I don’t have one. Just contact me on Upwork if you want to discuss a project.

View my Upwork Profile

How to hire an SEO agency

(without getting screwed)

Steven Alexander Young
Founder of Challenger Digital

Challenger Digital isn’t your typical SEO agency, and this isn’t your typical sales page.

But if you want extraordinary results, the last thing you want is to work with a typical marketer.

There are 3 common lies SEO agencies tell to get your money:

Lie #1: "SEO is a long-term play"

Everyone says it takes at least 6 months minimum to start seeing results in SEO. But this is total BS! Just think: It allows SEOs to avoid all accountability — even if they completely fail at everything, they’ve already taken your money!

Lie #2: “You need more backlinks”

Agencies love link building because it’s a repeatable activity that can be totally isolated from the rest of your business. But never trust blanket prescriptions! Backlinks are like gasoline: You need it to drive, but even turbo fuel can’t help a car with no wheels.

Lie #3: “Site Speed is a top ranking factor”

If you sign up for a free SEO audit, there’s a 95% chance it’ll start with a site speed analysis. Why? It’s one of the few concrete numbers in SEO… and unlike, say, DA/PA, it’s relatively easy to increase quickly. But it’s really NOT as important as it’s made out to be — after testing, one top SEO blogger actually REVERSED their speed optimizations because the tradeoffs weren’t worth it!

"So are all SEO agencies a scam?"

I could go on, but I’m not here to scare you away from investing in SEO. It’s definitely possible to get results if you actually know what you’re doing.

Just read these verified, unedited testimonials from REAL clients who found me on Upwork (a platform where it’s impossible to game your reviews the way most agencies do):

“Is this going to cost me a fortune?”

Before I go on, let’s address the gorilla in the room: My prices are not "cheap." My rate is $1,000/hour, and a typical one-time project will cost $5-10k.

And yet, my clients routinely say that I’m much more cost-effective than all the other options they’ve tried. How is that possible? Well, they say it best:

Working with me means:

NO Unethical Sales!

If an SEO asks you “What’s your budget?” it’s because they want to know the maximum they can milk you for. But my prices don’t change no matter what your budget is. Of course, I only accept a project if I’m confident it will be profitable for you (and if you’re definitely not ready for my services, I’ll tell you up front).

NO Forced Retainers!

I truly believe that most SEO retainers are downright predatory. You’re locked into recurring fees long before you’ll ever see an ROI, and it incentivizes unscrupulous practices that leave you chained to your agency. But if I can get you results, then I know you’ll be back — so ALL my services start as a one-time project, with no strings attached.

NO Bullsh*t Services!

Most SEOs rely on their clients being in the dark. They’ll charge for services like “Properly create, configure, and optimize sitemap architecture” which sounds really serious, but really is a ZERO-minute task (Literally — most of my clients already have an automatically generated sitemap that’s good enough and don’t even know it!

Looking for a contact form?

I don’t have one. Just contact me on Upwork if you want to discuss a project.

View my Upwork Profile

My SEO Packages & Pricing

Want an SEO audit?

Well, I don’t actually do traditional SEO audits — most of them are completely useless auto-generated reports. They point out “problems”, but don’t help you solve them. You’re essentially paying to get a sales pitch.

But if you’re in the market for an audit-like service (expert guidance for you to DIY your SEO), I designed a better deliverable called an “Execution Plan”. 

An Execution Plan is all substance, no bloat: There’s no fancy cover page, no colorful pie charts, and no filler content to hit an arbitrary page count. Just a simple Google Doc that lists out all the optimizations I would make, explains how to handle them, and lets you know how difficult / impactful they are so you can prioritize.

You’ll be able to share your Execution Plan with your team and have them work through it like a checklist.

This isn’t something I make off a copy-pasted template. I customize EVERYTHING based on your industry, your tech, your branding, your competition, your team’s capabilities, and more.

Note: By their nature, all audits / Execution Plans need additional work to reap the benefits. That’s means you’ll need at least one of the following:

a) The skills to make the optimizations yourself

b) A team with the skills to execute the optimizations

c) Enough budget to hire people to execute the optimizations

To save you the hassle of hiring someone for a task you may not fully understand, my own team may be able to help execute certain suggestions. If they’re small enough, I’ll sometimes include them for free. For more hands-on optimizations, it would have to be an additional fee. How much we’re able to help depends on your tech stack, but in most cases we’re able to implement even the most difficult optimizations much quicker and cheaper than if you were to hire an outside developer / designer / etc.

$5k USD

Want done-for-you SEO Services?

If you just want to sit back and relax while my team takes care of everything for you, then this is the package to choose.

My goal is never to make the most money from you. I want to start with the minimum amount to lower your risk. The minimum for this type of project is $10k, and rarely does it ever need to go over. Instead, I scope the project to fit the minimum price.

The actual deliverables will change depending on your business. If your tech is really messed up, I might spend most of my time fixing your backend. If your design is horrendous, I may spend my time on UI/UX improvements. If you have a lot of content with mediocre rankings that just need a boost, I’ll spend my time reworking your content.

If for some reason you need very extensive help beyond what a package of this size can reasonably tackle (for example: completely redesigning a horrendously ugly website, writing a ton of all-new content, a total overhaul of your backend tech, etc.) then I’ll let you know before we start so you can budget accordingly for a separate project.

$10k USD

Want to launch an SEO program from scratch? (10k)

If you’ve never done any SEO before, then your first project will be different than a typical done-for-you project. 

It takes more effort to start ranking from nothing, vs if you already have at least some Google presence but, say, want to move from the bottom of page 1 to the top.

The price is the same as the other DFY service, but you’ll have a much higher chance of needing ongoing monthly help. Only hire me for this if you have enough budget set aside.

$10k USD

Just want a quick SEO consultation?

Want to just get me on a Zoom call so you can ask a bunch of SEO questions? Want me to do a live teardown of your most valuable landing page? Want an expert to look at what your SEO agency is doing and give you a second opinion?

This is my smallest available service offering. If you’re on a budget, it’s the best bang for your buck — but obviously, your mileage may vary depending on what you want to focus on.

The way this gets structured will vary, but 95% of the time it’s some version of: Throw a bunch of info, data, and/or questions at me, I prepare as much as possible, then we cram as much value into a ~60-90 minute Zoom call as possible (and if you have follow up questions later, don’t worry — I’ll still reply to those over email).

$3k USD

Before we can work together

My own businesses keep me very busy, so I’m very careful with accepting new clients.

You’ll notice there’s no contact form on this site. That’s intentional — if you want to hire me, you’ll need to send me an invite on the Upwork platform. While I used to accept inquiries through my website, using Upwork exclusively provides several advantages for both of us:

You can actually trust what I pitch you

On Upwork, my reputation is always on the line: Bad reviews are public, and failed jobs affect my stats (even if it wasn’t my fault). You can rest assured that I won’t accept a job if I’m not confident that your business is a good fit. Without a 3rd party platform, it’s too easy for agencies to sell, sell, sell, no matter what — client complaints are never visible.

Payment is super simple

Rather than deal with the hassle of loose invoices, you can put payment into escrow at the beginning of a project with a fixed-price contract, or let me bill you from my side at the end of a project with an hourly contract. NDA terms, expense handling, arbitration, and more features are built into the system.

My responses are faster

Upwork eliminates spam and makes things simple enough that I don’t need any assistants to handle my replies. While it can still take a few days to hear back from me sometimes (especially if you reach out on a weekend) it’s much easier to process job invitations on the platform than over email.

Next Steps

When you’re ready to get in touch, just go to my Upwork profile and click the green Invite button to send an intro message. Don’t worry, this won’t lock you into a project — we’ll chat about details for a bit before you have to decide on anything.

If you don’t have an Upwork account, you’ll need to create one before the Invite button appears. If you don’t have the time/patience for this, we’re probably not going to work well together. If you’re so annoyed by this simple process that you decide you don’t want to work with me… good! This is how I filter my leads.

Please note that due to the number of inquiries I get on Upwork, I automatically decline any “canned” invite messages that start with the default “Hello! I’d like to invite you to take a look at the job I’ve posted” or ones that are just copy/pastes of a job description. For best chances of getting a response back from me, please take the time to write a personalized message that explains why you want to work together.

The more details you can include, the better. Please also include a link to your website(s) so I can take a quick preliminary look before I write a reply.

Send me an invite on Upwork