Here’s the hard truth: cheap SEO is too good to be true.
Just because you’re better than your competitors in ‘real life’ (better products, better workmanship, better results, etc.) doesn’t always mean you’ll get a better search ranking.
Google and Bing search results are extremely competitive.
If somebody’s ranking higher than you, it’s likely because they hired an SEO company to optimize their website.
And the only effective way to outrank them is to beat them at their own game.
There’s just one problem…
Bad SEO is Worse Than No SEO at All
Many SEO companies are more interested in your money than your success.
Doing SEO cheaply is not only detrimental to your website traffic but can also harm your business’s reputation both online and offline.
The long-term risks of cheap SEO include:
- Loss of business revenue;
- Getting banned from search results, period; and
- Handing all your potential search revenue to your competitors
Those are the consequences we want to help you avoid. So, in this article, we lay it all out on the table.
Read on to learn all about:
- How, exactly, cheap SEO can tank your business
- Biggest red flags of cheap SEO
- Black Hat vs. Grey Hat vs. White Hat SEO (and why it matters)
- What GOOD SEO can do for your business
1. How Cheap SEO Can Tank Your Business
Google and Bing are for-profit companies, and their customers are search engine users. This means that both Google and Bing want to give people the best, most relevant search results. Search engines have spent years building parameters to identify high quality, relevant search results.
The problem is that bad actors frequently reverse engineer these parameters to exploit rankings, which results in low quality search results and poor user experience. As a result, Google and Bing regularly update their algorithm to identify manipulative SEO tactics and suss out actions that are fake and spammy.
Cheap SEO services often use manipulative tactics that go against search engine guidelines.
Google and Bing actively scan the web for these shady practices using the most advanced machine learning algorithms available.
You might not get caught right away, but you must assume you will get caught at some point.
And when that happens, you can lose traffic, get block-listed, and potentially forfeit all your future search traffic to your competitors.
a. Cheap SEO Decimates Your Website Traffic
Organic search is by far the #1 source of website traffic online, and the most authentic.
If you successfully rank at the top of the search results, you will benefit from more clicks and visits to your website, presenting an opportunity to turn those clicks into customers.
Poorly done SEO can tank your ranking, meaning customers won’t be able to find you and will click on your competitors instead.
b. Cheap SEO Gets You Block-listed from Google and Bing
Google and Bing’s top priority is to create a positive user experience, so penalizing manipulative tactics is smart business for them.
Using cheap SEO tactics will cause search engines to penalize and even ban you, banning you from appearing in search results at all until the issue is rectified.
A search penalty means a real and immediate loss of potential revenue for your business.
If you ignore the penalty, you will find it almost impossible to recover. Your site traffic will continue to drop steadily, leaving you behind the competition and low on stamina to make a comeback.
c. Cheap SEO Funnels Revenue to Your Competitors
Now, you’re block-listed from the search results. So, who do you think all those potential customers are going to click on instead of you?
You already know the answer.
Shooting yourself in the foot with manipulative SEO is like handing your customers revenue on a silver platter.
Plus, ethical SEO practices can take weeks or months to have an impact. So, the more time and money you waste on cheap SEO, the longer you will have to wait for results on good SEO when you finally switch gears.
It’s not worth the risk.
2. How to Spot Red Flags for Cheap SEO
Hiring cheap SEO services can have serious immediate and long-term consequences to your business that can be difficult or even impossible to recover from.
To avoid them, you need to know what to look out for.
First, there’s some SEO industry jargon you need to know. These are the labels we use to separate cheap, manipulative SEO tactics from legitimate SEO: white hat, gray hat, and black hat.
- White Hat SEO services follow the search engine-approved guidelines for optimizing a website. White hat SEO focuses on improving the user experience and creating high-quality content. There is zero risk in using white hat SEO.
- Black hat SEO services rely on manipulating and violating search engine algorithms against guidelines to improve your search rankings. The short-term goals of black hat SEO services are to get you fast-paced wins to fool you into thinking their services have the best and fastest results on the market. Manipulating the algorithm is not effective because it can never keep up with Google’s constant updates, which results in your rankings being wiped out due to unethical practices. Black hat SEO is extremely risky.
- Gray hat SEO services test the limits of what search engines allow, exploiting ‘gray areas’ in the guidelines. Once a gray hat tactic becomes known, search engines often crack down hard, which will cost you the same way as black hat SEO. The results do not stick well over time and require repeated work. Grey hat SEO is very risky.
No serious business should never engage in black hat SEO. Your website will no longer be trustworthy to users or search engines, and recovery could take years.
Although gray hat SEO is often sold as a ‘medium risk for a medium price’, which can be tempting for businesses on a tight budget, the risk is high and the results are not sustainable. Business owners should avoid this trap at all costs.
Overall, white hat SEO services are the only kind worth your money and time because the job done will be the safest and most beneficial for your business online.
So, how do you know when a company’s pitching you cheap, black/grey hat SEO? There are a few key phrases and promises that agencies will make that should ring alarm bells:
a. Big Promises for Low Price Tags
SEO is not rocket science, but it is not as simple as you might think. It’s not just sticking a bunch of keywords and tags on a website.
Achieving long-term success with SEO takes a lot of manual work that cannot be easily accomplished on a shoestring budget. Either you settle for a very small number of keywords, or you end up paying for the work that really needs to be done.
b. No Long-Term Strategy
Cheap SEO companies will offer you short-term solutions, but this is not realistic.
SEO is a long-term strategy. It takes time to gain the rankings you deserve. If the company you are considering offers no plan past one month, they are more than likely a scam. They are either not doing their job or just looking for quick and easy money from unsuspecting customers like you.
c. No Transparency
Do not trust any SEO company that doesn’t offer you transparency into what they’re doing. It is important that you have visibility over the SEO process so that you can assess the results and make changes as needed.
The best SEO companies will offer a full audit of your site and provide explanations for any errors found. They will also provide recommendations for how to fix these errors, give an overview of how to improve rankings, and show rankings progress.
d. Inexperienced Team
One of the most important things to look for when choosing an SEO company is their expertise and experience.
Do they have a website with a portfolio of websites that they have previously optimized? Do they have testimonials from satisfied clients? Can you find any information on them at all?
An experienced SEO company won’t mind telling you who’s on their team and should be eager to tell you about their experience. If they’re not transparent, they could be hiding something.
e. Guaranteed Results
No one can guarantee a #1 spot on Google.
It is an outright impossible claim to make for an agency, as SEO is a competitive practice that depends on hundreds of signals which can change at any point in the day.
What can be guaranteed are solid and safe practices that can win better results when done properly over time.
Agencies that claim their services will guarantee a specific result in a specific timeframe is one of the biggest warning signs for cheap, black hat SEO that will hurt your business.
What About Using Negative SEO to Attack Your Competitors?
Usually, SEO is about trying to boost your own company’s search ranking. Negative SEO is when one company uses manipulative tactics to hurt a competitor’s rankings instead.
Negative SEO is gray hat SEO. A negative SEO campaign against your industry competitors is risky because the traffic attacks can be traced back to you.
Search engine algorithms can detect bad links from good links when competitors create spammy backlinks to tank your SEO and organic rankings online.
Search engine algorithms can detect bad links from good links when competitors create spammy backlinks to tank your SEO and organic rankings online. Google will penalize websites for building spammy backlinks that use anchor text to improve their ranking by matching the exact keywords.
Any mentions of negative SEO practices should be shut down immediately, the risk is simply not worth it.
3. The Long-Term Value of Affordable White Hat SEO
White hat SEO isn’t cheap, but it’s effective – and it can be affordable. When done well, SEO is the most cost-effective and reliable way to reach your target customers and understand what they are looking for when they search for businesses online.
Investing time and money into effective, white hat SEO services will benefit your online traffic, leads, and sales in the long run.
- Search is the #1 source of website traffic. Organic search is a key way people find your website and become customers, whether you sell products or services online or offline. Being highly visible on Google and Bing is money in the bank.
- SEO builds trust and credibility. SEO creates trust and credibility by providing a positive user experience that is easily discoverable on search engines. Establishing authority online through good content results in natural backlinks that boost your ranking. Online credibility takes time, working towards your goals of authority and credibility online takes time, patience, and affordable SEO services from an experienced agency.
- SEO boosts local businesses. Using SEO will improve your local engagement and traffic online by connecting users to your business based on their location. SEO professionals can do this by optimizing the businesses website content and including local citations and backlinks to guide the user to their product or service. An experienced agency can provide effective, local SEO services at an affordable price.
- SEO is quantifiable. With SEO, you can measure your progress using analytics. A competent SEO agency has people dedicated to connecting the dots and assessing the improvements made through SEO. This information can also be used to maximize ROI and ensure that your SEO remains affordable. Hiring a team that is knowledgeable about tracking analytics and SEO data is essential.
- Good SEO means a better user experience. Google is dedicated to providing a positive user experience through relevant search results. Search engine optimization also means optimizing your user experience, so people love using your website and come back for more. Optimizing your website’s user experience will also help maximize the ROI from both SEO and other digital marketing efforts.
Bottom Line: Avoid Cheap SEO Services at All Costs
Cheaping out on SEO is never the way to go. This will only cost you more money and more problems in the future that could potentially be irreversible.
We hope that you now understand the risks of cheap SEO services and the benefits to investing in white hat SEO services that put your success first.
TrafficSoda has built hundreds of successful SEO strategies for companies, like you, looking to increase traffic, leads, calls, online purchases and more. When you’re ready to jump in with a personalized plan, reach out for your free strategy proposal.