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What is Affordable SEO?

Newcomers to search engine optimization (SEO) could be forgiven for assuming most SEO solutions look somewhat alike. But, this simply isn’t true — not by a long shot.

In reality, SEO agencies and services can run the gamut. But for our purposes today, we’re going to try and consolidate your options into 3 broad types of SEO companies:

  • Affordable SEO
  • Custom solutions
  • Cheap SEO

Depending on your company size and needs, your needs will be somewhat unique. And of course, each approach to search engine optimizations has its own advantages and disadvantages.

So it should go without saying that taking the time to determine what type of SEO agency will be right for you, is time well spent.

So let’s go over the key similarities and differences, with a goal of helping you decide which will be best for your business needs.

Affordable SEO Services

You will probably agree, that any SEO service that aims to carefully balance investment and return should qualify as an “affordable option.”

But more specifically, affordable has to mean that the price-point isn’t prohibitive for the majority of interested parties.

Affordable SEO options can certainly improve organic search visibility for all but the most competitive niches. But given that they won’t put a huge strain on your budget, they by definition can’t be the most involved and elaborate partnerships.

A partnership or arrangement with an affordable SEO company can last weeks, a month, or a year. It’s really up to your needs, wants and of course, your budget.


Affordable SEO packages typically include a basic site audit of some kind. The output of which will include recommendations on how to improve some on-page SEO factors.

On-page optimization is arguably the easiest way to rank websites for search engines like Google.

The good news is: search engines refer to site elements that you have almost complete control over. Page titles, URLs, headings, metadata, content, and internal linking are all a part of on-page SEO.

Depending on the particular agency, you’ll likely receive either recommendations for on-page updates and improvements, of they may offer to make many on-page optimizations for you (with your permission of course).

Creating blog posts, researching keywords to focus on, and media content may also be a part of their services.

Additionally, you’ll likely be able to expect some off-page SEO efforts, including link-building and potentially outreach.

That said, high-end link-building is a difficult and expensive endeavor these days, and affordable solutions won’t be able to get your site linked from Forbes or other major outlets like that.

Affordable SEO Rates

Affordable SEO rates can fluctuate from one company to another. But it typically costs anywhere between $300 and $1,000 a month.

Pros and Cons


  • Provision of a solid SEO strategy to follow.
  • Team of experts working to optimize your site and search presence.
  • Help with site management.
  • Available for consultation when needed.


  • Occasionally limited customization and involvement.
  • General lack of particularly specialized strategies (like online reputation management or social media monitoring).

Who Is It Good For?

Affordable SEO is a great pick for small to mid-size businesses that take their online presence seriously, but don’t have a large digital marketing budget to work with.

If you’re looking to increase your traffic, but don’t have the resources for a customized approach, affordable search engine optimization is likely your best bet.

It’s straight forward, and cost-effective. What’s not to like?

Our own affordable SEO service is our industry-rattling “if you don’t rank, you don’t pay” option. Dynamic pricing means rates are always affordable.

Custom SEO Services (Bespoke/White-Glove)

A fully custom SEO service provider will work with you to determine how to improve your site for better visibility in your specific digital niche.

Unlike affordable SEO companies, custom SEO strategies will take into consideration your industry, specific competitors, and business goals.

As such, most of the services offered by these search optimization companies will go above and beyond what you’d expect from competitors in the “affordable” category.

That being said, for businesses that have the budget, no other approach will compare when it comes to magnitude of results.


Custom SEO retainers will generally always include extensive on-page and off-page SEO efforts.

You can also expect to receive technical SEO support on a range of issues, including:

  • Optimization of your robots.txt
  • Verification of your Google Search Console
  • Fixes for crawl errors
  • Updates to your sitemap

The great news is, custom SEO agencies will often even take ownership of helping make your site’s key pages mobile-responsive, a must in 2021 and beyond.

Ecommerce stores in particular may favor custom solutions, as rules and regulations regarding the products you sell may vary.

Custom search solutions will generally include help with lead nurturing through advice on email marketing and other lead-capture strategies.

Last but not least, you can expect in-depth SEO reports on a regular basis if you’re paying top dollar for a fully bespoke SEO solution.


A custom SEO solution will generally cost at least $1,500 a month.

Pros and Cons


  • Dedicated account manager.
  • Development of a unique plan and approach that’s specifically tailored to meet your goals.
  • Additional areas of guidance, including online reputation management, social media marketing, and email marketing.


  • The price tag puts these types or services out of reach for most small (and some midsize) businesses.

Who Is It For?

Custom SEO is probably the right fit for most midsize and large-scale businesses. The more competitive your vertical, the more likely it is you’ll need to invest in a comprehensive custom solution.

We offer custom marketing solutions that focus heavily on search. To learn more or request a free consultation, click here.

Cheap SEO Services

Buyer beware of cheap SEO services. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”

That’s not to say that there aren’t certain applications of cheap SEO where it may be the only option for a micro business or new business entity. But these instances are few and far between.

The only good reason to pick a cheap SEO service, is that you don’t have enough money for something better. And even then, it’s best to be cautious.

I say that because in many cases, cheap or careless SEO can actually do quite a bit of harm! And those mistakes can be costly to fix later down the road.


Most solutions offered by cheap SEO services are cookie-cutter programs with very little effort from the provisioner.

Meaning you’ll likely get the exact same approach that businesses in a completely different business did.

These options are prolific on Fiverr, and I’d caution business owners from going down this road in general. Expectations are low, and the risk can actually be quite high.

For every decent option you might be able to dig up, there are 10 unscrupulous practitioners who turn to played out black-hat SEO tactics that all business owners should avoid in 2021 and beyond.

Their services focus on a specific SEO task, which explains why their services are low cost. For example, you might find a guy that specializes in building backlinks but nothing else.


You can typically hire an inexpensive SEO freelancer for under $200.

Pros and Cons

Once again, keep this in mind when hiring cheap SEO experts.


  • They can be a sufficient starting point for side hustles and microbusinesses.
  • Lowest cost of entry.
  • Short term agreements (or no-contract).


  • Lack of results.
  • Cookie-cutter tactics and strategies.
  • Little to no ongoing support.
  • Higher likelihood of costly mistakes.

Who Is It For?

Cheap SEO services may be a good fit for micro-businesses and side hustles.

For any serious business owner, it should be noted that cheap search optimization solutions will often come at a greater cost down the road.

Frequently Asked Questions

Isn’t “Cheap” a Subjective Word?

What’s cheap and what’s not can indeed be highly subjective. A huge corporation, for example, could find $3,000 to be  a good deal. But small business owners would quickly disagree.

That being said, it’s safe to categorize SEO services as we have above, noting that cheap would indicate something costing a few hundred dollars or less.

Are SEO and SEM the Same Thing?

In short, no.

SEM generally refers to search engine marketing, which is another way of saying Pay-Per-Click advertising.

SEO on the other hand, is the process of improving a site, so it gets organic rankings in the search engine results.

How Often Should You Revist Your SEO Plan?

At the very least, you should update your SEO plan whenever Google makes an algorithm change. This will help you avoid any dips in your performance online.

A semi-annual review is usually a good idea though, if you’re not already checking in more often than that.


Virtually all business owners likely need to have a website, and should thus be actively looking for ways to improve their return on investment online.

Hiring an SEO agency is a no-brainer early step that should be strongly considered.

Hopefully, if you’re ready to take that step, you now feel well-equipped to make a smart decision about what type of SEO agency will be right for your business.

Of course, if you’d like our advice, feel free to reach out to us at any time. We’d be more than happy to assist.

Marketing jack-of-all-trades, ascendant wordsmith, and self-proclaimed World’s Best Dog Dad. I write about SEO, social media and content marketing.