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3 Common SEO Guarantees That Need Warning Signs

October 18, 2012

Recently we had an enquiry as to whether we offered SEO guarantees and keyword performance based pricing schemes. Like hundreds of other reputable SEO companies around the world, we don’t offer or promise SEO Guarantees, provide no-contract SEO Plans or offer keyword performance based pricing schemes.  

Ultimately, in the world of SEO there are simply too many variables to make such promises and guarantees. Companies who do offer SEO guarantees, keyword performance based pricing and SEO plans that don’t require a contract, should all come with big red warning signs. 

We have outlined three common ‘SEO guarantees and promises’ made by such companies, with reasons why caution is warranted. 

1. We guarantee you first page results in Google

First of all, it is important to note that Google provides guidelines related to this, specifically stating that no one can guarantee a number one ranking on Google. Image of man giving the thumbs up  Most SEO companies, who make this guarantee, or first page results guarantees, generally do one of the following:

  • They select and target (on your behalf) poor quality, low volume and low competitive keyword phrases to show ‘first page results’.
  • They utilise paid Google AdWords ads to attain ‘first place positions’ (without distinguishing the difference to their clients of course between organic listings and paid listing.)
  • They report on small and less well known search engines which display page one listings for various keywords.
  • They fall back on their ‘no contract’ clause and say that even though you haven’t seen any improvements in rankings yet, don’t worry, because you don’t have to pay for the past months ‘SEO work’.  

2. We Provide Monthly Keyword Performance Reports

A lot of webmasters are still obsessed about these reports and a lot of new online business owners who don’t know any better assume they’re a good indicator of how well they are doing. Image of man in sun glasses 

However, the reality is not everyone sees the same set of search results for the same search queries at one exact point in time. Search results fluctuate according to various factors such as a user’s location, whether you are logged in to your Google Account and you may get results returned from a different data centre to someone else who is searching using the same keywords. 

The provision of keyword performance reports is an outdated practice with someone at the SEO Company preparing automated or manual spreadsheets showing your visibility in Google for certain keyword phrases. 

As noted above, the keyword phrases generally reported on often include crazy search queries like ‘breakfast cereal with strawberry and blueberry pieces’ and ‘low fat breakfast cereal made from oatmeal’. These search queries don’t actually retain any decent (if any) search volumes so of course your website is going to appear well for them if it’s been optimised for such keyword phrases. If no one, or hardly anyone, is searching upon these keywords to find your website what value is this information to you? 

On a side note, a client of mine recently sent me some ‘performance statistics’ from an online business directory that she was paying to have an enhanced listing with. This ‘enhanced listing’ included being listed prominently across several categories within the directory.  Interestingly, the keyword search queries they used to show their various category listings appearing in Google were just like the examples I provided above. Long winded and highly unlikely to be used by any searcher! Image of man jumping in the air

3. We’ve cracked Google’s Algorithm

No SEO company can say they have cracked Google’s algorithm, no one has access to that kind of information apart from the guys at Google.  

The Google algorithm is constantly updated and tweaked, and with some 200+ factors being considered there is just no way a company can be so bold as to state this.  

Better Use of Your Time and Money  

There are much more reliable measures of performance that website owners should be focused on, or more fundamentally, be made aware of.  There are no quick wins when it comes to SEO, but rather customised and holistic SEO plans that take time to generate results, with the focus being on helping you to achieve your website goals and objectives.    

Visitor traffic to your websites from search engines, as monitored by a program like Google Analytics, is a much more reliable and meaningful measure of website performance then monthly reports containing keyword rankings.  Likewise, conversion data, goal tracking and other user engagement metrics provide true insight into how your SEO is performing and where improvements can be made. Any SEO plan worth paying for will include valuable and actionable performance measures like this. 

So To Summarise:

  • No one can guarantee you a number one ranking in Google.
  •  Relying on keyword positioning in the search results as a key performance metric is dangerous and ignores other valuable KPI metrics.
  • Only the team of Google developers and IT experts know what their Algorithm entails.
  • Your investment of time and money on your website can be better spent. 

With the assistance of a legitimate SEO company you can dedicate your time and money to creating a website that is awesome. A website that meets your customer’s wants and needs, a website that stands out from the crowd and is constantly evolving as a result of insightful visitor, conversion and engagement metrics provided to you on an ongoing basis. 

Look for the warning signs as soon as you hear SEO Guarantees, No-Contract SEO Plans or Keyword Performance Based Pricing Schemes. To get some ideas of where you should be focusing your energy and marketing efforts, check out Aidan Rogers post about Online Marketing in 2012.

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Filed under Digital Marketing

Written by

Jess joined Apex in 2005 after graduating from Massey University with a Bachelor of Business Studies majoring in Marketing. As an Account Manager at Apex, Jess is responsible for the management of a large number of Search Engine Marketing campaigns. Jess is a Google Adwords Qualified Individual managing numerous campaigns for our clients across a broad range of industries and a...

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Reply Aidan Rogers | December 19th, 2012 at 12:00pm
A (rather cranky looking) Matt Cutts did a nice sum up of guaranteed rankings the other day:

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