Many businesses turn to digital marketing since it’s cost effective compared to traditional advertising. A popular facet of modern digital marketing is SEO (search engine optimization). For smaller businesses, it’s actually preferable to do SEO rather than advertising on Facebook and Google as it’s much more cost-effective, albeit slower to show results.
The beauty of a well run SEO campaign is that you keep paying the same amount monthly and you keep getting a higher and higher return on your investment case and point Dr. Kate Kass. Our client went from 300 visitors a month to 1800, 6-timing her traffic all while paying the same amount of money.
However, you still need a decent amount of money for quality SEO that delivers results and not everyone can afford it. Going cheap and hiring an SEO agency for $500 to $1000 dollars a month on anything other than consulting will most likely get you nothing but a lot of undelivered promises. Cheap, low quality waste of time services that can actually hurt your business.
Your campaign will end up looking like garbage.
So if you can’t afford quality SEO but are convinced it can be good for your business, what are your options? Let’s discuss.
Remember, Hiring an Agency Doesn’t Guarantee Success
We usually charge a minimum of $3000 dollars a month.
Now you may be thinking, “Jesus!, that’s a huge risk!”.
The simple truth is, it is. This is why during our initial interviews with clients, we ask them about their revenue, business goals, and do our own keyword research to reduce risk. There’s no such thing as a risk free business and the only things life guarantees are death and taxes. If you can’t afford $3000 a month I suggest learning and implementing SEO until you can.
How Much Money Should You Be Paying Agencies?
What do I recommend as an affordable agency rate? If your SEO campaign costs more than 10% of your revenue, then I recommend doing it yourself and personally would not take the risk (as a general rule). 10% is still high by the way it means you’re only investing on SEO.
I’ve personally never seen an agency I respect charge less than $1500 a month for campaigns. If you find one have them call me for referrals.
We have had small business clients that invested 30% of all their businesses revenue into SEO and it worked, but that’s a huge risk. If you want to gamble risk spending more than 30% of your business revenues in SEO I’d recommend at least building a few backlinks yourself, reading the Moz guide, and running a successful adwords campaign.
When It’s Better to Just Train SEO In-house
If a core function of your business relies on SEO then you should never hire an agency to do the work for you (this is why we also have a teaching model at our agency as well). You should NEVER outsource your company’s core value. Example: An accounting company that outsources its accounting would be under the control of whoever they’re paying to deliver services.
Are there exceptions? Sure, but for the most part NEVER outsource a business’s core strength unless you’d like to be held hostage.
A news company for example should have an internal SEO team because traffic is a vast majority of their business and if a third-party SEO company stops working with them then they can fall apart or lose a huge competitive advantage. The New York Times for example actually had a 52% traffic increase after using structured data!
In this scenario its best to hire a properly qualified SEO agency to teach you how to build these services in house.
On the other hand, a doctor’s core strength is treating patients. Hence, it would make much more sense for them to outsource their SEO because it doesn’t outsource their core strength, aka it would be very hard for a marketing agency to hold them hostage.
If you are still headstrong on doing SEO with an agency (like ours 😉 ), make sure the agency you’re working with doesn’t white label or use an outside team for any of their services. If they white label then you’re most likely just being charged extra fees from a middle man. I’ll write a more in depth article on white labeling agencies later.
If You Can’t Afford SEO What Do You Do?
Well follow my checklist and start implementing it yourself. After you master the basics you can then hire an agency when your company is big enough to afford SEO or create a system and improve it yourself.
PS: MAKE SURE YOU DON’T BUY BACKLINKS
Sure you might have a friend named Bob that has bought backlinks and gotten away with it. But just because they did, doesn’t mean you will. This is analogous to shoplifting because your friend got away with it.
Our Basic SEO Checklist
Note: This is a basic checklist and NOT advanced info. If you’re looking for really high end detailed and custom consulting you’ll most likely have to pay for it from an expert. Every industry and niche is different, it’s up to you to figure out those nuances.
Here are the top 3 things you should learn if you’re going to do SEO yourself and the top 3 things you should learn within those top 3. 🙂 Top 3 Inception!
I’m going to write an article about each so let me know what you’d like to see first! 🙂
They say content is king and that’s true, however writing more is not always the solution to increasing traffic. Here are 3 things you should do before creating content and that landing page is content too by the way, don’t fool yourself:
- Research. You should do research on your niche and keywords you want to rank for and there’s a specific way to do this. Make sure you list your top 5 competitors, create a customer profile and find your top 5 keywords.
- Follow a high quality content process. Having high quality well structured content that actually answers the question of what you want to rank for is going to save you tons of time and earn brownie points with google. You should build a trusted helpful brand online and google will love that not to mention your clients. The top marketing companies build communities.
- Tag optimization. You need to optimize your Meta-titles, Meta descriptions, H1’s, H2’s etc on each piece of content. Ideally you should also structure your data in an organized manner where you can.
Imagine that you’re trying to be the biggest singer in the world. Having a great voice (the product or service) you sell is great, but spending time promoting yourself is just as important. Time building a link is a cost. Here are 3 link building basic processes and skills you should learn.
- Promoting yourself online. Social media, guest blog posts, podcasts, QA sites and more is a great way to build your authority (ultimately what getting a link means). If you do this right you can get backlinks you never even built yourself from people you don’t know that dig your site! 🙂
- Competitor link analysis. Map out your competitors’ backlinks and get an idea of which types you should consider.
- Link cost calculations. Figure out the costs associated with each backlink building process and make sure you’re building the right ones. Time building a link is a cost too, just because you’re not paying anyone anything doesn’t mean it doesn’t cost anything.
Technical SEO can be super complicated, however at the surface level there are still basic things you can do to put yourself ahead of the pack. Remember that 80% of the internet doesn’t optimize for SEO, this is why you can always have an advantage since most people don’t have the money, willingness or knowledge to put the work in on most things in life.
- Fix any 404 redirects. Make sure you have no broken links or pages on your site. This one is trickier and you’ll need to be a bit more careful here, however its not as hard as it sounds. Essentially all of the pages that come as 404 on google should be redirected with a 301.
- Site speed. The faster the site the more your audience will love it, we’ll go over the basic ways of optimizing your sites speed.
- Site structure. Make sure that your site is structured well and easily usable by your audience.