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SEO | 5 min read

Looking For An Affordable SEO Agency? 8 Factors To Consider Before Taking The Plunge

23 December 2019 Written by Alexander Costello

Looking For An Affordable SEO Agency? 8 Factors To Consider Before Taking The Plunge

As a business owner in Manchester looking to work with an affordable SEO specialist, you probably have two criteria:

 

On the one hand, you don’t want to get ripped off and pay over the odds for SEO services. On the other hand, you’re worried that paying too little will get you half-rate services and poor results.

 

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when hunting for affordable SEO services:

 

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Finding high quality, affordable SEO in Manchester and beyond is about striking a balance between cost, what’s delivered, and the return on investment.

 

Here are 8 factors to weigh up.

 

Are your expectations realistic?

SEO takes time.

 

Sometimes businesses baulk at the costs quoted by SEO agencies they’re speaking to. But SEO is an ongoing investment. You should prepare to spend for at least six months, most likely more.

 

Cheap SEO services pop up to tempt business owners who are wary of spending big. Their goal is to undercut their “expensive” competitors and to hoover up business from companies who are wary of shelling out too much cash.

 

Although you can find SEO practitioners with double-figure monthly costs on Fiverr, three or four figures are more realistic.

 

Are there any red flags?

Certain things should put you off regardless of the price.

 

Top of this list is unrealistic, outdated claims like “we’ll get you to number 1 for all your keywords in 2 weeks.”

 

First off, rankings vary depending on the location, search history, and demographic or the person searching. There is no way to guarantee top spot across the board, and anyone claiming they can is mistaken.

 

Secondly, good SEO takes time. Take any claim of immediate results with a large grain of salt.

 

Are prices listed on their website?

If not, some people would tell you to move on. Our advice is slightly different.

While not showing prices may make it look like an agency has something to hide, it’s actually fairly common practice.

 

A business will often court several SEO agencies during the pitching process. Each presents their credentials and planned strategies, and prices are discussed.

 

Effective SEO campaigns rely on a solid understanding of the needs of your business, and eventual pricing will arise from conversation and negotiation. Don’t be put off if prices aren’t visible immediately.

 

Does their site rank?

If you whack “SEO services Manchester” into Google, who ranks first?

 

Many commentators suggest that you should only talk to the names who regularly appear in the top spots. Their logic is that if an agency can’t even rank their own site for local terms, how are they going to rank yours?

But as the wise Rand Fishkin says, this is not necessarily “a great filter” on their quality.

 

And here’s why:

 

Ranking for local terms is the result of a concerted effort, often undertaken if this is deemed a vital source of business. If an agency finds itself generating enough work through referrals and word-of-mouth, they may not consider ranking locally a priority.

 

So if an agency you like the look of doesn’t rank high for “affordable SEO in Manchester” or similar, weigh that up against the other factors in this list before dismissing them outright.

 

Which packages and services are on offer?

SEO is a broad net, and no two campaigns will be identical.

 

It’s a modular discipline, too. Different campaign objectives require bespoke combinations and ratios of techniques. While some packages are one-size-fits-all, the most effective campaigns are tailored to individual businesses.

 

Jumping briefly back to our red flags, anything along the lines of “Rank #1 for 10 terms for £1000” should make you wary.

 

As should any agency who offer a full strategy right off the mark, without taking any steps to understand your business or its objectives.

 

A fixed price for a technical audit, however, is less suspicious.

 

If an agency is reluctant to give information on the work they plan to carry out or to explain exactly what you’ll be paying for, proceed with caution.

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What sort of returns can you expect?

Return on investment (ROI) is more important than the initial outlay.

 

Agencies should sing from the rooftops about the great results they’ve achieved for their clients. While exact revenue figures may not be available, you can glean a lot from conversion rates, year-on-year revenue graphs.

 

A healthy ROI makes any amount of SEO spend more palatable. It also marks the difference between cheap SEO services and affordable ones.

 

Who will be working on your campaign?

More staff equate to higher costs, but also more and greater expertise.

 

If you get a quote for a package including SEO, CRO, content creation, social media management, email list management, display ads, and link building, take a step back before signing up.

 

Is this work allocated out amongst a team of individuals with relevant expertise and experience? Or is one over-ambitious Jack-of-all-Trades taking everything on board?

 

If the latter, be wary. While the work may be cheaper, it will almost certainly suffer from a lack of specialisation.

 

How does their feedback look?

The gold standard of an agency’s effectiveness is its customer feedback.

 

You should look on and off of their website for this. It’s easy to cherry-pick the good bits when building a testimonials page. While glorifying success is a necessary part of managing the reputation of a business, it’s essential to dig deeper and find out what the raw feedback looks like.

 

Take a look at Trustpilot, Google Reviews, or any other review platform. Do former customers have good things to say about the agency you’re looking at?

 

Social proof lets you glean information on the other points in this list. If you’re weighing up whether an agency is affordable or just cheap, keep a careful eye out for comments about cost, value for money, and so on.

 

Not price, value

If you’re a business in or around Manchester looking for affordable local SEO services, you need look no further than Digital Media Stream.

 

We are an integrated B2B digital marketing agency and HubSpot Platinum Partner agency. We work with growth-oriented companies to deliver ongoing success and ROI.

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