How Bad SEO Can Cost You More Than Just Money 


Industry leaders proclaim that ‘cheap/bad SEO costs more than money’. And we agree. Here’s why opting for that ‘low-cost’ SEO programme could be damaging to your business and your revenue. 

There’s always someone out there who can do it cheaper‘. 

While this is true, you will always get what you pay for

If you honestly expect to receive a VIP service for mere cents, then the real world has a special message for you. It has seven letters, and three of them are ‘F’. 

Of course, it’s hard not to be affected by contemporary and embroidered marketing, the likes of which swarm across our digital platforms like binary locusts. 

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It’s common to stumble across a sponsored, low-rent video advert on social media of a supposed professional (usually in their bedroom) spouting claims such as: ‘I can get you to the top of the Google search rankings in 45 minutes‘, or ‘I will get you to the No.1 spot for only $4.99‘. 

With recession forever hanging over our heads, it would take sheer confidence in your current SEO management not to become ensnared by these claims. It’s the dream, after all, isn’t it? Paying less to receive more – and quickly, too. 

However, on the flip side, it would take blind dependence or narcissistic economizing to charge down a path where you believe better results can be had from paying a small amount of money to an unproven individual

See Charles Ponzi as the prime example of false claims masking an unscrupulous end result. Ever heard of a Ponzi scheme? Yeah, the unflattering term comes courtesy of that guy. The same finale commonly applies to any disgruntled individual who has recently fallen for the ‘I can do it cheaper’-guise. 

In the mumbling cesspit of bad SEO’ fame seekers’, there are plenty of rival IT egotists who have slapped together a career primarily based on manipulation of the search algorithms through sheer luck or fate. Or, as some would also call it – hacking. And Google doesn’t take kindly to such activity

While low prices and direct promises from a glittering smile can hypnotize with visions of a vibrant future, it’s often a false prophecy

To help you avoid the well-vexed, Judas-based mantra of those offering ‘cheap/bad SEO’, we’ve analyzed some of the aspects that will drag your rankings down and the various penalties that await you – penalties that could assist in destroying your business

What Are You Paying For?

Bad SEO does not allow the time for healthy SEO

Bear in mind what your money is effectively paying for – someone’s time

Incompetent practitioners that pedal ill-designed SEO strategies don’t have longevity in their business plan. Instead, their hollow-eyed smile and repeated blowing of smoke masks their true intent. To target those who are desperate for leads and hold little-to-no knowledge of the modern digital structure.

The temptation of easy money from unsuspecting business owners far outweighs healthy morals in the eyes of lack-lustered, pound-shop Gordon Gekkos. And is there any more accessible money out there, other than manipulating a struggling business owner with the promise of great results for a discounted cost? 

Where does that discount come from? You got it. Time. 

Organic SEO is a time-heavy service. To gain the best results from the likes of Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, vast swathes of man-hours remain imperative to success. If you aren’t paying properly, you will not be gifted the hours necessary to bring SERP-sponsored glory to your business (Search Engine Results Page). 

Look at it another way. If you were being paid $299 per month, how many hours would you spend working? And would you be motivated to do anything beyond the bare minimum? 

If you retained a minimum wage of $7.95 per hour, $299 would result in 37.5 hours per month. Considering those solid SEO strategies can take up to 37.5 hours per week, less than 38 hours per month isn’t going to facilitate growth. 

Furthermore, SEO is relatively dependent on tracking, reviewing, and reporting. To gain the best insight and action on a sustainable strategy, you need to utilize Google Analytics and the likes of SEMrush, BrightLocal, LocalViking, Ahrefs, and Moz Pro – all of which are data platforms. These are not all free platforms, and the tool-subscription costs will not be covered by $299 per month

As such, your would-be bad SEO guru is rudderless and lost upon the digital ocean. It is challenging for them to yield results. So, simply, they don’t. Yet, meanwhile, they are eating steak for lunch on your money. 

Most SEO-imposters will counteract your concerns about lack of progress by playing every card in the book. They won’t drop you as a client; they will instead drain every monthly payment from you until you make the executive decision to quit their service. 

By that point, you’ve spent thousands of dollars and feel burnt enough by your experience never to invest in SEO again. Which is highly detrimental to your revenue in a modern, digitally-dependant world. 

Don’t fall for the ‘cheap’ trap. Always remember – you only get the time and commitment that you pay for. An SEO business is not a charity. 

Your alarm bells should be ringing if you are asked for a year’s worth of payments upfront, too. It’s a common occurrence to discover that the person – or company – that you have given your money to has run off, or their lack of recurring revenue may have forced them out of business. 


Bad SEO does not target your business niche

We won’t subject you to information overload regarding the different types of SEO. All you need to know is that there are different types. It takes experience and competence to be successful in each given niche. 

Each niche, naturally, has a different clientele. Specific niches nurture different characteristics. This is where knowledge on each niche becomes invaluable

People search for things in different ways, and knowing how each market segment utilizes long-tail search terms is really important. The slang terms used to find what they need through the Google search bar (other search engines are available) don’t come from a quick internet search on the subject. It comes from experience

Some niches can cope with deprived SEO for a certain amount of time, especially those that compete in low competition niches. Yet, you won’t get away with this for long. Eventually, your results will be downgraded, and you’ll end up spending excessive amounts of time and money trying to put it right. It usually costs more to fix someone else’s mess. 

Without knowing your particular niches – such as healthcare and physical therapy – it’s almost impossible to roll out an effective SEO strategy. Instead, you’ll get a generic approach that doesn’t reflect your business

A generic strategy is a cookie-cutter, cut-and-paste alternative to creating a bespoke service. It saves time and improves efficiency at their end, but won’t bring any long-term positives for you as a client. You cannot use a cookie-cutter approach for both an e-commerce store and a physical therapy clinic. 

The cookie-cutter approach is only one of the ways that cheap/bad SEO cuts corners. Don’t expect the versatility of a Range Rover when paying for boxcart-levels of development. 

Fresh Content And Links

Good SEO means new content

You may get some headline tweaks and an optimized sales page for $299, but you won’t be getting any fresh content and links. And without content and links, your SEO package is effectively worthless. It doesn’t matter how flashy they make your website; you will not gain exposure without fresh content. And don’t even get started with the idea of copying someone else’s content to save time and money.

Those who claim to be an ‘affordable SEO company’ don’t have the financial prowess to produce quality content. After all, a single piece of content can cost thousands of dollars to write, research, edit, and publish on your behalf. And that’s primarily because of the man-hours required to make the content fit for purpose. 

If, despite the low cost, the ‘affordable SEO company’ still offers you freshly weaved content, run a plagiarism check to ensure the content is not stolen or duplicated. Also, run a search for content spinning – a ‘black hat’ SEO practice that can land you a strict Google penalty. Definitely a no-go plan. 

As for links, you simply cannot build a good citation and backlink strategy without investing money. It takes a considerable amount of time to build networks, and secure a link placement on authoritative websites. 

Rather than spending time organizing quality links, a dodgy SEO practice will find spammy websites and follow through on that dangerous technique of ‘keyword stuffing’. This will also lead to strict Google penalties. 

And who pays for this damage? It’s not the SEO person. No. Rather, it’s you and your business. Your website will eventually become tainted, and you’ll tumble down the rankings akin to how Boris Johnson’s approval ratings recently landed in the toilet

By not following the Google rulebook, you are paying for someone else’s learning curve. If you are paying for the cheapest SEO package (although, don’t confuse that with a discounted rate given to loyal clients), then you’re probably paying for someone to learn – rather than gaining SEO increases.

Lack of Accountability And Damage To Your Reputation

Bad SEO does not allow for accountability

If you partner with a reputable SEO package, you are working with a company that genuinely cares about your business. They will have an image that they care about and will strive to provide customer satisfaction.  

When you select someone ‘who can do it cheaper’ over anyone else, chances are they are only interested in earning a quick load of cash. They don’t really care. You are paying them monthly, and they’ll lead you down the garden path to get another payment from you. They only want one-off projects and short-term clients – although they won’t tell you that. 

When all a company – or individual – wants is your money, they will never be held accountable for failings. And that can lead to further disaster for your company’s reputation. 

By cutting corners, abusing the leverage that Google allows, and ignoring the progressive SEO landscape, your brand will likely become damaged. Especially when Google catches up with your brand’s murky/bad SEO activity. 

Google will view you in a good light should you follow the rules. However, they are not quite so happy with so-called ‘black hat’ SEO tactics. If you compromise the integrity of the SEO world, you will effectively be hung, drawn, and quartered. And Mel Gibson cannot save you

Boiled down, if you break the rules on a repeated basis in pursuit of quick ranking changes (the calling card of a cheap/bad SEO package), you will be penalized. Sometimes you can revert the penalties by cleaning up your act. Still, sometimes the damage is done, and you are basically blacklisted. 

As you would expect, this kills all your traffic. 

And then kills your reputation. 

And then kills your leads. 

And then kills your revenue. 

And Google continues to believe you are manipulating the system.

So they bump your rankings down again. 

And repeat. 



If the company or person to whom you are discussing a cheap SEO package mentions how they ‘have industry secrets’ or have ‘worked at Google and know how to get around’, then hit the exit. 

Any SEO company that claims to have deciphered the Google algorithm is talking bull. They may have a new approach, but nobody can crack the Google algorithm as it is forever changing. What worked last year will very much not work now. 

As for claiming to have a relationship with Google, that’s the misleading statement of the decade. Google isn’t stupid. In fact, it’s a bit paranoid. And, as such, non-disclosure agreements are signed by staff to prevent manipulation of the system.  

Are they also making outlandish promises? Promising a page-one ranking within a set amount of time is nonsense. Sadly, there is absolutely no way to guarantee rankings.

At Direct Response PT, we work incredibly hard to rank on the first page. We explain that we will not stop until that result is reached, but we don’t promise anything within a specific time scale. It would be unprofessional to offer false representation. 

Bad SEO: Basically…

Good SEO brings leads!

As we’ve repeatedly mentioned, you get what you pay for. And if you are cutting costs, you should expect diminishing results.

Cheap SEO is cheap for a reason. The service will not be tailored to your business niche, and the actions (so imperative to success) will be carried out by someone either lacking motivation or experience. Or both. Especially if they are working for a minuscule wage.  

Poor SEO, or SEO practices that don’t follow the guidelines founded by the search engine giants, is actually more destructive than not having any SEO at all. 

You may feel like you are saving money by opting for the cheapest option, but it will cost you in other ways. 

The stress of uncertainty, unprofessional conduct from your SEO person, and lack of successful leads will ultimately strip you of all sustainable revenue. 

Think very carefully before you take the cheaper option. In this case, you cost yourself what you don’t pay for. 

Would you like to talk this through further? Why not get in touch with us through our contact page? We look forward to hearing from you! 

Calum Brown

Calum Brown

Calum has worked with SEO for the best part of a decade and is proud of it! He previously created and led Bauer's SEO strategy for their digital classic automotive portfolio and helped to launch America's largest collector car site for SpeedDigital. Having come from an SEO, marketing and editorial background, and having studied Business Information Systems at Edinburgh Napier University, Calum now dedicates his time to all things SEO. He takes great pride in helping Physical Therapy businesses find their perfect (local) clients and drinks copious amounts of tea doing so. Best not to feed him after midnight.

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About The Author

Calum Brown

Calum has worked with SEO for the best part of a decade and is proud of it! He previously created and led Bauer's SEO strategy for their digital classic automotive portfolio and helped to launch America's largest collector car site for SpeedDigital. Having come from an SEO, marketing and editorial background, and having studied Business Information Systems at Edinburgh Napier University, Calum now dedicates his time to all things SEO. He takes great pride in helping Physical Therapy businesses find their perfect (local) clients and drinks copious amounts of tea doing so. Best not to feed him after midnight.