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February 7, 2020

What are SEO Packages and 6 Reasons You Should Avoid Them

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Backlinks. Meta descriptions. Content. Something called “On-page optimization.”

You’ve heard of these SEO tactics and know you need them to help your business succeed online.  But you’re not sure how much of each seemingly very important strategy is necessary.  And you’re not entirely sure how to execute any of them.

SEO packages often look like the way to go for adding SEO into your business strategy. But are they?

Today we’re going to dive deeper into what exactly these packages include. How much does each individual service generally costs?  We’ll also tell you why you might be better off without an SEO package altogether.

What’s included in SEO packages?

seo packages services

While all SEO packages might have varying quantities of offerings or offer different services depending on which tier you purchase, they do all tend to include the same elements.

To give you the clearest picture of what these packages include, we’re going to break down the most common items:

Website development and design

What it is: Website development and design happens when an agency creates your website’s content and design elements. Depending on the level of design and technology needed, this also can include many hours of custom coding, along with integrating your logo and social media assests.

Why it’s included: Website development and design can be included in SEO packages because you need an optimized and user-friendly website to help pull people in and keep them there. You also need your website to function properly and responsively, no matter which devices your visitors are viewing it from.

Stand-alone price range: $1,000-$100,000+ one-time fee

Landing Page Development

What it is: Unlike a web page, which tends to have a variety of goals, a landing page has one specific goal: to get the person who lands on it to perform an action, i.e., subscribe to a newsletter, make a purcahse, download an e-book, etc.

Why it’s included: Landing pages are a necessity when it comes to getting your visitor focused on one goal. They’re created for lead generation and tend to be used in tandem with paid ads.

Stand-alone price range: $40-$400 per hour. You might also find this service charged at a per-page rate, ranging from $50-$500 or more, depending on the complexity of the page.

Google Analytics Configuration

What it is: A certified Google consultant will go through your analytics and make sure that everything is reporting back properly. They do things like: define visitor segments, build traffic funnels, configure e-commerce tracking, create conversion goals, and make sure events and social media are being tracked.

Why it’s included: Since Google Analytics are invaluable for keeping track of your site’s performance, this assessment helps ensure that your data interfaces optimally with its reporting features.

Stand-alone price range: Can range from $250-$500 per month

Keyword Research and Strategy

What it is: Performing strategic keyword research helps make sure you’re targeting keywords that will help your business’ goals — whether that means more traffic, higher-converting keywords, or both!

Why it’s included: Without a solid keyword strategy in place, you can easily create a website and pages that never get found on search engines (or that get found for the wrong reasons).

Stand-alone price range: $250-$1,000 per month, depending on volume and the agency or tools used

Content Development

What it is: Content development is the act of creating a variety of content to suit the needs of your buyer personas. These can include items like blog posts, site pages, landing pages, e-books, white papers, content offers, infographics, emails and social media posts.

Why it’s included: Solid content is crucial for both educating and nurturing your leads as well as helping search engines find your site.

Stand-alone price range: $500-$50,000 or more, depending on the company size and scope of work

On-Page Optimization

What it is: On-page optimization ensures that a website has proper tools in place to secure the best chance of being found by search engines using both content and HTML source code.

Why it’s included: On-page optimization is crucial for making sure that your web pages are in their best shape to be found by Google and read by visitors.

Stand-alone price range: $80-$130 per hour

Technical SEO

What it is: Technical SEO refers to optimizing your site for webcrawling and indexing purposes.

Why it’s included: This is important because Google needs to be able to crawl and index your site in order to properly understand and categorize it.

Stand-alone price range: $1,000-$5,000 per month

Link Building

What it is: Link building is the act of prospecting and obtaining high-quality inbound links with the goal of increasing domain authority and the search engine rankings of that page.

Why it’s included: High-quality links are one of the most sought-after “digital currencies” due to their impact on search rankings.

Stand-alone price range: $1,000-$100K per month, depending on strategies used and volume of work


What it is: Reporting is the act of informing clients how their website and the strategies behind it are performing in respect to their goals.

Why it’s included: Data and reporting is always crucial to confirm that your SEO tactics are producing the desired results.

Stand-alone price range: Not applicable. In our research, we found most packages include some level of reporting with their other services. This isn’t a stand-alone element.

SEO package pricing  

SEO packages tend to range anywhere from $500-$5,000 per month, depending on a few factors. These include:

  1. Who you’re working with: Some companies are just more expensive than others.
  2. Terms of the contract: A monthly retainer, one-off project, six-months upfront, etc.
  3. Volume of work: How much work needs to be done to meet package requirements?

There are varying kinds of SEO packages. Some companies offer tiered plans, in which the more you pay, the more services are added. Like this:

seo packages tiers

An issue with these kinds of packages is that companies sometimes leave very important services out of the basic tiers completely.  To solve this, it would make more sense for a company to offer custom services, ensuring that all of their customers receive the most important items.  

Another way that SEO packages can be bundled is this: Each tier includes the same basic services, but the more you pay, the greater quantity you get for select services. For example, a basic plan might include “up to 80 optimized keywords” while the second tier might be “up to 150 optimized keywords” and the top tier is “up to 300 optimized keywords.”

Here’s an example:

seo packaes kinds of plans

An issue with this type of  seo package is that one company might not need 300 optimized keywords, but instead might need more landing pages than are being offered in that package. This rigid structure can end up causing friction when the customer might want to take away some keywords to add some landing pages, but the SEO firm is unable or unwilling to adjust or customize their alleged foolproof plans.

Avoiding cheap SEO packages

No matter which kind of package you’re in the market for, however, it’s important to make sure you avoid choosing ones that are marketed as “cheap” or “affordable,” or that promise you “quick wins.” These simply are not likely to deliver quality service.

Always keep in mind that when SEO is done incorrectly, it can do way more harm than good.

In fact, due to its increasingly high demand and popularity, SEO services are more important today than ever before. Because of this, there are businesses out there who sell subpar SEO packages that produce dubious results, effectively giving some people a negative impression of SEO once their cheap packages inevitably fail.

Here are a few reasons why you need to avoid cheap SEO packages:

1. They don’t deliver a strategic, long-term strategy.

I mean, if we know one thing, it’s just how much work goes into acquiring high-quality, white-hat backlinks. Add another basic SEO requirement of posting well-researched, well-stated long-form content, and you get two essential functions that a cheap SEP agency simply cannot deliver, based on the resources and labor that goes into performing both of those tasks at a high level.

But that’s not all. Other basic requirements of SEO include proper keyword research for keywords that matter to your individual needs and understanding both on-page and technical SEO best practices.

Combine all of those with the fact that legitimate SEO takes significant time and a plan with an eye toward the long game, and you start to unravel just how much those “cheap” and “affordable” packages just will not move the needle.

2. “One size fits all” is rarely a good idea.

One of the most jarring things about pre-built SEO packages is the fact that they seem to blanket all businesses as requiring the same amount of the same things — a determination that just simply isn’t true. 

While Company X and Company Y might be in the same industry, that doesn’t mean that they both need the exact same SEO. Individual differences are something that these packages just don’t take into account. Each business is unique. While one might require more content production, another might need a focus on backlinks, and another might need an overhaul of their on-site optimization. 

It’s important for an SEO agency to fully evaluate a company’s digital assets before they begin working together in order to give a proper recommendation of what they might need. In the instance of a one-size-fits-all SEO package, this evaluation stage is either skipped or skimmed over.

3. Cheap packages often export work overseas.

These low cost packages tend to outsource a bulk of their work, which means your content or research might be in the hands of someone who probably doesn’t understand your business. 

4. They don’t take into account how competitive your vertical is

Every industry, niche, or vertical is different when it comes to digital marketing, and SEO packages simply don’t take that into consideration. An industry that has saturated the internet is going to be much harder to tap into than one that’s just beginning to break.

Another thing to think about here is that some industries do better with on-page SEO while others might need a more tailored PR strategy, and so forth. It’s unrealistic to think that any package is going to be able to cater to any two verticals the exact same.

5. They’re focused on checking boxes for deliverables and not focused on delivering results

A common theme with those cheap SEO packages is they tend to focus on tactics over strategy – meaning they’re zoned in on simply “getting things done” tactically, but rarely actually look at results to analyze what is or isn’t working.

When looking into an SEO agency to partner with, you should focus on the real results that they’ve delivered, not the fluff and busy work that they fill their time with.

6. Good, cheap & fast doesn’t exist.

Any agency selling you a cheap SEO package that boasts quick, high quality work is selling you a pipe dream: it just doesn’t exist. 

You can think of the Management Triangle here, which shows that there’s always some sort of tradeoff when it comes to cheap, fast and good work.

management triangle

When it comes to the Management Triangle,  you can only ever get two simultaneously.

Cheap + Fast = Lower quality work

Fast + Good = Expensive

Good + Cheap = Not happening anytime soon

Are SEO packages a good idea?

seo packages pros and cons

Are predefined SEO packages a good idea? Short answer: No. 

A majority of SEO packages may look like they would pack a punch. The problem is, it simply isn’t the best strategy for your business to get locked into offerings or services that may or may not move the online needle.

It can be fairly said that, when examined on their ultimate results for a company, most SEO packages will fail. That’s because when one-size-fits-all packages try to cover everyone, they miss one crucial fact: Each business is unique.

The truth is, SEO packages are usually created by companies who don’t want to put in the legwork and heavy lifting it takes to go all-in to serve a client’s goals. Your SEO partner needs to see your business as a part of their own, and the only real way to achieve that is by partnering with an agency who takes you seriously and recognizes your company’s unique position in its the market.

So whether it’s cheap or expensive, any pre-bundled package of SEO services should be avoided at all costs.

How we do SEO here

At North Star Inbound, we’d rather make recommendations for the client in front of us. 

We recognize that different clients have different goals. We believe each client should be handled for exactly who they are and what they’re looking to achieve. Sure, all clients want to increase their traffic, but most have different ideas and approaches toward what qualified traffic means to them and how to get there.

In our experience, when it feels like you need a lot of everything, it may seem tempting to go after a little bit of everything. But it may instead be smarter and more strategic to go for a lot of just a couple of things.

Especially for clients on a limited budget, we like to apply our strategic SEO know-how to make recommendations for what we feel will make the biggest direct impact — and then build a customed SEO program from there.

We believe that your business is unique and deserves the kind of tailored expertise that will bring you real results to positively impact your bottom line.

And it’s time you start believing that, too.

Founder & CEO of North Star Inbound