Everyone likes to bargain shop. We don't like paying "full price" for anything. When we do, and find out later we could have gotten it cheaper somewhere else, it really burns us.

I'm no different. But one of the things I've realized over the years is that although I can get the "same thing" for less, rarely is it the "same thing." I'm usually getting a whole lot less in value/product/return in exchange for a little less in cost/price.

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Your cousin might tell you he can manage your business, but is he capable? Your best friend might be able to unclog a sink, but can he remodel your bathroom? Your webmaster might offer "SEO services" but do they really have the education and skills to bring you success?

Every once in a while we come across a Yeah, Butter who tells us that we are too expensive. Usually they are looking at a number of proposals all which supposedly to do the same thing we do, albeit for less money.

But do we all really do the same thing? That's the million dollar question.

Comparing on Price Alone Only Works for DVDs

If you want to shop on price alone, go buy a DVD. I mean, you're getting the same thing regardless of where you buy it. Unless you're buying the special edition, director's cut, extended version or the Blu-ray with DVD and digital combo. Oh crap, I think I just blew my own point!

Get what I'm saying? Here's another analogy: A Ford Mustang, Toyota Yaris and Jeep Cherokee are all vehicles that we use for the same standard reasons (to get us to the grocery store, the movies, church, school, etc.) but no one would really try to compare them to each other. Yes, price is always a factor when shopping for a car, but more important than the price itself is what you get for the price.

This is where many who are shopping for web marketing services go wrong. They shop based on price alone, not on benefits, value, service, deliverables, or the quality and history of the company providing the service.

You can get "SEO" for as little as a couple hundred dollars per month, but I'll bet my mother-in-law that it's not the same SEO strategy that runs a couple thousand a month. And yes, I do love my mother-in-law; I'm that confident I won't lose.

What's the difference?

Obviously, the cost is a big difference. But you also have to consider the performance level, which is probably similar to the performance differences between a Yaris and a Mustang. Or the difference between either of those and a Jeep's ability to climb the side of a mountain!

For a couple hundred per month you might get your meta tags edited and some search engine submissions. Not the makings of a truly successful web marketing campaign.

But what about the difference of a $2K and $5K per month campaign? Hard to say, but you have to look at more than just the services being offered. What is the value of those services? There is a big difference between someone getting you 50 links and 500 links. And it might not be what you think! The good companies are charging more for 50 links than the others charge for 500. That's because it's easy to get 500 links. It's not so easy to get 50 quality links.

Same goes for other services. Anyone can edit title and meta tags, but can they write tags that get rankings and clicks from the search engine results

Anyone can add keywords into your page content, but do they know which keywords are the best to use, how to group keywords for effective on-page targeting and integrate them in a way that adds, not detracts, from the sales message?

Anyone can look at analytics, but can they decipher the data to produce actionable recommendations for improving your site's performance?

I know, I'm wearing out the italics button as I write this post, but I want to make sure you're getting it. Quality SEO is important.

Good SEO Doesn't Grow on Trees

Sometimes you can't tell the difference between what two SEO companies are offering by looking at a proposal alone. But you usually will want to know more about the company you're hiring. The price might be a good indicator of value--those doing SEO on the cheap are usually doing cheap SEO--but it certainly doesn't tell the whole picture.  You have to look deeper at the specific offerings and understand what value each brings to the success of the campaign. Only then can you begin to determine which service is going to bring you greater ROI.

We all know that if you want a cheaper car, buy a Yaris. If you want a rugged off-road vehicle, a Jeep would probably be a better choice. If you want performance on the highway choose the Mustang. If you want gas savings, buy a hybrid, or better yet, an all-electric vehicle. However most don't know which SEO company is the Yaris, Mustang, Jeep, or hybrid just by looking at the price tag on the proposal.

That means you might have to check under the hood a bit. If you don't, you can always "yeah, but" your way into a Yaris, but you'll be severely disappointed when you get it out on the road (or off the road) and find that it doesn't deliver the performance you expected.

SEO isn't cheap, and it doesn't grow on trees. You can't just pick out a winning online marketing campaign at the discount store. The success of your business is at stake. Don't yeah, but yourself into cheap SEO--look at the ROI and think smart, not cheap.

April 24, 2014

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


Price is rarely a sign of quality when service, substance and style are involved. Everyone knows someone who can do cheap SEO. And you'll get cheap SEO. As a customer, you need to be educated enough to ask the right questions, do some research and understand your own needs.

Thanks for the great article. Hopefully you've saved some people from extreme headaches.

SEO as an industry suffers from the low cost of entry for new providers, meaning that there is no barrier to entry. Anyone can set up and say 'I'm an SEO expert' having read a few articles on the internet, which are probably horrifically out of date due to Google's constant changes. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

Potential clients need to look for SEO firms who can show them a track record of achieving results, not just in rankings but in providing additional business to companies.

Stoney, your points of this article is worth reading. From my personal experience, I can tell you that it is really hard to get traffic even if you are paying more. No doubt, optimizing a site is a good thing to do. But SEO is only one of the important things. The Internet and its users are always changing. Their interests and interactions are changing. This is why Google use more than 200 parameters to filter search results. In my opinion, even if someone cannot spend much on SEO because of budget or any other limitation, she should try to get traffic from social media and other platforms. If Google finds people are regularly sharing your content across the social media, it will place your pages on the first page results.

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