Why Is SEO Always Free?

I guess it is the way of cyber space, everything must be free otherwise it’s not worth bothering with.

It is a fact that there is a lot of information online and more specifically a lot of quality information; however does that mean you can find everything you need to know about SEO free?

Well actually, yes. Everything you need to know about SEO is free, you can read this blog and numerous others all offering good, however slightly different SEO advice.

Implementing SEO? This does cost, in one way or another, whether youโ€™re a blogger, online entrepreneur or internet marketer, you will find yourself in a position where you have to invest in your online interests.

There are those who become involved in blogging and social media for kicks, but I’ll continue with this post with “making money” in mind, whether that be through a business, a blog or any other venture that requires search engine traffic.

Let me run by three different scenarios and if youโ€™re trying to build a successful website you will probably fall into one of these;

All scenarios are based on those trying to make money from their websites

Scenario One – Quality Resource Approach

You have a website and decided to go down the “quality resource wins all” route. You spend money on web design and pretty graphics, you dive into twitter, stumble and digg in order to raise interest in your brand and product. The traffic comes in slowly, if your product is excellent it will eventually pay dividends. If you are a blogger going down this route you may submit pages to social sites regularly, guest blog and maybe even pay for a little advertising. If you are a good writer or have a hot product you will no doubt see a lot of traffic, if your writing skills aren’t up to scratch or your product is outdated then you may as well not exist.

Even those with a great product or excellent writing skills can still find themselves a year or so later with little or no traffic.

Scenario Two – It’s all a matter of time

There are those that believe in the power of search engine optimisation and decide to use it to promote their pages. They find the right keywords and optimise their pages, they slowly build quality unique content, submit to the odd article directory and make multiple blog comments, even on no follow blogs in the hope of a quality backlink.

Now if the niche targeted is not competitive the people in this bucket may see a little success, however if they are targeting competitive phrases they will always be lagging behind those who are willing to invest.

Scenario Three – I will stand on top of Google

Finally there are those who believe driving search engine traffic to their pages is the make or break of their business model and go all out to lead the pack. They believe in the power of SEO so much that they are willing to invest in this belief. They will pay for link analysis software, rank tracking, keyword research, article and press release submissions and link building. All groups are willing to invest time but this group are willing to make a real monetary investment in their belief that they can dominate Google.

In my opinion these are the ones who win in competitive niches, the ones you see dominating Google.

In every scenario nothing is free, unless you class your time and energy as a free commodity.

The difference between those who do and those don’t is simple. Those who do, believe in their venture to such a degree that they are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

I know there are those who say “all you need is a free wordpress blog and you can make a ton of cash” this is so untrue on many levels;

– You need the right niche
– You need an effective marketing plan
– You need to know SEO (at least the basics)

I remember Darren Rowse at problogger commenting on how he used pay per click in the early days of his blog to drive traffic and many many more have done the same, including the famous John Chow. They are where they are because they have made an investment that goes beyond their time.

I’m Not Selling Anything

I am not leading up to some big sell, don’t worry. I am simply trying to convey the reality of being successful online, there is no one that gets where they want to be without paying for it in one way or another and in my opinion it requires more than your time.

What do I need to carry out successful SEO?

If you are targeting a competitive niche and you really want to sit with the big boys you need to do as they do.

I am not going to recommend any particular products, not yet anyway but am going to try and point you in the right direction.

Link Analysis

In my opinion anyone serious about SEO needs to invest in quality link analysis. Yes I know there are free ones out there but none I have tried have given me what I need to carry out a successful link campaign. I need to know the PageRank of the page the links are coming from, the title tag, whether or not the links are followed, what they are anchored with etc….


Now you can have a successful SEO campaign on a free hosted blog, however I have an issue with this and that is you are creating something that you never actually own. When you register a domain and host it you are building something that you own the rights to, so investing in a domain and hosting is a must.


You need backlinks to rank, plain and simple. Now I am going to be very careful talking about investment and backlinks in the same sentence as I don’t want to stir up any trouble for myself, but the truth is there isn’t a site sitting at the top of Google that has not invested in some sort of link building strategy or software.

I am not talking about spamming here, that is a big NO NO, I am not even talking about buying links (even though many of the top sites do) I am talking about networks that will help you generate natural editorial links.

Article Marketer – This system publishes your articles to thousands of directories that all help to generate backlinks to your site. I use and have used it many times, however I have moved on and found a better way of creating links. Still use it in the early days of your sites to get on the grid, but I now recommend using it for no more than 6 months.

My Article Network – This works in a very similar way to article marketer except the sites are anonymous and the links are in the actual article not the author box. If I were to publish articles anywhere it would be here.

Backlink Solutions – Simple network where you write posts that are distributed throughout a blog network. There are many networks like this, it works similar to articles, content for a link. My only issue with this system is that a lot of the blogs in the network are not 100% indexed and therefore some of the links drop off the grid.

Linkvana – This again is a blog network system, the difference in my opinion to backlink solutions is that the blogs where the content is submitted to are of far greater quality. All content on the blogs is 100% unique and therefore indexed, a lot of the blogs in the network are PR5 and even I noticed a PR6 link just a few weeks ago. If you really want to invest this system is a must have.

Now I didn’t link back to these tools as I didn’t want anyone to think I was simply trying to sell them products, all these work and are not cheap. Obviously like any product the more you pay the better the results, if you decide not to use tools such as the ones mentioned then you will be left behind by those that do.

By all means create a quality site, that is what the internet is all about, but promote your site at the same time. If your blog/website is worth enough for you to invest hours and hours every week then surely a small money investment is not too much to ask.

As I say whether you take my advice or not that is up to you, the ones that do – I’ll see you at the top of Mount Google ๐Ÿ™‚

People SEO advice is FREE, but implementing SEO is not FREE and the results you get will ultimately depend on the price you’ve paid.


is the CEO of Branded3 a Search Marketing Agency in the UK. Tim has over a decade of experience in Search and regularly speaks at key events and conferences.

5 thoughts on “Why Is SEO Always Free?

  1. Great article. I will be checking into the items mentioned above. I also see what you are talking about with the “FREE” mentality of many people out there. I am actually finishing up an article similar to this about the “FREE” mentality for the web design world. Many times, as you already know, you get what you pay for!

    Great job!

  2. Hi Luke,

    The free mentality is just something that is part and parcel of the internet, those that are winning on the internet are those who are investing. Thanks for stopping by ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Tim,
    Excellent insights and a post I wish I had read 18 months ago ๐Ÿ˜‰ You are right on the money with the point about investing. Some excellent suggestions on resources for building backlinks and I have used a couple of them.

    With regard to not knowing what blogs or directories your posts are going to you still have the ability to tracks some of these through tools like Google Alerts and any resource that will list your backlinks (Google Webmaster, Yahoo Site Explore, Bing Webmaster, etc.). So the distribution of your content it never completely anonymous.

    It sounds like you feel Linkvana is a better option than Banklink Solutions? It seems like Backlink Solutions has also had some operational challenges recently.

    Good point from Luke Dubay above in that the old saying of “you get what you pay for” is true, even on the Web.

  4. Hi Mike,

    Google alerts is pretty good and the content that shows on here as usually been indexed, this is partly how I worked out the linkvana links were slightly better quality. It is a game of smart investment, SEO is not so much about staying on top of the latest news but staying on top of what works.

    I’ll email you about the backlink solutions vs linkvana (hope no one thinks I am being secretive I just like to discuss these kind of things over email and am happy for anyone who has any questions to email me direct).

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