How to Find a SEO Expert
Posted: February 25, 2013 by Alex Chan
The other day a friend called for advice on hiring a SEO company. The company put out an ad and they were overwhelmed by the number of responses. Quotes ranged from hourly work at $10-160/hr, cheap reviews starting at $20 per page, to massive campaigns priced at $40,000 over 6 months. The options available were literally all over the place and every quote offered a complete solution. The business is doing well, but taking a hit on an unproductive SEO campaign wasn't an option. That meant selecting the right candidate needed careful consideration. I would say most small businesses are in this position when they're ready to start looking to a SEO expert. Even if the risk is affordable, we invest in SEO to see growth.
Guaranteed SEO or Your Money Back
Is a lie. Anyone that offers you your money back for SEO work that they do on your website means they're either running black hat scripts that will give you a very short lived SEO boost, or plans to do absolutely nothing in the hopes that you won't ask for your money back. In addition to the overall sketchiness of hiring someone you don't know to man handle your domain, the methods they use can potentially dig your website into a pit that becomes twice as hard to crawl out of. Don't skimp on your investment. The difference between successfully making money and losing everything could just be a few hundred dollars.
How much does SEO cost?
Here's what you should look to spend on basic SEO packages:
- Straight Reports <$300
- Basic Analysis $300-500
- Full Analysis with suggestions $500-2000
These are the general prices that I encounter when looking for SEO work for my own sites. The price is subject to a number of factors such as the size of the website, an SEO consultant's experience, and the time it takes to complete the review. I've had amazing SEO reviews with a complete list of suggestions for less than $1000 so don't be fooled by companies looking for big payouts.
The SEO Subscription Payment Scam
To be fair, paying for subscription based SEO is not a scam. There are many great SEO services. The consultant you hire should not only be able to recommend the tools they use, but also be very forward about their techniques. However, it is a scam when a "large and professional" looking company with a terrific office brings you in for a $5000-20,000+ initial payment with a $1000-2000+ monthly SEO monitoring service and link building package.
In my time online, I've purchased 8 large $10,000+ SEO packages at the request of my clients to date. 7 companies had the same result:
- It starts with amazing support from "Success SEO Company's" sales department. This part is great, "Success SEO Company" has offered their in-house SEO consultant whenever you have a generic SEO related question.
- You take the dive and make the initial deposit seeing it as a worthwhile investment. Why not? The company is so responsive, it's a small price to pay for a 24 hour SEO consultant that promises to double if not triple your investment.
- Deposit confirmed. Great! Everyone feels good, you feel good about future growth, and they're laughing all the way to the bank.
- Up to a few weeks pass by with little to no word from the SEO Company. What happened to the great support? Well it's ok, we're in the review phase, and we're waiting on a fantastic SEO report from the company.
- The day has finally arrived; you receive the email in the mail titled "Congratulations! Success SEO Company has completed your review!". Unfortunately, the review makes little to no sense for someone unfamiliar with SEO. Shortly after you receive a phone call from your affiliate manager and you setup a time go over the report.
- After completing the phone call, "Success" gives you a deadline to complete a set of modifications on your website to meet the SEO requirements in their review. This part just sucks; you'd think that spending $5000, $10,000, or $20,000 would include the work on their end. Most companies not only drop the ball on this step, but they also implement the changes improperly.
- Here's where the fun ends. In the eyes of "Success SEO Company", their job is mostly done. They've done the review, sent you a massive report with complex suggestions, and they're waiting on YOU to complete the job. Each month as part of their SEO monitoring service, they'll send you screenshots of their tools which require absolutely no work on their part, then send you a link report pretending that's a link building effort. If you have any further questions, consult their details and technical review.
- Finally, we're at the end of the 3-6 month package. "Success SEO Company" has sent over dozens of reports; they have been somewhat available for questions, and briefly glanced at the changes on your website. Hopefully at this phase, we're seeing a traffic increase, if not, well, it's SEO, there's no guarantee.
Out of the 7 experiences, one company did deliver a long term SEO boost. The company was responsive all the way through and they did deliver a good service. However, the hefty price tag of maintaining SEO relations beyond the monthly "SEO monitoring" package did not turn out to be an affordable option.
The problem with a large company's method of delivering SEO is the need to maintain sales. Large companies need nice offices with a staff to convince businesses so they can be trusted with expensive projects. All of this just turns into unnecessary overhead.
How to Find a SEO Consultant
Great news! There is a much brighter side to SEO. The reason I've taken most of this post to debunk of the large SEO companies is because that's the old style of development. We live in an age where we can reach out to dozens of people at the same time. This new level of competition has brought some amazing changes to the method of finding a good SEO company, as well as the overall cost.
Why would we put all of eggs in a single basket when we can reach out to multiple baskets for a fraction of the cost? For the massive price tag of $5000-30,000, you could hire 5-30 different consultants. I guarantee you will see much greater results by hiring multiple consultants vs. one single large entity that barely has the time of day to stop and chat between each large sale.
There's another great part about finding a cheaper solution. Not only are these guys much hungrier then large company, but they need to get this job done to move on to the next. There's no subscription, monthly payment, or large initial investment to fall back on. Lower SEO bidders need to make money, and they'll get your work done in a day or two so they can move on to the next task.
When it's all said and done, the best SEO consultant is you. No one else will understand your product as well as you. A few basic skills like doing your own keyword research or content marketing can greatly improve the chances of securing better rankings. Check out our Beginner's Guide to SEO for more information on setting up your own SEO campaign.