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What to expect with budget SEO packages – you’ve been warned!

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Article Overview

Cheap SEO is very tempting especially when your understanding is limited and all you want to do is rank on Google. Below will highlight why budget SEO agencies are so worrying and so bad for your business.

Are you on a tight SEO marketing budget and expect miracles? Are you looking for a low-cost SEO agency that can deliver exceptional results on a small budget?

In 2024, if you are a Sydney business owner, you are probably worried about the economy and the cost of living and doing business. Inflation is biting hard, wages are rising, and the cost of keeping your doors open is challenging. So, as a prudent business owner, you are always looking for great deals, good value, and, in many cases, the cheapest service provider. And, in the case of SEO and marketing your website, this is probably the first area you’ll look at a cheap and cheerful option. There are so many SEO agencies out there in Australia and abroad, all offering their services and saying the same things like:

we can get you to page 1 of Google within 90 days

you don’t have to pay till you get to page 1

we have done this for many other businesses in your niche and can do it for you.

Blah blah blah – the list is endless, and these guys will tell you what you want to hear and say anything to get your business. Remember, many of these so-called SEO companies are based in India or The Philippines, so if they can get a couple of hundred dollars per month from you, that’s a decent income for doing nothing other than signing you up. Multiply this by many Australian small businesses, and they are making a decent income.

So, what can you expect from these cheap SEO agencies? I’ll help you understand what they do, their business model and what they will do for the monthly money you pay them. I’ll also outline the potential issues you likely expect by engaging these shady operators.

What are cheap SEO services?

It’s a no-brainer. Cheap SEO refers to search engine optimisation performed on a very tight budget, ranging from $100 to $500 per month. The aim of these services is to get more exposure for your website on Google through higher rankings for more keywords that relate to your business. Ideally, these companies need to get your business ranking on Google for your core high-value keywords – all on a budget and, in some cases, in very competitive niches.

Cheap SEO services have been around for well over a decade, perhaps even two, and they will likely stay the same as the barriers to entry are very easy, and the spoils are massive. It’s a numbers game and these guys are dam good at their sales spiels and converting you over. Most businesses now frown upon the SEO industry because of cheap operators who hound businesses with daily phone calls and spammy emails that you can never get rid of. It’s a tidal wave of spam, all aimed at trying to rip you off through their imaginary SEO service offerings. I do hope that after reading this article, you’ll have the information you need to guide you through the smoke and mirrors that can cloud your better judgement when choosing an SEO provider.

Budget SEO company Vs good SEO agency?

Budget SEO relies on quantity sales. It’s a production line where two businesses enter and one exits. They have excellent salespeople who will sign you up for a yearly contract promising all these sweet goodies, but as soon as you sign up, you’ll never really hear from them again. You might get allocated an account manager, but contact is generally only via email at best, and phone contact is always hit-and-miss. They’ll dazzle you with so much BS to make it sound like they’ll be doing a thorough job with activities like web stats, traffic and a few other titbits that can easily be obtained by cheap or free software. But, herein lies the problem; all of this is meaningless unless they can comply with the four fundamentals of SEO:

On-page SEO

Off-Page SEO – linkbuilding


Website issues

With a cheap SEO company, you will get none of the above. Maybe a few directory links or pointless backlinks from sites they own (aka private blog networks), but at the end of the day, nothing will happen with your rankings. How can I be so confident saying this? Well, I’ve been doing SEO for nearly 20 years, and I’ve seen businesses get absolutely smashed by using these cheap operators. None of these agencies understand SEO, but what they are good at is selling SEO. And, if they end up writing a bit of content, they’ll only use some AI software to churn out a blog or two, which will harm your standings with Google. It’s all about the lack of human contact and a fly-under-the-radar approach. The less they speak to you, the more likely you’ll forget about them and the fees they charge you, which is their modus operandi. Understanding this is an essential first step in knowing how to pick a low-cost, dodgy SEO agency.

The low-cost SEO business model – how it works.

Low-cost SEO companies rely on a churn-and-burn approach.

When we think of a churn-n-burn way of doing business, we assume that there is no passion or investment in retaining clients, and this is the absolute definition of low-cost SEO companies. I like to think of it like a production line where your business flows down a path till it exits at the other end. So let me elaborate, so you get a clearer idea:

Stage 1: The sales phone call where they promise you incredible rankings for a super-competitive price.

Stage 2: You sign up and commit to a lengthy 12-month contract for $500 per month via a direct debit.

Stage 3: The salesperson you spoke to on the phone completely disappears, and you are palmed over to an account manager who is your only point of contact.

Stage 4: The first couple of direct debits come out of your account, and your Google rankings go nowhere

Stage 5: You send countless emails to your account manager, who may get back to you in a few days – super frustrating!

Stage 6: You let it slide and are prepared to wait another month or two, but still nothing happens – we are at the 6-month mark now, and you’ve invested $3000.

Stage 7: Exit strategies start going through your head, BUT you remember you have signed a 12-month contract!!

Stage 8: Your account manager has contacted you several times via email and one Zoom call with promises that SEO is a long-term ball game and you must be patient. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, and you are paying for sweet nothing!

Stage 9: 12 months is up, and you have gone nowhere on Google!

Stage 10: you start the process of searching for an SEO provider again, but this time, you are jaded and don’t trust any SEO provider or what they tell you. You end up using a friend’s recommendation who’s a freelancer and just as bad as the low-cost provider. 

I’ve seen the above happen so often, and it’s all because you feel that SEO doesn’t require a portion of your marketing budget.

With low-cost SEO agencies, you can expect the following:

  • Minimal communication and only via email
  • An office in Sydney, but most of the actual work, if any, is overseas.
  • Glitzy Monthly reports detailing graphs, figures, and charts that have no relevance to improving rankings.
  • No detailed on-page technical changes to the site
  • No advice on content creation
  • A report showing a few links created on their private blog network (this is a sure sign that you are in for a future Google penalty).
  • Direct debits are taken out of your account like clockwork. Low-cost SEO agencies love direct debit because they don’t have to invoice you every month for the work. If they would, you’d probably not pay them. A direct debit is the best way to avoid any contact with you, thereby keeping you on the hook, in the dark and blind to the fact that no work is being done.
  • Any talk of cancelling the contract is met with threats of legal action or a stern reminder that you have signed a contract.

Client retention is the name of the game with low-cost SEO

Let’s get real here and be honest. Low-cost SEO is all about keeping you on the hook and keeping you for as long as they can (at least to the end of the contract) or before you cancel your direct debit. The contact will always come after you send a nasty email or phone message, and the aim is to get that one next direct debit payment. It’s as simple as that. 

Low-cost SEO providers have two departments: sales and client retention teams. In so far as the work team, well, that’s somewhere in Asia, but you’ll never know where and who works on your site. The sales team’s goal is clear: to hook you in and spin the BS, and the retention team is to tell you that SEO is a long game and that you are nearly there, and it won’t be long before you crack it. Just imagine the abuse the retention team cop daily. And, yes, there’s also the outbound telesales team who are also based in Asia and are on the phones daily, calling businesses, spewing their vile BS and annoying the hell out of everyone.

What are the business risks of budget SEO services?

The risks with low-cost/budget SEO are clear. You pay money, and you get zero for it. You could give it to charity. At least you can see something tangible, and you are helping people. If they work on your website, the issues could arise with poor on-page practices. They can mess with your website, and what’s worse is that if they decide to link build, you might end up penalising your website. Then, you’ll have to go through the whole process this time not to rank your site but to get the penalty removed. An absolute nightmare as you’ve wasted all this time, effort and money and for what? Nothing! Oh yes, they got you a penalty! And they’ll blame it on your last SEO agency 100%. To be honest, it’s best if they don’t touch anything. Keep them from adding AI-generated copy or dodgy cheap backlinks without relevance or authority.

What does SEO cost?

After all this, you must wonder what an SEO agency like ours charges for SEO. Well, that depends on several variables like:

  • competitive nature of your niche
  • age of website
  • number of new pages required
  • site UX and design
  • number of competitors
  • SEO history

But, to give you some figures, SEO is between $1500 and $8000 per month. Again, to cement these, we need to review these figures based on your current standing on Google and all other variables above.


I understand it! The temptation is massive to pay less for SEO. Why wouldn’t you? If they sound legitimate and tell you what you want to hear, then you’d go for it and try it. All I can say is that SEO is not easy! It’s hard and takes time, effort and lots of intellectual property. I’ve invested so much of my energy and time on websites to get them to rank consistently on Google, which takes so much time. And this requires a decent budget. So, if you want to waste time and money and lose business to your competition, try low-cost SEO (remember you have been warned). But if you want to grow your business online, please get in touch with us at SEO Sydney Experts. 

steven waldberg - ceo seo sydney experts

About the author

Steven Waldberg

Steven is the director of SEO Sydney Experts and is one of the founding members ( that’s over 18 years ago). He has one of the longest careers in the SEO and content marketing industry and has written for many prestigious websites, including B & T and AdNews. If you’re serious about working with someone who will dedicate 100% of himself to your business; Steven is your SEO Expert.

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