If you are reading this article, you are likely looking for cheap or affordable local SEO packages. My intention here is to provide you with the tools to make an informed decision when buying SEO on a budget.
The good news is that it is possible to find a high-quality and affordable local SEO provider, however, they are few and far between, and you have to be a good fit for lower cost SEO options.
The bad news is that when buying SEO on a budget you have to be careful. The majority of providers at this price point are hopeless. There will always be someone who will take your money, make big promises, but fail to deliver. And some providers could actually do spammy work that could damage your ability to rank.
What Counts as Affordable Local SEO?
This is tough to answer as what is affordable for a huge company is unimaginable for a smaller company. SEO budgets can be several thousands of pounds, yet I would class affordable as starting at the very low end of £100 / $150 and going up to around £500 / $750.
Truly understanding what is affordable requires more context. What can the business afford? What are the returns? Typically, organic search has a better cost per lead than paid search, but it may take time to get to the promised land. So you have to factor that in.
Are You a Good Fit?
The inspiration for this article was a blog post I read advising people to avoid affordable local SEO agencies (or cheap). I don’t 100% agree with this sentiment, hence this article. But, it is super important to understand your business SEO needs before you dive in.
To help you make the decision, the following details businesses that typically have to invest more heavily and those where a (high-quality) cheap SEO package will likely deliver the goods.
Business types that require a higher investment in SEO:
- A national business
- A national business with multiple locations
- An international business
- An e-commerce business or online store
Business types that can be a good fit for more affordable SEO practices:
- Small, local businesses
- Single locations of a multi-location business or franchise
- Traditional local business categories (plumber, driving school, dentist etc)
Ultimately, the larger the geographical area you target, the more competitive SEO becomes. It you target a country or international audience, then expect your SEO to require serious investment. Likewise, if you target a large city in a competitive industry.
If you are a local business though, then affordable local SEO is more attainable.
The local aspect is important. If you are a local business then your location in relation to the location of the person conducting the search is a primary ranking factor. Therefore, the SEO required is about helping the search engine understand what you do and where you do it. Heavier duty aspects like content-driven link building and content creation are often not needed here.
Understanding the Different Types of SEO
To know whether your business is a good fit for affordable local SEO services requires some understanding of the types of SEO. Without going into great detail, here are some fundamentals that will help.
- Technical SEO
Ensuring your site is technically well put together so a search engine can crawl and index the content is crucial. I would typically include things like using an SSL certificate to provide a secure site over HTTPS and speed optimising the website within technical SEO.
- On-Page SEO
Your site will also need to be optimised to help users and search engines understand what you do and to maximise clicks from search engines. As this is largely work conducted to your site, a skilled SEO practitioner can usually take care of the on-page SEO basics without too much trouble.
- Content Optimisation
Your content will often need to be improved for your customers and optimised for search engines. This should help not only in improving your visibility for important keywords but in the number of conversions you generate from your website (which is always the end result).
- Content Development
It may also be the case that you need to add new content. This could be new pages for specific services, locations, or portfolio pieces.
- Local SEO
Local SEO is the process of optimising your website to rank for location-specific search terms. This includes changes made to the site, creating and optimising a Google My Business listing, and work on external sites. This helps the search engines understand what you do and where your business operates.
- Building Authority & Trust
Multiple businesses compete for search engine results. And whilst there are many factors such as the optimisation of the site and local SEO, building authority also is an important factor here. Authority is typically built through building links from relevant sites and can be one of the more difficult and time-intensive elements of SEO.
Can Affordable Local SEO Really Be Good, Fast & Cheap?
Another consideration here is how long SEO takes. There is a concept known as the project management triangle that tells us that projects can’t be good, fast, and cheap. Quality will suffer. I talk about this in much more detail in a previous post but the general idea is:
- Good & Cheap – Won’t Be Fast!
- Fast & Good – Won’t Be Cheap!
- Cheap & Fast – Won’t Be Good!
So, when looking for affordable local SEO, you may need to have some patience (which is always a good philosophy with SEO).
And you really do need to be careful here. Prior to writing this article, I was speaking to a lady who had employed an SEO company to build links for her site. The service came with 3 months free (alarm bells) and then was £99 for three months. Yep, £33 per month. And they were building around 50 links per month. None of these links were of course shown to the client. And this was a site already in freefall that three months after starting (end of the trial) had their first ever two week period with no orders – in the entire 14 year history of the business.
After a quick call, we did some digging and found some of the new links. They looked like circa 1999 directory sites, and her “link” was amongst links for prostitution, escorts, drugs and just about everything you would not want a legitmate business to be listed amongst.
The company provides this service despite claiming to have a “strict white hat policy” so whilst affordable SEO is one thing, there is a whole shitheap of cheap and nasty SEO services that you want to avoid like the plague!
SEO Can Be Affordable – In The Right Situation
Your situation is key here. If you are a local business in a traditional market then there is almost certainly something an experienced SEO company can do to help – and at a realistic budget.
The key here is to find a reliable provider (like us here at Bowler Hat) and then ask for some initial feedback. Typically, this will be a quick review of your situation and marketplace and some initial pricing.
Then, the agency will typically want to perform an SEO audit. This provides a detailed overview of the current situation and marketplace. From this, a budget and approximate timescale can be provided (or at least that is the way we work here).
More budget typically equals faster results. Less budget can still work but improvements may come more slowly. Ultimately, time = money.
From almost 20 years of experience, we have helped small businesses at all price points – from £100 / $150 per month where we are slowly improving technical, on-page, and local SEO. This ranges to around £300 / $500 per month where some authority building is required in addition to the basics.
So, the takeaway here is that with some careful consideration you can find an affordable SEO provider, and cheap SEO does not always have to be nasty SEO!
Affordable Local SEO by Doing it Yourself
The option here is to do your own SEO. There is a learning curve but there is lots of good information out there. Here are a couple other blog posts that we’ve done:
I would always advise business owners to take the time to educate themselves with regards to SEO best practices. You don’t need to be an expert, but rather be an informed buyer so you can ask the right questions.
The Google Webmaster Guidelines are also essential reading:
EDITOR’S NOTE: We have multiple in-depth video sessions on local SEO available in our training section