Get What You Pay For”, but there are so many so called SEO professionals that can work for the price mentioned (£75). I think its more about awareness of the SEM industry. I had one website design client telling me that he doesn’t need SEO, he will put adsense on his site and he will be on top in Google. I feel pity for this kind of “little-educated” clients. I feel we have to do free SEO seminars to create awareness for the industry… That will be possible if we are free from our routine life…

  26. Samuel Lavoie says:

    The fact that all the web design company were selling “seo” which was just a few directory and search engine submission, really didn’t help to educate clients. And a lot of web design are educating client about this kind of “seo” for 10 years, the SEO industry need to step up and educate clients. Usually when they understand the benefits they find the money… :)

  27. Oliver Feakins says:

    the fact remains that there will always be somebody who will do the job for cheaper. the sell has to be for quality and results which people are willing to pay a lot more for.

  28. Diogo Neves says:

    I actually only believe in SEO companies that only want to be paid after the result. You know some? Like a webdeveloper, they only get paid after website is done!

  29. Joseph says:

    @Curtis Quote: This is slow, but these customers typically are looking to establish a presence in their local markets for niches that are not all that competitive (100K to 2 million result pages per keyword) and it works out pretty well for all concerned. Absolutely to the point. I have also observed the same. In local markets you can sometimes rank on the first page with on-Site Optimization alone, if you have good relevant content. A few links from industry specific directories and regional directories would add to the ranking. For such (low competition) search terms the content from such directories often appears on the search results.

  30. Baz says:

    Hi Shaun, I agree with what you are saying to a point, however, I also think that there is still a place for cheaper SEO services. My argument would be that it is always better to be doing SOME SEO, than NO SEO. Even if an SEO just tweaked a page title from “untitled” to “Buy Widget XYZ in Timbuktu” it is going to stand a better chance of ranking than without the change. The cost for changing a few page titles, shouldn’t come to anywhere near £150, if it is just a few pages. Anybody that says otherwise is overcharging. Where it SHOULD cost a lot more is paying for the knowledge and research time spent researching what the correct/best page titles should be. However, even a “best guess” from the site owner, who lets assume knows their business better than we do, will be better than a “untitled” page title. So, I think so long as the customers expectations are reflected in the price they pay, then SEO can still be performed at a lower price… it will just take a lot longer to achieve the desired results. So long as both the client and the SEO know this, then that’s fine. Not every small business has thousands of pounds to spend from day 1. And using your analogy of the TV set… granted, they may not be able to afford the 100 inch Plasma immediately… but maybe they would consider a 40 inch LCD as a temporary measure until the 100 inch becomes affordable. Thats my view anyway. I think the key thing is, both sides need to realise that the expectations must meet the budget available.

  31. Adrian | Impact Medi says:

    Good post Shaun. Seems like there’s a lot of people out there who want ‘top-notch’ SEO services but begrudge paying for the expertise. I guess the industry doesn’t help itself too much either having its fair share of unscrupulous operators who do promise much for low fees and seem quite happy to deliver very little.

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