So, you want to hire a great Search Engine Optimization (SEO) company for your small business – and you don’t know how.

With so many options, it’s difficult to know which one to choose – especially if, you yourself are not an SEO expert.

As a small business owner, you’re probably working with a small budget so you’d want something affordable.

Luckily, you’ve found this guide which exposes the potential pitfalls of the different types of SEO agencies. At the end of this, you’ll know what good looks like when choosing a reliable and affordable SEO company for your business.

The Small and Cheap Options

Pitfall #1: Small SEO agencies often employ novice SEOs.

Small agencies charge their clients little money, hence can only offer their staff a small salary, which will essentially attract people with little to no experience.

These novices are just beginning their SEO career and will eventually move on to larger agencies once they’ve gained more experience.

Of course, this does not apply to all small agencies, which brings us to the other definition of a ‘small’ agency – the One Man Band.

This is a small agency run by one man. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across one run by somebody with an extensive background in SEO. But, in the long run, one man can only handle so much work before they need to hire someone else, someone affordable…someone just beginning their SEO career…you get the gist now.

Pitfall #2: Coming across a self-proclaimed SEO expert who learned everything he knows from YouTube.

This seems like an avoidable issue but it’s super common these days with countless YouTubers promising that with their online Udemy courses and just a small payment fee, anyone can become an SEO ‘expert’ in a few days.

Young, aspiring SEO specialists are buying into this promise by the thousands. The net result is that the world is now full of SEO “experts” who acquired all their experiences from a bunch of online videos.

Besides, do you really want someone with no real-life SEO experience working on your website?

What’s worse is that these video SEO training programmes tend to peddle the darker, illegal side of SEO in terms of the approach that they teach. There are certain things Google does not want you doing. If your SEO consultant does these things on your website, they put your site at risk of punishment from Google. That’s not something you want to contend with.

Pitfall #3: Having your work delegated to foreign freelancers.

Small SEO agencies tend to counter their small manpower by outsourcing work, more often than not, to low-charging freelancers in foreign countries.

By and large the output quality is sub-optimal. This tends to be due to a lack of skills and dedication, as well as language barriers.

In most cases, cheap SEO companies are not a wise investment – they can result in money wastage due to any combination of inexperienced and/or outsourced staff, with a real possibility of risky SEO tactics being used on your website.

The bottom line is, if you want a great SEO service, make sure you’re dealing with experts who have dedicated at least five years of their life to the craft, working on a variety of brands and business types.

Finding such a service is difficult.

So, should you just dig deeper into your pockets and scrape together the funds for a more expensive mid-tier agency? Will this mean certain success?

The Big and Expensive Option

These days, you’ll be hard pressed to find any mid-sized SEO agencies accepting clients for less than a thousand bucks. Mostly because bigger clients are simply more profitable for them.

But what if you can just scrape past the minimum monthly threshold to be accepted as a client? In the interest of profits, these agencies won’t be giving you the same amount of time and quality of services. Here’s why:

Pitfall #1: If they’re understaffed, you won’t be prioritised.

Even if they accept your business, your SEO account will be small fry to them. Very low priority in the pecking order.

Which clients do you think will get neglected when the agency becomes understaffed for any reason? The small ones of course…yes, that means yours!

And understaffed agencies are normal!

This is because great SEO staff are hard to find, particularly if the agency is not located in a major city.

Pitfall #2: Competition with bigger clients means you’re competing for quality.

Then there’s cost efficiency. The biggest expenditure that any SEO agency has is staff salary. As such, SEO agency directors are inclined to stretch existing staff for as long as possible before committing to hiring new staff. #AgencyLife.

What do you think happens when a new, big, juicy client asks the agency to pitch for their business, or even offers to sign a big, juicy deal that requires lots of man power? You guessed it. Staff shortage.

This means some smaller clients will get neglected. Yes, that could mean you!

And even when your website is being served the promised hours, what level of skill will you get? Do you really think they will put their brightest talent working on your website?

It’s much more likely that you’ll be assigned an aspiring junior executive and your website will simply be treated as an SEO sandbox where the junior can improve on their basic SEO skills through trial and error, and try to prove their worth to their line manager.

In an ideal world, every junior SEO in a bigger agency should be nurtured and all his/her work checked and corrected by an experienced senior.

Unfortunately, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

These junior SEO staff are hired as a cheap alternative to highly experienced staff, not an addition. They are thrown in the deep end with smaller clients. Your account determines whether they sink or swim within the agency. And ironically, their success is entwined with yours.

Of course, you might get lucky. It’s always possible that your account might be given to an SEO manager with more than a few years’ experience, and it’s possible that the SEO agency will still prioritize you when things are busy. Just be sure to carefully vet the agency and your dedicated account manager prior to signing an agreement.

Still, there’s one other noteworthy reason why a bigger SEO agency may not be the best solution for your small business – and that is the agency’s service model.

Pitfall #3: A service model designed for bigger clients is not efficient for small clients.

Let’s look at a scenario. Imagine your budget is 1000 GBP (or equivalent of whatever your local currency is) per month. At the very most, this would equate to about ten hours of work per month if you hired a mid-tier agency. So that means you’ll get a day and a half of work each month. A DAY AND A HALF – it’s simply not enough time to make an impact on your business.

This is because the agency’s service model is designed for bigger clients – this includes tasks like creating monthly reports, phone calls, emails and meetings, account management and internal meetings about your business, bespoke strategies, various investigations, audits and analysis’…the list is an endless amount of stuff that takes up alot of time with no results.

All these things add value for bigger clients with ten times your budget. But not one of these things in itself will actually help your website gain more visibility in Google.

Bigger agencies virtually never have two separate service models. So small clients get roughly the same service model as the big clients.

This is not cost effective for small clients with small budgets, because the bulk of the budget is spent on hours of work that does not move the needle.

The service model is so important. If we compare SEO agencies to cars, the bigger expensive agencies are like Mercedes. A lot of the cost is attributed to the luxury and convenience features. A small budget spent on a mid-tier agency is like buying half of a Mercedes – it won’t get you anywhere.

If you want to get from A to B on a small budget, you need to buy a full car but a cheaper, more efficient one. One that’s designed specifically for people on a budget.

Now, you’ve read this far and you’re wondering what is the best solution for small business SEO? How can small businesses get an SEO company that offers affordability, expertise, efficiency and quality?

We’d love to give you a special formula or a checklist of questions to ask, but up until recently, there wasn’t one. It didn’t exist. But now there is:

The Big Cheap Option

The big cheap option refers to any medium to large SEO agency that specialises in helping small businesses exclusively, and whose service model is engineered specially for budget efficiency.

From its inception, Spark was designed for small businesses. We don’t work with big clients and never will – small business will always be our number one priority.

If you want an affordable SEO agency that will deliver, choose Spark. That’s the simple answer.

Spark’s core mission is to make blue-chip quality SEO results attainable to small businesses, and for a fraction of the cost that a big company would pay for the same results.

Spark achieves this by cutting out all the bloat. No bells and whistles. Just meaningful SEO work that delivers the results you want. We’re simply affordable, efficient and well-engineered.

Spark’s ultra-efficient service model heavily utilises online technology and streamlined workflows to reduce traditionally time-hungry processes, so more time can be spent making a real difference.

We don’t cut costs on hiring great staff. Having highly experienced staff is fundamental to our ability to provide excellent SEO. All our SEO consultants must have at least five years’ experience before we even hire them

If you want to learn more about us visit our home page: Spark SEO.

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