There is a concept in project management known as the Triple Constraint or Project Management Triangle.
I won’t bore you with the finer details but the basic idea is that we have three primary constraints in any project:
- Scope/quality – how much and how good
- Time – how long it will take to deliver
- Cost – how much it will cost
As a project is specified these primary elements are defined: what will be achieved, how long it will take and how much it will cost. Then, it quite obviously follows that changes to scope, speed or budget will have a negative impact on the other elements.
The SEO triangle
This concept can be equally applied to the provision and delivery of digital marketing and in particular SEO because anyone who has experience should know that cheap SEO can do more harm than good! SEO service providers that make grandiose claims regarding ranking and speed with a low-cost delivery (and usually a lack of transparency) should be avoided for the very reasons we will look at here.
Within this framework you can pick two of these options when determining how you want this to work:
- Fast & Cheap – then quality will be dreadful (dangerous in the SEO world)
- Fast & Good – then prepare to dig deep as it certainly won’t be cheap
- Good & Cheap – doable in many cases but it won’t be fast
So, from a pure SEO perspective if you are looking for something that is good and fast be prepared to pay for a high-quality service. If you are looking for a cheaper SEO package that maintains the quality you have to be realistic about how long this will take. Cheaper SEO packages are available – marketing is after all requires investment and commitment but will drive you onwards towards your business goals.
Good & cheap – The SEO Danger Zone
Where you have to be really careful here is where you want this to be good and cheap. This leads you towards companies that may claim to follow search engine guidelines with regards to search optimisation but in fact conduct underhand strategies often referred to as Black Hat SEO. These strategies are designed to game the system and provide a ranking boost through manipulation of the search engine algorithm.
However, the end result is the same. The companies that claim to be good and cheap are generally looking to artificially inflate the popularity of your site by building links. In simple terms, Google looks at links as votes so links do help you rank. However, the quality of the links is of utmost importance and where these are on web properties manufactured by the SEO agency or are bought with the sole purpose of improving rank then they are what is known as a link scheme and can hurt you long term.
The following diagram illustrates what we like to call the SEO danger zone – where a service claims to be fast and cheap – there is really no way that a service can be fast and cheap – it just does not add up so if this is what you are being promised I suggest some serious due diligence with regards to your provider.
The question you have to ask yourself here is as follows:
Is my SEO company cleverer than the hundreds upon hundreds of Google scientists working on refining the Google ranking algorithm?
I am going to save you the brain cycles here – they are not, and not by a country mile. Sure, there are loopholes and some of these strategies can have short term gains but if Google giveth through manipulation they will most surely take away (with great vengeance and furious anger no less!).
Good SEO = Good Marketing
As dull as it may sound good SEO is built on top of good marketing. It is not enough to just do good marketing, you have to apply some SEO smarts as well but good SEO without good marketing is pretty rare. A solid marketing plan, realistic goals and a long term plan are all key components in developing strong, sustainable search engine visibility.
There is often a belief that a good SEO is like Harry Potter – he can simply wave his magic SEO wand and bellow “Rankarte Ascendare” and your site will magically flutter to the top of the relevant results. Unfortunately, in this ever more competitive search landscape, there are no silver bullets – it is just good, old-fashioned hard work. Part art and part science and the winners of tomorrow will be those willing to put the work in today.