When it comes to making your business grow, you may think that any way to save money is a great way to get ahead. However, sometimes the ways you save money can end up costing you more in the end.

In terms of SEO, like most other things in life, you get what you pay for. That doesn’t mean that the most expensive SEO is the best or that you should shop around or do price comparisons. You should always try to get the best value possible. Unfortunately, there are some SEO companies that offer no value at all. These companies prey upon uninformed business owners who are easily swayed by “guarantees” of lots of results for a cheap price. If you really care about your business, you won’t fall for these “get rich quick” SEO schemes.

It’s not always easy to spot an SEO scheme, but here are some general rules:

1. The SEO company contacts you when you haven’t requested any information. The email is very generic and offers you great SEO. It might even say something about how they saw that your site wasn’t ranking very high for the important keywords. However, they won’t talk about any of the specific keywords you would want to rank for.

2. The SEO company is offering services for much cheaper than everyone else. If you call 5 SEO companies, you can usually just throw out the least expensive one. There is probably a reason they are the least expensive. If they are an American company and they are offering super cheap services, then they probably aren’t going to use very reliable techniques. They might not even do anything for your website other than the good old “submitting your site to millions of search engines” trick. Don’t pay for that, even if they are offering it for just $89. All they are doing is taking $89 away from you. $300 is the rock bottom monthly price you should ever expect to pay. $500 is a better estimate for a lot of small businesses, but it might not be enough depending on your market.

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3. The SEO company is secretive about their location. Chances are, if they won’t tell you where they are located (or if they only communicate through email), then they are not a U.S.-based company. Why does that matter? For one, if you hire a non-U.S. company, then communication will be difficult. There may be language barriers to overcome, and there might also be the issue that you are asleep when they are awake and vice versa. Aside from that, overseas companies are notorious for taking advantage of you.

If you end up going with one of these cheap SEO companies, you might pay for it in the end. Chances are, you won’t see any improvement in your rankings, which means you will just be throwing money away. There’s a very outside chance that it will work, but why risk your money?

If you do get the rankings for the cheap price, chances are that those rankings won’t last long. You may shoot up to the top within a few weeks (although with recent Google updates, this is less likely to happen). Then, a few weeks later, you will find your site has been hit hard with a manual penalty. You may even be de-indexed for using these dishonest methods. If this happens, you will lose all of your search traffic and may not get it back for a long time.

Don’t risk your business with cheap SEO. Do your research and find a company that will give you a good value and meet your business needs. You won’t have to break the budget, and you will see a return on the investment.

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