I wonder why so many businesses still think they can get quality SEO services by paying minimal costs. SEO is a skilled job, like anything it's a discipline where a little bit of knowledge is dangerous.
Some companies want SEO so they get a bunch of quotes, then they go for the lowest quote. They've got a huge site and a fair bit of competition. They want to rank nice and high in Google for the keywords that will bring them loads more sales and somehow no alarms go off in their heads when they get a quote which is 50% cheaper than what it should be.
These companies think "Wow, Bargain!" But they might as well just burn that money because they're not going to get anything for it.
That 50% less in costs means something. If it was a legitimate SEO company then the 50% wouldn't be enough to cover their costs, they'd have to work at a loss to provide the service at that price.
- They're SEO Scammers. They're just going to take your money and do nothing at all except laugh at you when you can't contact them again. If you can contact them again it's because they realise they can get more money out of you before they clear off.
- They're SEO Outsourcers. They're outsourcing all of the work; paying some awful, way behind the times SEO's who use cheap tactics with no longevity in a country where people will work for a fraction of the costs and will more likely get your site penalized than do anything of worth for you. You know the people they outsource to, it's the guys who spam email you every day with guarantees of getting you to number one on Google for "ipod" for 15 rupees per month. *Note: Have you noticed every one of these companies always have 50+ experienced staff and multiple clients in the UK, USA and Australia.
- They're SEO Pay-Per-Clickers. They either don't differentiate between SEO and PPC or they do but they don't care because they'll get paid anyway. These are the people that tell you they do SEO but actually, they just do PPC and rely on the naivety of others not to tell the difference (then they get you "ranked" via sponsored listings for long obscure keywords that nobody searches).
- They're SEO Half-a-Jobbers. They take the job knowing full well you'll get nowhere near the amount of time or resources needed to get results that will get you anywhere. You're paying for a package that basically takes about a day to complete plus some submissions to worthless directories and search engines nobody has ever heard of… oh and they'll submit a sitemap for you. You won't actually rank for anything, except your company name which you would have done anyway (that won't stop them from trying to take the credit for it though).
- They're SEO Amateurs. These are by far the most common. In fact they are the majority of companies offering SEO services. Mostly it's not their fault; they have no idea that what they know is only a fraction of what they need to know. These are people who are often web designers that up until recently stuck to web design and then decided to look into SEO to see what all the fuss is about. They read a book or two and a couple of blogs, then they start offering SEO as a service, clueless about the fact that 90% of what actually works in SEO cannot be found in those books or blogs (mainly because they all cover just the theory side of the very basics). The problem is these books all make out that once you've read them, that's it you're an expert now. No mention of the fact that there is so, so much more to it than that and it actually starts getting quite technical and complicated from there on. Of the millions of books on SEO out there I could probably count on just one hand the few that contain the scary, complex sounding words (which actually mean something quite simple) of: Cannibalization, Canonicalization, Pagination and phrases like Block Level Analysis, Class C Subnets and Latent Semantic Indexing. See that all sounds really harsh and isn't, it's just a little past the basics… it's "intermediate" shall we say. Now, how many SEO's out there know what they mean despite the words not being as complicated as they sound? If they don't know what those mean then they're not the experts they think they are, they're amateurs and they give the SEO industry a bad name by offering services they know so little about.
So next time your company gets offered SEO services at a price that seems too good to be true, or you see ads like the examples I've used on this page (They're real too, screen-grabbed off the SERP's) Just remember… it is too good to be true! *Note: Even if one of those ads is talking about PPC, it’s still ridiculous!
A funny related post from Hoboweb (albeit from back in 2009 but still, shows things haven't changed in the last couple of years).