Cheap SEO: Why Inexpensive Usually Means Ineffective

The economy is down. Sales are down. And your patience is just about up.

Your business needs a pick-me-up, and it needs one fast. What could be more tempting than signing up for cheap SEO services in hopes of gaining a quick boost in rankings and sales? Sounds simple enough, and hey, it seems to be all the latest rave.

And you know what? Inexpensive SEO services just might give you the ranking improvement you’ve been looking for. But see, there’s a catch. It won’t last long. And after all is said and done, you’ll be left right back where you started, except with a lighter wallet.

What exactly is cheap SEO?

The difference between cheap SEO and what I would call real SEO goes far beyond the difference in price. The services you’ll receive are vastly different and will naturally lead to different ranking outcomes in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). Let’s start with the most obvious example:


99% (and in most cases, 100%) of cheap SEO packages are nothing more than bundles of automated software tools, working day and night in an effort to boost your site’s rank. How they manage to do this is rather interesting. Here are five of the most common ways:

  • Blog Comments
  • Forum Profile Links
  • Social Bookmarking
  • Press Release Submission
  • Article Marketing

Most people don’t know that there are software programs that perform all of these tasks with the push of a button. For anyone experienced with these tools, it’s not very hard to rack up over 100,000 links in a single day. After you’ve spent months, maybe years developing your website, Is this the kind of treatment you want to put it through?


Now, let me be the first to say that there are correct and appropriate ways to do nearly all of these things. But for the measly monthly price of $99, they’re going to be done as cheaply as possible. (Hey, you have to find a way to profit from $99.) So with that in mind, let’s take another look at these so-called “cheap SEO services”:

Automated blog commenting is otherwise known as spam.

Automated profile links are otherwise known as spam.

Automated Social Bookmarking is otherwise known as spam.

Press releases composed of 100% spun and/or duplicate content is easily detectable and has been devalued. Same goes for Article Marketing.


Links of these types sometimes give you a boost for a few days, maybe a few weeks, but they always seem to run out of steam. They are what many professionals call “churn and burn SEO.” It’s very rare that you see a site at the top of the SERPs for a competitive keyword ranking with these methods for more than several months. Depending on the keyword, several months may be all you need to recuperate your cost, which is largely why these methods still exist. But for the serious business-owner or webmaster, they’re pretty much the “junk yard” of SEO tactics.


As if all that weren’t bad enough, there’s an even greater danger in using an inexpensive SEO company. Their techniques might even hurt your rankings, sometimes even temporarily sandbox your site altogether. (The sandbox is believed by many to be a Google penalty given to mostly newer sites who build backlinks too fast and therefore, unnaturally.)

Sandbox aside, it’s a proven fact that Google does manually review sites, especially if those sites are ranking high for competitive terms. If your backlink profile is nothing but the product of automated software, you might get hit. If you have 300 sites and you don’t particularly care about any one of them, sure, it can be worth a shot. But if your site is bringing in any kind of sizeable revenue and you’ve invested tens and hundreds of hours developing it, it’s just downright stupid to settle for cheap search engine optimization.

Cheap SEO vs. Real SEO

The difference between cheap, inexpensive SEO and real SEO are threefold:

Real content

You should never, ever have to deal with spun or duplicate content. Ever. Real SEO means real content. If your SEO company claims to offer writing services or article marketing services, you should always make sure the content is unique and written specifically for you.
If you ever want to check if your site’s content is duplicate or unique, enter your site into Copyscape. It’s the world’s most trusted (and most used) plagiarism checker. If you catch your SEO company providing you with duplicate content, drop them immediately. It’s a sign that the rest of their services are just as cheap and manufactured.

Gradual Improvement

A tell-tale sign of poor quality SEO is if your site skyrockets up the SERPs overnight. In most of these cases, your site received a temporary boost from the millions of links being pointed at it, but before long you will see that site slide right back down where it came from. Real SEO takes time–weeks, months, and sometimes even years if the keyword is especially difficult. Just think of how long sites like CNN and Sleepy’s have been around just to rank for terms like “News” or “Mattresses.” For most other terms, you should expect months of gradual improvement up the search engine ranks.

Compare it to bodybuilding or dieting. The techniques with the quickest results are also typically the least desirable. Want to get ripped fast? Take steroids. Want to lose weight overnight? Don’t eat! These methods “work” quickly in the short term, but they have one major defect…

Lasting Effects

…they’re temporary. You can’t sustain low quality SEO for very long. The only SEO that will bring you effects not just this month but years down the line is legit SEO, and SEO services of that nature will tend to cost anywhere between $499 a month all the way up to $10,000/month. (Our own SEO services range from $499 to $1499 per month.)

Are Cheap SEO Packages Worth Their (Tiny) Pricetag?

This answer, again, depends on your needs. Are you looking for a short-term boost for a site you don’t particularly care about? If so, you might want to consider cheaper SEO firms. But if your website has the potential to earn you an extra $1000 or more per month, there is no replacement for the real thing.

Search for yourself. Check out what these so-called “cheap SEO” agencies are offering, and compare that to authentic SEO companies. The difference is clear. The old saying is true, especially when applied to Search Engine Optimization: you really do get what you pay for.

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