Before hiring a search engine optimization company it’s important to understand what the company can and can’t do for your website. But most of all, not to be taken in by false promises. Here’s what you need to know about SEO guarantees.

Sleazy SEO Guarantees Salesman

Be wary of sleezy SEO ranking guarantees

In every industry, there’s a dark side. Both individuals and companies alike who fill their clients ears with confusing technical jargon, misleading information (or not enough information), and just flat-out lies. And, unfortunately, the search engine optimization field is no different. Which is one of the biggest reasons why SEO’s have been called the used car salesman of the Internet.

So today we’re going to cover SEO guarantees and the promises that many so-called “professional SEOs” use in order to make a sale — whether the end result helps your website or not.

Before getting started, if you missed Part 1 of our Learn Basic SEO series, you might want to read that first.

What You Need To Know About SEO Guarantees

First of all, It’s impossible for anyone to guarantee you a particular organic ranking on any search engine.

Let me repeat that. It’s impossible for anyone to guarantee your website will get a specific page listing (or number one search result) on any search engine’s organic search results.

Here’s a couple SEO terms you need to be familiar with;

Organic search results. The placement of website within the search engine results based on a search engines algorithm. Search engines do not charge fee for this.

Paid search results. Commonly called Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising where you pay a fee to have an ad placed into the search results pages. On Google, these are the ads seen at the top of the search results and on the right side of the page.

SEO Guarantees: The Small Print

I’ve studied guarantees from many search optimization companies and they’re usually contaminated with one or more of the following:

  • SEO guarantees are fulfilled even if your site ranks for obscure or undefined set of keywords your site would rank with anyway. However, since few people are searching with these keywords, you don’t receive any significant traffic to your site.
  • SEO guarantees are fulfilled even if your site ranks on obscure or unknown search engines with a small database which, again, doesn’t result in traffic.
  • SEO guarantees that appear sensible but are actually highly conditional, giving plenty of leeway to the SEO provider.
  • The SEO provider is unavailable when you want to ‘encash’ their unconditional, money-back guarantees, often operating with fake email addresses. Note: Never hire an SEO firm who solicits your business via an unrequested email – specially if it’s from a free email account.
  • Deploy unethical or search engine banned techniques (also known as “Blackhat SEO”), which may get your site ranked highly for a brief period but will eventually get your site banned from search engines permanently.

If you’re coming across such guarantees, be cautious, and carefully read and understand exactly what the SEO company is going to deliver, in what time frame, and for how much money. Remember, it isn’t possible to guarantee ranking’s on search engines.

Hopefully I’ve said that enough times for it to really sink in. But just in case it hasn’t, Google (and most other search engines) clearly state this on their website. Here’s an excerpt from this Google page.

No one can guarantee you a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee ranking’s, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.

Google also suggests some useful questions to ask an SEO. Here are the top five. I suggest reading the entire page here.

Questions to Ask a SEO Company

  • Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
  • Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
  • Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
  • What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what time-frame? How do you measure your success?
  • What’s your experience in my industry?
  • More listed here

Placement v. Ranking

You should also be cautious of sales calls promising you first page placement on Google. Notice I said “placement” and not “ranking”. The difference is that “ranking” refers to organic search results and “placement” refers to paid advertising.

As an example, here’s a recent phone message I received from a “Google data service provider” offering me first page placement. And, of course, they tried to lure me in with a bogus “only a few spots available” sales tactic.

Click the arrow to play

Transcript
Hi, this is Aaron. Data service provider for Google. Wanted to give you guys a call because we had a pretty awesome opportunity for you there in your marketplace. Locally, we have some openings on the front page of Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. So I wanted to touch base with you see there was any interest as far as getting your website and business on the first page of these search engines. You can reach me toll free here. The number is 866-XXX-XXXX. We would be happy to answer any questions that you have. But again, call me as soon as you can if you are interested because we do only have a couple of spots open. Again, this is for the front page, first page, of Google, Yahoo!, and Bing there in your market. Again, the number is 866-XXX-XXXX.

Here’s what they’re not telling you;

  • ANYONE can get first page placement simply by using PPC ads. And ANYONE can get listed in the very top position simply by out bidding everyone else.
  • They’ll charge you as much as 5x more to place the ads for you
  • The keywords they use most likely won’t be as focused as they should be. So, although you may get traffic from the ads, they won’t convert into sales.
  • PPC ads are only one-half of the equation. In order to convert traffic from PPC ads into sales, it’s best to have a dedicated landing page created just for those ads. Having PPC traffic sent to your homepage is the worse thing you can do.
  • Google is constantly offering $50 and $100 in free Google AdWords advertising. They even set up your first campaign for free.

What We’ve Learned

  • Before hiring an SEO company make sure to do your due diligence. Research the company, read case studies of previous work they’ve completed, and get testimonials from previous clients.
  • If an SEO consultant promises you first page organic listing on any search engine, walk away and look for another company to work with.
  • Make sure your SEO company does the proper keyword research based specifically on your website and target audience.
  • Make sure you have realistic expectations. Getting your website to display in the top organic listings in Google (and other search engines) takes time and a lot of effort. It won’t happen overnight.

In part three, How to optimize website page titles, I’ll talk about the importance of being unique and how it helps SEO and attracting more readers to your website. In the meantime, feel free to review our SEO Code of Ethics.