Getting What You Pay for and the Value of SEO

Jordan Kasteler recently wrote one of the best internet marketing posts I’ve seen in a long time. Instead of the usual repetitive fluff containing bullet points, Jordan evaluates outsourcing your link building, content creation, technical SEO, and cheap web design. If you’re involved in marketing, or you manage a third party vendor at your company, it makes for some interesting reading.

The highlights for me are as follows:

Buying links is the overt way to take the cheap-and-easy route in linkbuilding (and scheming link builders abound), but it’s not the only one. As I’ve written before, link building takes time. Connections aren’t forged overnight, and anyone who promises you major results overnight is a liar.

An experienced SEO may have a well-established network of connections to start a linkbuilding campaign, but you’ll pay for those connections. A bottom-barrel hourly rate is a surefire way to indicate shortcuts (buying links) or inexperience (laughable outreach emails).

Believe it or not, inexperience can be just as dangerous as a linkbuilder who overtly cheats the search engines, since an amateur “SEO” may have no idea what he’s doing looks like link spam to the search engines.

Don’t buy your links. Don’t fall for miracle-worker pitches, and be prepared to pay a decent price for a linkbuilding campaign. It’s the only way to ensure you’ll get results—real results that won’t get your site banned.

And..

Google Panda probably needs no introduction, but I’ll give it one anyway: Panda was the major algorithm update from February 2011 that forced content farms into near-extinction. The age of cheap, shoddily-written content was over, and Google reminded us that not just any content could be king: only usable, quality (not keyword-stuffed) content could reign in the post-Panda wake.

But let’s take this a step beyond the obvious you-won’t-rank-well-with-terrible-content factor: cheap content does nothing for your business. Effective strategists use content to move people, to communicate, to grab attention, etc. Quality content compels: compels people to share, compels people to comment, compels people to buy.

As well as..

Professional SEOs are expensive. Like a lawyer or an accountant, they perform a function which most businesses need to exist but one that’s hard for most people to understand. They speak their own language, and they’ve built a reputation and results after years in the field.

If you want results, you will have to pay for them. And they will not come overnight.

When you hire an SEO (or social media marketer, linkbuilder, etc.), you are trusting them with your site and your online reputation. If you are not 100% clear on what they’re doing, you’ll have no guarantee they’re not doing something that could get your site penalized.

In short, and Jordan put it much more eloquently than this, you get what you pay for. Don’t try and take shortcuts with the online presence of your website. In doing so you could lose customers, get banned from Google, and lose the trust of the people who frequent your business.