How to hire an SEO agency (without getting screwed)

By Steven Alexander Young & Co.

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 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 off 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):


How I Do Business

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.

But my clients routinely say that I’m cheaper than all the other options they’ve tried. How is that possible? Well, they say it best:

“Steve knows his stuff, and won’t waste your time or pressure you to sign up for unnecessary retainers and garbage nonsense.”

Working with me means:

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 — you probably already have an automatically generated sitemap and don’t even know it!)

NO Unethical Pricing!

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).

If this were an SEO article, I'd probably put a newsletter opt-in here

But it’s not, so all you get is a link to my Upwork profile:

Pricing & Services

Prices for my most popular services are as follows:
  • SEO “Audit” ($5k)
  • Initial done-for-you SEO optimizations ($10-15k)
  • Training for your SEO / content marketing team ($20k+)
  • Other services: Ask, but 95% of clients just need one of the above

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 not contact form on this site. If you want to hire me, you’ll need to send me an invite on the Upwork platform.

Due to the number of inquiries I get, I automatically decline any canned invites that start with the default “I’d like you to apply to my job”.

To get a response back from me, please take the time to write a personalized message that explains why you want to work together.

What’s special about your company? Why do you deserve to rank #1? The more details the better.

Next Steps

To learn more about me, check out the rest of my Upwork profile (and if you need more general marketing help, click to my main “All work” profile in the top left).

When you’re ready to get in touch, just click the green Invite / Contact button to send an intro message. You won’t be locked into anything — we’ll chat about your project first before starting anything.

This is not a newsletter opt-in

I know it looks like an SEO article, but this is actually my sales page.