I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you have someone taking care of your SEO at less than $500/month, you are likely not getting value.  In fact, in many cases, you are getting ripped off.  The typical price of an effective SEO plan starts at $500/month. For less than that, you are likely just getting hooked up to some tools, getting some sort of generic support, or sadly, in many cases getting nothing at all. This is not to say that if you know what you are doing and how to help yourself, or are in a very non-competitive market, you can’t make progress for less than that.  I have worked in more of a guiding or consulting role for companies that do a lot of work in house for less, but when that is the case, you need to be working on your own to move the dial.

Common Misunderstandings with SEO and Business Owners

A few common SEO misunderstandings that I see over and over in the small business world.

  • SEO is a one-time thing: “We had our site SEO’d with the redesign” is something I often hear. Often web designers will sell an SEO piece as part of the redesign. Many don’t really do anything. They just use the term because people ask about SEO and many basic pieces of SEO take care of themselves with a redesign. Adding meta tags to the site is often sold as having your SEO done.  This is a part of it, but just a small part. Unfortunately, I see many companies that paid some fee for ongoing SEO and that is all that is really done. And it is often done just once at the beginning of the project.
  • SEO is taken care of by a plugin or tool: Tools are extremely helpful and always getting better to help put SEO strategies into play. There are a lot of low-cost subscription tools that will report how you are doing with SEO, guide you with your metatags, or even offer metrics on how well your content is written to target keywords, but these are all generic. It is better to have this info than to not, but if you don’t know how to apply it, you aren’t getting much out of it.  A hammer is a great tool, but if you don’t know how to use it, it is just a piece of junk sitting in your garage.
  • AI does my SEO: Oh no.  If you are relying totally on AI for your content, you are going to be in for a bitter disappointment down the road, if not already. Again, though SEO can be helpful at getting you started with content, it generally just mushes together what everyone else is saying.  Standing out from the competition would be the complete opposite of that.  Showing you are an authority and know what you are doing means adding more. AI can be a start, but it is definitely not the finish.

SEO is an ongoing effort to mix the Google algorithm, your own resources and knowledge, and the competitive landscape. To do it right you need to be knowledgeable and flexible. It is an industry with constant change, but still with core principles.  Learning the fundamentals can get you a long way, but it takes work to know which factors move the dial and invest in the resources that help you succeed. That may be building relationships for links, helping with great and helpful content, or monitoring technical issues and improving site design or UX. All of these things, and others, are part of the puzzle. One of the greatest values to bring to the table is knowing which things to focus on.

There can be situations where spending less can be helpful, but from my nearly 20 years of experience, if you are one of those businesses paying a few hundred dollars for monthly SEO services, chances are you aren’t getting much in return. Sadly, many “SEO” companies try to take advantage of businesses wanting to check the SEO box, and offer low cost packages so you feel like you are addressing SEO. From my experience, these packages do little to nothing to actually help you succeed.  Spend a bit more, but make sure you get a report every month that tells you what is being done for you. Not just a report of your traffic. Traffic is pointless without context.