Two things in life are guaranteed death and taxes. Oh and miserable Dallas summers. Notice, guaranteed google page 1 ranking is not one of them.
A top ranking in Google search results is the Holy Grail of digital marketing. Business owners all want to beat out the competition. Since ranking for any keyword poses a potentially significant reward, it is natural to seek a quick fix.
Just because it is natural doesn’t mean it is a good idea. You want to succeed, but when SEO services make promises things become problematic. I take a dim view of them because I know what the issues are.
You may not – but I am here to help. First, let’s see what Google has to say.
What are Guaranteed Search Engine Rankings?
Let’s start by defining our terms. A guaranteed SEO service makes promises regarding your search rank. For example, it might:
Promise to get your website to the top of Google’s SERP for a keyword
Promise to get your website into Google’s coveted local search three-pack
Guarantee rankings or improve visibility on individual keywords
Promise to move your site X number of spots on the SERP
You get the idea, I hope. Any company that makes these promises is a guaranteed SEO service. I understand why they are attractive and used as a marketing campaign tactic in the industry.
However, attractive offers are not always what they seem to be. That is true of guaranteed SEO rankings. They are making promises they cannot possibly keep. And, even worse, using one can cause all kinds of trouble.
I am going to explain five of the reasons I recommend against them. I will also share some red flags to look for.
In simple terms, they have a bunch of low-quality links. Yes, 7,910 links for a grand traffic value of $1,800 for the entire website. Wait, I thought these were experts?
Let’s see how the new keyword targets are coming along.
Hey, they are ranking 35 for a term with 20 searches a month! You get the point. Is this a company you want to hire?
The first thing you should know is that guaranteed results do not work. They have a horrible history. A quick read of online reviews will tell you that.
The reason they do not work is that they are making a promise that’s not valid. They cannot promise results because nobody can. Hitting the sweet spot on Google is like hitting a moving target.
I think of the old saying. It says, “If something seems to good to be true, it is.” That is true when it comes to ranking guarantees. They seem enticing because they are designed to feel that way. However, if you dig just a little beneath the surface, you will see that there’s nothing to them.
Anytime you try a product or service; you should look at its track record. Search engine promises have a terrible track record. That should tell you something. Also, if the SEO prices seem too good to be true, they are, period. Low cost SEO services are cheap for a reason.
Google Has Warned Against This Practice
Google has a long history of policing SEO tactics. They are quick to penalize sites that don’t adhere to the guidelines. And, their guidelines go into a lot of detail. They ensure that people cannot get away with unscrupulous practices for long.
One of the things Google prohibits is the use of any search engine optimization that uses “black hat” techniques. Since many SEO guarantees use them, we can read between the lines. One thing Google mentions is this:
Beware of internet marketers that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google.
Always ask them, How Long Does it Take to Rank In Google?
It is a trick question, but if they give you an unrealistic time frame, move on.
Top search results are determined by Google’s current algorithm. No outside SEO companies can predict what it will do. In fact, all any digital marketer can do is use their knowledge about what will work based on experience and best practices.
Search Rankings Are Inherently Unstable
Anyone involved in digital marketing can tell you that Google search results change. They change all the time. Some sites may stay near the top, but they are usually huge companies. No small retailer can compete with Amazon, for example.
In fact, the one thing we know for sure about Google is that their algorithm is always changing. Websites rankings change all the time too. Google prioritizes content, user experience, links above everything else.
The instability of rankings makes search engine optimization guarantees seem silly. If rankings change all the time, how can anyone make a promise about them?
The short answer is that they cannot. Nobody can.
Where you Rank is Not the Only Metric or KPI
When you measure your profits, does your Google rank factor into the equation? No, it does not. And, that points to a problem with SEO guarantees.
You can rank first for some keywords and still stagnate. Some companies at the top of Google’s SERP might perform very well, while others might not.
In other words, an SEO guarantee cannot deliver what you really want: results. You might move onto the first page and call that a win. But is it a victory if you do not earn more money, too? A number one rank on Google means nothing if it does not get you more traffic to your website, leads generated, and sales.
Guaranteeing a Google Result is Unethical
Most of us know a scam when we see one. When a product promises to help us lose 20 pounds in a week, we are skeptical. And we should be because no product can deliver on that promise.
The bottom line is that this practice is not ethical. That is because they know they do not have Google’s algorithm figured out. Many of the people who work at Google do not know everything about it.
Why would you want to do business with someone who’s lying to you? No reputable company would make promises of a specific ranking in Google.
Beware of These Red Flags Before Starting your SEO Campaign
SEO guarantees are not a good idea, but do you know how to spot an unscrupulous company?
Not all bad-faith agencices use guarantees to lure clients. Some simply hint at promises they cannot keep.
When you are considering a search engine optimization company, there are red flags to look for.
Here are some to keep in mind.
1. They Claim Inside Knowledge of Google
This first red flag is a common one. What could be more appealing than having an insider on your team? If anyone had inside knowledge, they would be beating clients off with a stick and living in a palatial estate.
The problem is, nobody on the outside has inside knowledge. Google’s algorithm is proprietary. Occasionally, the company releases information. Its recent announcements regarding RankBrain are an example.
Very few people who work at Google have “inside knowledge” about the algorithm. It is a closely-guarded secret. Anybody who claims to have the scoop is misleading you.
2. They are Secretive About The Tactics They Use
When you pay for a service, you should expect honesty about it. It is common for unscrupulous SEO’s to offer minimal information about what they do and simply send you white label SEO reports. You need full disclosure before you commit. Strategies should be transparent and documented
The main reason for this is that you are responsible for what work is done on your behalf. If they create poor backlinks or engage in black hat activities, it can hurt you. You could even be removed from Google’s index!
It is not worth the risk. Ask what the company does, and get it in writing. Anything that doesn’t adhere to Google’s guidelines is something you should avoid.
3. Their Contract Does not Specify Services Provided
Some shady online marketers promise to get you on the first page of the search engines. Then, you find out that they are not improving your organic search rank. They are ranking you for a useless long tail keyword that will drive no real customers.
You need to know what your money is paying for. If it is unclear, ask questions. In the next section, I will provide you with some fundamental questions to ask.
Your contract must be easy to understand, and specific. Unscrupulous companies sometimes use confusing language and vague promises. Don’t fall for them.
4. Watch out for Low-Quality Links
Their focus should be on building high-quality links that will help you build authority.
Your goal should be building organic links, not buying or trading them. A link from a shady site is not going to help you.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring an SEO Team
How can you protect yourself from hiring an unscrupulous SEO?
The red flags listed above can help, but asking questions is a must to separate the pretenders from an expert.
Here are some questions I recommend.
Can I see examples of your work, such as case studies?
Can you provide references? (Make sure to verify the references independently. Sometimes, shady people will give you a friend’s phone number. Look up the number online. Call the primary number and ask for the reference by name.)
Do you follow the Google guidelines for 2018? (A “no” or any hedging is a huge red flag. Don’t hire anyone who does not answer with a firm “yes.”)
What’s your experience in my industry/niche/country/city? (You want someone who knows your business, not someone who’s starting from scratch.)
Have you ever had a client incur a Google penalty?
What SEO techniques do you use? They should mention keyword analysis and research, google analytics, user experience, content marketing, and natural link building as the most important things. We know that Google prioritizes those.
What results can I expect, and in what timeframe? (Here, you are looking for a list of measurable results. ROI, conversion rate optimization, buyer intent organic search traffic, and lead generation are the most important.)
Should I be concerned with social media marketing?