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Beware of SEO Guarantees

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by | Apr 19, 2013 | Digital Marketing

Have you ever come across an optimization company that guarantees their results?  Be wary of these, as this is a dishonest marketing tactic used to swindle gullible users into purchasing services.  Although most organizations don’t make these claims, it is still important to recognize why this is an unethical promotional tactic.  Listed below are 5 reasons to stay clear of firms that guarantee SEO performance:

Reason #1: SEO Guarantees Have an Awful History

Since the beginning of SEO services, deceitful companies have used the “guarantee” label to lure in prospective clients with too-good-to-be-true promises.  If you take 20 minutes to learn the basics of optimization, you will realize that the following claims are inherently false:

  • Automated software for link exchanges/website submissions (outdated tactics)
  • Guaranteed results FAST (SEO can take months to start showing progress)
  • Guaranteed # of keywords (keywords they themselves choose, which may not even be relevant to your site.  Low-competitive keywords are generally chosen to boost statistics.)

Similar to used car salesmen or time-share opportunities, SEO has its share of high-pressure salespeople and exaggerated claims.  Be sure not to get sucked in by the false idea of an SEO “guarantee”.

Reason #2: Search Engines Warn Against “Guarantees”

Search engines offer some reassurance on this issue.  In Google’s guidelines on search marketing, the phrase is inherently obvious: “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google”.  If you don’t believe me, take it straight from the horse’s mouth.  Don’t be fooled by these claims.

Reason #3: Rankings are Naturally Unstable

Rankings are shifted all the time.  If I were to search the same query here in Fort Collins, then drive to Loveland and repeat the process, the results would be quite different due to the location, machine, etc.  Given the incongruous nature of ranking fluctuations and the fact that ranking in a particular position on a given machine at a single point in time says very little about the future or even the present, it’s no wonder that savvy SEO firms stay away from the guarantee.

Reason #4: Rankings are a Poor Metric for Overall Performance

Rankings do not equal traffic. A great SEO campaign should be measured by the increase in search engine traffic and the rate at which that traffic performs the desired actions on your site. Achieving rankings is (almost) always a means to an end and not the end itself.

Yes – position #1 will generally get you more traffic than any other real estate in the search results, but plenty of campaigns have been sabotaged by an obsession with pure rankings.

The metric should always be traffic – increasing search traffic means the SEO is doing their job. Making the rankings of a few top phrases the priority above and beyond the overall search traffic means that goals are out of whack. Don’t forget that 70% of search volume is in the tail of the demand curve – and there’s usually a lot more low hanging fruit to be found therein.

Reason #5: Ethical Problems

Politicians are constantly under scrutiny for failing to follow through on promises they’ve made.  Similarly, a camera manufacturer cannot guarantee that every picture you take will turn out perfect.  The same principle applies to SEO.

What search engine optimization companies can & should guarantee is that they’ll provide the best advice possible to help your site earn more traffic. They may even guarantee, after reviewing your site, that they can grow your search traffic by at least 10-30% or more.  But, SEOs cannot control the search results the way FedEx can control shipping packages or Coca Cola can guarantee the taste of their beverage. The search engines alone are responsible for and privy to the rankings’ methodologies.

A guarantee is a promise – a basic contract that necessarily creates an assumption of certainty by the deliverer to the recipient. Anytime you cheat on that logic and make a promise outside your sphere of direct control, you’re walking on shaky ethical and business ground.