It’s NOT Worth Hiring an SEO Expert

Hiring an SEO is Not Worth it

“SEO experts” are a rip-off. Especially for small businesses, you can easily throw away a good chunk of your profits. Hiring an SEO expert is not worth it because you can get the same services from a good content writer, a web designer, and SEO tools like Ahrefs and Screaming Frog. Don’t waste thousands of dollars on so-called overpriced SEO experts. What they do isn’t magic, and here’s why you shouldn’t hire them.

From now on, I will always use the word “Expert” in quotes – because these guys are thinly veiled scam artists.

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Reasons to Never Hire an SEO “Expert”

Here are five reasons why hiring a dedicated SEO is not worth it.

1. SEO “Experts” Charge Outrageous Prices

Go to any SEO forum on Reddit or BlackHatWorld, and you’ll see threads about SEOs encouraging each other to charge higher prices. SEO “experts” have drunk their cool-aid and genuinely believe they deserve to be paid thousands of dollars for elementary stuff.

SEO agencies are a true scam. Here’s an example of an SEO charging $2,500 for a basic report with a delivery time of 4-weeks!

SEO Overcharge for Basic Things
SEO Overcharge for Basic Things

Those in the SEO community will tell you that these prices are standard. But what if you’re a small business, and your site only brings in a few hundred dollars a month? Presumably, you can go to hell!

And in the end, I will get a mostly automated report that I can get for free elsewhere. This brings me to my next point.

2. SEOs Use Automated Tools

You’d think that with these high prices, SEO “experts” would do some actual work. But no! These guys run automated tools like Screaming Frog and pass them off as their work. Here’s a tweet showing how one SEO scam artist charged a company £80,000 for a Screaming Frog report that you can generate in five minutes:

Never Hire an SEO “Expert”

Another favorite tactic is to run an automated audit with Ahrefs and then generate a massive report showing all the “errors” found on your site like this:

SEO Experts Generate Reports from Automated Tools
SEO Experts Generate Reports from Automated Tools

Many of these so-called “problems” aren’t problems at all. For example, the SEMRush audit report has an item called a “Low text to HTML ratio”, which is pretty standard in WordPress sites because of media pages and archive pages. But it looks scary and makes you feel like the SEO “expert” you hired has done actual work.

3. SEO “Experts” Can’t Measure Their Performance

No SEO agency will ever give you a metric by which you can judge whether or not they’ve done an excellent job. This is the defining characteristic of the snake-oil seller. If your site ranking goes down, they tell you you must wait a little longer. If your ranking goes up, they take the credit even if they didn’t have any impact.

You’ll often hear the following phrases from SEOs:

  • Don’t expect quick results
  • Just wait a little longer
  • Google needs time to re-evaluate your site

What makes it so devious is that all of these are true! But they can be trotted out as an excuse to keep you from firing them. It’s not worth paying for SEO that you can’t measure.

4. SEOs Don’t have Privileged Information

SEOs portray themselves as high priests with a privileged connection to god. But the truth is that Google doesn’t provide them with confidential information. Google’s workings seem mysterious, but they’re impenetrable to everyone, including the SEO “experts”. Hiring one of these cons might make you feel that you’ve “paid your dues” to the search engine gods, but it’s only a psychological benefit. The most an SEO can provide is a fresh pair of eyes on your website.

But is it worth paying an SEO thousands of dollars to get someone to look at your site without bias? Lol, no!

SEOs often just follow accounts on Twitter like John Mueller and claim to know special things that no-one else does. This often leads to blind spots because neither Google nor Mueller is actually the least bit interested in helping your site to rank. A great example of fake advice is when SEOs warn you against changing the year in page titles because Mueller said not to.

5. SEOs Don’t Do Actual Work

SEOs like to view themselves as the architects of a building. They don’t do any of the hard work. Will they write articles for you? Hell no, that’s beneath them! Will they code your website? Of course not – those are actual skills. Much better to pontificate from the sidelines, advising about “structure,” “quality,” and “helpful content”.

But SEO “experts” do have some impressive skills. Making pretty reports, PowerPoint presentations, and importing/exporting automated reports to pass off as their own work.

Excuses SEOs Make for High Prices

To justify outrageous prices, SEOs have crafted a layered web of excuses – some of which they believe to shore up their ego.

Myth #1: ROI from SEO is High

Complain to any SEO “expert” about the price, and they’ll say, “You need to spend money to make money. Why are you complaining about $2000 when the benefits of SEO are $10,000!” Seemingly, it’s a watertight argument.

And yet, remember that an SEO will never allow you to measure their performance. If your site indeed increases revenue by $10,000, you can be sure that the SEO will be first in line to take the credit. Not the writer who wrote excellent quality content, and not your web designer who created a compelling experience for your visitors. No, there’s the SEO “expert” – standing with their chest puffed up in front of the people who worked hard to make your site a success.

“See, hiring me was worth it!”. No, it wasn’t. Your “advice” was freely available elsewhere or was plain common sense.

Myth 2: SEOs Know Stuff that You Don’t

SEOs like to justify their high prices by claiming that they have special skills and knowledge that mere web designers and content writers do not. Their knowledge – so they say – is what justifies the $100/hr fee.

But SEOs don’t have privileged information. True, there are some aspects of your site, like structured data and website indexing, that you need to keep an eye on. But it’s not worth hiring an SEO “expert” to tell you all that. A good web designer or a good content writer will be well aware of these things.

Myth 3: SEOs Work Hard

This is laughable. SEOs rely heavily on automated tools to analyze your website. Most of them apply the same checklist to all websites and charge you through the nose for what is the digital equivalent of manual labor. There’s very little judgment applied to their work.

The real hard work on your site is done by the content writers, the website designers, and the marketing people – who, incidentally, have to deliver actual results. The SEO work, by comparison, is responsibility-free, uncreative manual labor.

Myth 4: Your Competitors Hired an SEO, so you Need to Keep up

There’s always the fear of missing out. Part of you thinks that you’re leaving money on the table if your competitors have hired an SEO “expert”, and you haven’t. SEOs exploit this fear by egging you on to hire them, or else you’ll “fall behind”. You don’t want to lose out to your competitors, do you?

In truth, your competitors will lose out because they’re wasting thousands of dollars a month that you can use to grow your business instead.

What to do Instead of Hiring an SEO “Expert”

Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you to avoid the tender mercies of SEO “experts”, here’s what you should do instead. These are all things about which an SEO would give you advice anyway.

1. Hire an Experienced Web Designer

An SEO would tell you that your site design should allow your visitors to navigate to important areas quickly and that it should efficiently funnel users through their journey. But instead of speaking to an SEO, communicate with a good website designer who will ask you questions about your goals, how you plan to reach them, who your audience is, and more.

If using a CMS like WordPress, a good web designer will know which theme to select to meet your SEO goals.

2. Learn Keyword Research with Tools like Screaming Frog, Ahrefs or SEMRush

One of the essential arts of SEO is keyword research. However, you don’t need to pay an SEO “expert” thousands of dollars a month for this and can learn it yourself. To get started, Ahrefs has an excellent keyword research article that you can use along with the Ahrefs tool. If at all you want to spend money on SEO, spend it on a tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush. SEMRush has an excellent, free keyword research tool. You can also try your hand with Ubersuggest,, and more. And don’t forget Google’s free keyword tool, either. Screaming Frog is another staple SEO tool.

Once you learn the basics of keyword research, you’re pretty much set for SEO. Incidentally, avoid SEO packages sold by web hosts. For example, the HostGator SEO package is not worth it.

The Google Search Console is actually one of the best tools for keyword research, in addition to giving you valuable information on your site. Plus it lets you control your indexing. For example, here’s how to fix the “URL is not on Google” search console error.

3. Get a Good Writer to Complement Keyword Research

Your writer will be the main engine behind your search engine performance, which should be your website budget’s primary focus. Finding someone who knows how to write SEO-optimized articles (without overdoing it) is critical. It’s not just a matter of money; many writers charge outrageous prices and plagiarize content. Once you find someone you can trust, guard them jealously.

Use the knowledge you gained in the previous step to teach your writer how to research keywords. If they already know how to do it, even better. If you decide to pay for an SEO tool, share your login details with them, and get them to do the research and write articles for you.

Together, you and your writer need to come up with a content plan. What you’re going to focus on, how to organize your content into categories, and how to create hierarchies of content based on keyword topics and cornerstone pages. Here is where your keyword research knowledge will be invaluable.

None of this requires hiring an expensive SEO “expert”. Bypass the middle manager entirely, and work directly with your writer instead.

For “Technical SEO”, Consult your Web Designer or Writer

“Technical SEO” consists of structured data, website indexing, nofollow and noindex tags, canonicals, and more. SEO “experts” like to pretend that they’re the only ones qualified to deal with these issues, but the truth is that your web designer should already know how to deal with these issues. Use your SEO tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs to identify the technical problems on your site. These sites will also tell you how to fix the issues. Either broken links, 404 pages, missing alt-text on images, and more.

For any questions, use Google to figure things out quickly. It will all be second nature to you shortly, and you won’t need to hire an SEO “expert”.

Bottom Line: Hiring an SEO “Expert” is NOT Worth it

The money you spend on hiring an SEO is better spent on hiring a good web designer, a great writer, and SEO tools like Ahrefs or Screaming Frog. SEOs don’t have knowledge that isn’t freely available directly from search engine documentation or mysterious techniques. They often use automated tools and charge you exorbitant amounts for nothing more than formatted reports. Instead, hire someone who does actual work like writing or designing, and spend the little amount of time it takes to familiarize yourself with basic SEO concepts. It’ll save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

About Bhagwad Park

I've been writing about web hosting and WordPress tutorials since 2008. I also create tutorials on Linux server administration, and have a ton of experience with web hosting products. Contact me via e-mail!

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