Let's imagine that you're going scuba diving and you need to buy equipment. When you go to buy the tank who do you buy from: a five-star, expensive company or a three-star, less expensive company? The five-star guarantees its tanks will not leak, while the three-star makes the same promises, but its reviews are filled with horror stories from customers.
The answer is pretty obvious. Naturally, you don't want to run out of air while deep under water so it's justifiable to pay a little more for a product you know you can trust. The same method applies when spending money on quality SEO services. You tend to get exactly what you paid for.
So why are quality SEO services really a better deal? Read to find out!
What makes a great SEO consultant?
Most business owners tend to think of SEO as a one-stop shop, something they do once and almost never worry about again. The fact is that SEO is a complicated, ongoing process that doesn't end, and involves more than just a nice website. If you want to climb to the top of Google search results, you're going to need so much more and better yet, someone who knows how to do it.
The best SEO consultants start by looking at three aspects of any business. They look for potential risks and opportunities within your industry while taking careful stock of the competition in your marketplace. Finally, they look over what you've been doing to improve your SEO strategy and assess the resources you have on hand to improve it.
It's important for every client to know that all businesses are unique in their SEO strategies. What works for a restaurant will not work for home designer. Even companies within the same industry are rarely ever alike. They're all at different stages of growth and development so no campaigns will ever be the same.
If you have a consultant who is willing to give you a flat price without looking at your company, keep looking. A good consultant won't be able to give you a definite price until he or she has had a look at your company's current standings. They'll usually quote based on two factors:
- How much time they anticipate will be spent optimising your website and completing an SEO strategy
- The amount of experience, insight and knowledge they offer
As with hair stylists, chefs and home designers, you're usually more prone to paying more for the services these professionals offer because let's face it: no one wants to walk out with a bad haircut.
No really, what will I pay?
If you're still hung up on the price of quality SEO services, think of it this way: when you buy a home for yourself and your family, what does it cost? That depends, right? Even if you're buying a home or an apartment for yourself, you want something that will be thoroughly satisfying and is of the highest quality that you can afford. It's not about the granite countertops or the fancy fixtures, but rather the strong, sturdy building materials that will withstand extreme heats and colds as well as having great products like a reliable furnace and air conditioner that won't let you down when you need them most.
This is what SEO is all about, creating a lasting image that your customers will return to again and again. Nothing about SEO is standard or "turnkey." All of it is specific to your company.
So with that being said, there isn't an exact price that any consultant can (or should) quote you on. Most consultants take a guess and give you a quote, but these are often shots-in-the-dark at what really needs to be done. Other consultants agonise over analysing nearly every aspect of your company, but when they do give you a quote, you can bet they know what they're talking about.
Give you consultant access to all sales data, ROI metrics and estimates of organic search traffic. These will help him or her decide what need to be done, which keywords they should target and how they can better target your conversion rate.
How do I know if I'm not getting a good deal?
There are a few companies who offer some seemingly "good" offers on SEO services, but if you see any of the following offers, don't waste your time:
- Cookie Cutters: These companies offer packaged deals that are directed at just a few areas of SEO. The problem is you don't know if those areas are what you're lacking so how will you know if they'll actually help?
- Content Management System (CMS): CMS vendors tend to offer SEO services for free or at a super low discount. Don't be fooled. Their tactics are usually general and not at all specific to what you really need.
- Friend of a Friend: Unless that friend works for a reputable consulting company, don't bother. Having a neighbour or a co-worker's programmer nephew take a crack at your SEO is basically throwing money down the drain, even if he does charge less.
- Checklist Vendors: Possibly the worst type of SEO consultants, these vendors have a list of SEO factors that they will check off as they go through their standard process. It's the same process that every company gets, and there's no variation for your company.
Cookie cutter packages. Photo: CC BY SA 2012 Luke Loughead
If you're truly looking to improve your SEO, bite the bullet and pay for a quality consultant who has years of experience. This consultant knows that SEO is a multi-step process that involves a combination of link building, content and social media marketing, and responsive web design. He or she is up-to-date on all of Google algorithm changes and understands that these will change again. Google made over 650 updates to its algorithm in 2013 so you want someone who is going to update your site as new changes are made.
A good consultant is constantly evolving. As new keywords become popular, user needs change and methods become outdated, it is up to your consultant to make sure your company is always searchable to meet these needs. High quality SEO services can only come from a professional consultant who knows the rules of the game and will keep you growing and successing.