When it comes to investing in a marketing strategy, it is extremely important to allocate resources wisely. This applies to time, employees, contractors and, among other things, money. The importance of this is often stressed so much that individuals can become a little too obsessive about it, thinking that it is always best to save as much money and cut as many costs as possible. But when it comes to digital marketing, is this really the best mindset?
No. Take for example, low cost SEO services. An increasing number of companies are finding out that investing in this type of marketing, while being “cheap”, can end up doing more harm than good. The fact that these services are budget-friendly, and claim to be similar to more costly SEO services, doesn’t mean that they are of the same quality or will have the same impact. In fact, low cost SEO services often — but not always — prove to be more harmful than helpful to businesses and websites in general. Here’s how…
Low Cost = Low Quality…Most of the Time
Consider the following three reasons why low cost SEO services are usually a bad idea.
1) These services are often outsourced overseas. This doesn’t mean that there are not good overseas digital marketing companies/experts that can put in place a successful SEO campaign. However, this is how many low cost firms are able to offer “dirt cheap” SEO services, since it generally costs much less to pay overseas workers. However, this can present several problems. For example, time differences may make it difficult to communicate with workers and get a job done in a timely fashion. Also, some businesses report that the lack of training and expertise on the part of the employees that are actually driving the marketing strategy often times results in best practices being ignored and shortcuts are a much more common occurrence.
2) Even if not outsourced overseas, low cost firms often hire low cost staff. These may consist of recent college graduates and those with little on-the-job experience. The problem this creates is you have people applying what they know; which in this case would be little to no implementation of the marketing strategy you’ve paid for. The lack of experience alone diminishes the value of these services. Not to mention that these workers most likely execute on pre-built campaign structures; a subject we’ve written plenty about, which has left some businesses that offer these services slighty offended.
Ultimately, no matter the cost of the SEO services that you choose, you want to work with individuals who can tailor their strategies to your business needs and have the experience and expertise to do so successfully. Such inexperienced workers, who are basically “filling in the blanks” of a pre-made structure and are literally experimenting with digital marketing on your business’ website and your budget, cannot do this successfully most of the time.
3) Many services offered are either ineffective or could arouse Google’s suspicion. A lot of times, low cost services are automated. Hence, the low prices. But Google is continuously finding more ways to detect and render ineffective the strategies that go against its guidelines and TOS. For example, many automated link building, blog commenting and forum posting methods are now practically useless, though they may have been effective in the past.
Not only will these low cost services not work, they could catch Google’s attention and earn you a stiff penalty from which it could be very expensive, difficult and/or impossible to fully recover from.
When Low Cost Doesn’t Equal Low Quality
No, it’s not bad all the time. Getting SEO services on a budget can be really great if you are working within a tight budget or need very few services. One positive thing is that you can ensure continuous SEO efforts, which might otherwise be interrupted if you are unable to afford more expensive or extensive services on a regular basis. But, you have to do your homework first.
Before making a final decision and hiring an SEO firm, you should:
- Ask for and evaluate past work samples. If no samples can be produced, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.
- Check out references and reviews of the services that you’re considering. Try to look for reviews from those who were in need of similar services and evaluate their experiences. If you find more bad than good, move on.
- Consider language used, culture and location… especially if work is being outsourced. This is necessary simply because language, culture, interests, etc. can vary so much from place to place. And you want to be sure that whoever will be working for you can deliver a finished product that matches your brand’s voice and will appeal to your audience.
In short, less is not always the best when it comes to SEO and like many areas of life particularly as it relates to spending money… “you get what you pay for”. While all cheap digital marketing services aren’t bad and but can actually be helpful to some, caution must be exercised. Otherwise, you may find yourself throwing away money on services that don’t work or are not of a good quality, or even incurring penalties from the search engines.
If you need some specific direction on the type of services you want to stay away from, or a second set of eyes to review the cheap online marketing campaign you’re thinking about buying… let us know and we’ll see about providing our $0.02. Until then… Nomvo!