13th May, 2013

There can be no doubt that deals offered by many companies outside the UK look very attractive to companies trying to outsource their SEO on a tight budget, mainly due to massively reduced costs of course. Many seemingly great deals can be found all over the web but what exactly can they do for such a low budget, and will you get an equivalent service to what you would get using a company right here on your doorstep?

Firstly let’s take a step back. How much time does someone need to provide effective SEO services?

There are many aspects of good quality SEO but the fundamentals are:

  • Checking Site Health and on-page SEO
  • Keyword and traffic research (including competitors)
  • Seeking quality referencing (link building)

So at the most basic level these should be services included in any package offered.

Checking Site Health and on-page SEO

online website health

There are literally hundreds of elements to look at in terms of site health. Most of which could take hours for someone to grasp, but let’s just say you were going to check one or two elements of a site each month and concentrate on getting the on-page (headings, titles, meta tags, etc.) sorted for one of your chosen keywords. So, let’s also say you’re looking through the site to find duplicate page titles and missing ‘alt’ text for images. Depending on the size of the site and the tools you have available this might take you 1-2 hours.

After that you’d be looking to straighten out the on-page either through a CMS or via a little development work, this may take you another 1-2 hours. By any account that’s about 4 hours work, if you know what you’re doing, i.e. the workings of the CMS (Content Management System) and that you have the tools needed at your disposal.

Total time per month: 4 hours (min)

Keyword and traffic research

wesite traffic

While most companies will give you a list of recommended keywords based on search volumes alone, one exercise that should be performed is to see what new keywords a site is achieving traffic for on a regular basis. This can be done in a number of ways but if you were to simply use Google Analytics on the site you may take an hour or so putting together a list of these and analysing if they have potential to really convert or even continue to generate more traffic if your ranking was slightly higher. Also you may feel Google is returning the ‘wrong’ page for some of these and amendments might need to be made. Then you should be looking to see what your competitors are up to, especially if your site’s main product or service is seasonal. On this one, you could get lost for hours but to do a decent job each month you’re looking at around 4 hours work.

Total time per month: 4 hours (min)

Seeking quality referencing (link building)

seo link building

Often this part of an SEO company’s service that is shrouded in secrecy, but in order for it to have any impact on your site quality, the links need to come from good sources and have some focus.  In the past tactics have ranged from ‘just get as many as you can’  to ‘build your own network’. If a company was to go about just doing a few decent manual directory submissions and high quality blog comments this could take up to an hour to even submit to or post on a site, and depending on their policies may not even be accepted. To do enough to cover a small number of keywords (six for example) you could be looking at 6-8 hours work, most of which is not permanent or guaranteed.

Total time per month:  8 hours (min)

To answer the question then, even if you were to offer the most basic of service you’re looking at twelve hours work, or one and a half days a month.

So what else is there I should be mindful of?

headache SEO Services

At this point it is important to remember that we are giving the benefit of the doubt and assuming all of the work being done is correct and things like links, are only being put on credible sites. In the past I’ve seen many links put on either sites of a different language or sites of no relevance whatsoever. Up to and including pornographic sites. As well as not helping with the target site’s credibility, often this kind of activity has a negative affect. Especially after Google’s Penguin update (Spammy link filter in simple terms).

Any credible professional that has the knowledge and tools available to truly achieve all that is set out above would be charging a decent hourly rate. I’ll let you work out the exact figures yourself, as there are so many different pricings out there. However, I don’t think it takes much thought to realise that even a basic SEO service should be performed by a professional.

Let’s step things up a notch, add in extras like content and social media etc. and you can quickly see that doing a good job of SEO can and does take extensive planning and time.

The temptation of course is for a company to offer services at a massively reduced rate and then outsource certain elements to others, or even automated systems. Google, and other search engines for that matter, will often reward what they know takes time and effort as opposed to what can be automated. It’s a common trend we see that low quality blogs are spammed by hundreds of ‘automatic’ posts, mostly written with poor language skills, just to include a link to a particular site. Again, I refer to Google’s recent ‘Penguin’ update and the fact they are wise to it. This activity WILL do much more harm than good.

To put a clear and concise point on it, cheap SEO is non-effective and can even be harmful to your site. It is something which can take months to recover from, even if you know what you’re doing. Cheap SEO from services outside the UK simply means a double whammy. There is no telling what you may get, or how much harm it could do.

The real question

So, we know it takes time and a good plan. We know you can’t cut corners and we know you need a good level of expertise to do things correctly. But, are there any reasons why someone outside the UK might not be able to fulfill this criteria?

No, is the short answer, but expect to pay exactly the same rate for good SEO anywhere. With that in mind I think most people would be happier to have a company under UK law to deal with, rather than someone that can vanish as quickly as they appeared with their tempting offer.

To answer my first question;

Will you get the same SEO service for a much lower budget?

No, and if someone does claim to be able to offer it, alarm bells should be ringing.

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