Rentacoder. Elance. Odesk. The number of places it’s possible to go hire some ardent Filipino, Indian, or Bangladeshi keyboard jockey to do “SEO work” for pennies per hour is ever-growing — but is that kind of SEO actually worthwhile? Sure, in terms of the amount of money you have to spend up front, it can seem like affordable SEO, but there’s a lot more to good SEO than a good cost-per-link.
If you spend a half-million dollars on a new Bugatti Veyron and then it breaks down and is unusable within a month, you kind of expect your money back — or at least for Bugatti to fix it for you. Hell, you’d do the same thing if you spend ten grand on a brand new Nissan Versa that broke down in the first few weeks.
Not to denigrate all freelancers — there are some superstars out there — but by and large, when you pay a few bucks an hour, you get your money’s worth. More explicitly, almost everyone who really knows the rules of SEO and has the work ethic to kick ass has already been hired by an SEO company somewhere and doesn’t have to work through Elance or Odesk to find clients.
Here’s what happens: you pay a freelancer to build some backlinks. They do. But then a few weeks later, you find that the backlinks they’ve built aren’t working. Maybe they built them to places that have simply stopped existing (blog posting to pages that weren’t maintained, forums where the admin came through and deleted an obviously marketing-oriented post, etc.) Maybe they built links that were deemed spammy by the search engines and your site is getting penalized for them. Maybe they wrote content in ‘Inglish’ and the clickthrough rate is zero. Whatever the reason, this kind of this happens constantly. It’s literally like spending your ten grand on a Reliant Robin and then being upset when the thing flips over every time you turn a corner.
If you want affordable SEO, you should start by talking to a full-fledged SEO company. You might pay a bit more up front than you would for a freelancer, but you’ll get results that stick — and you can’t have affordable SEO unless it sticks.