There is much debate online about guaranteed search engine rankings and there appears to be a war of words between firms that do, and firms that don’t. We like to leave it up to the client to decide on who they would prefer to deal with, but here’s my two cents worth on the subject.
Why is this such an issue?
There is a massive amount of confusion and misinformation out there about Guaranteed rankings, due in part to the three main players in the industry, those who do, those who don’t, and those who pretend they can.
The biggest misunderstanding is that the firms who don’t guarantee results believe that as no SEO firm owns a search engine, they can’t possibly achieve the desired results, therefore the guarantee is worthless, unless a firm uses unethical techniques and the firms who DO guarantee results believe that the firms who don’t are just greedy, lazy and have no confidence in their own abilities.
So who are the main players?
The SEO firms who WILL guarantee their work The SEO firms who WON’T guarantee their work, and The SEO firms who WILL guarantee their work but use unethical or deceptive methods, both in their approach to SEO and in their client acquisition strategy Let’s touch on the last one first.
The firms who will guarantee their work but use unethical methods.
Unfortunately, there ARE many SEO companies who use a client acquisition strategy that is entirely deceptive. They will make sweeping claims about their abilities, offer wild guarantees on their work, and use unethical SEO techniques to ‘trick’ search engines into listing websites higher than they have a right to be. Make no mistake, any SEO firm who uses such unethical techniques WILL do more harm than good. They can effectively have your website banned from Google and other search engines altogether. Unfortunately, they may actually achieve the desired rankings for a little while, in which case they will want payment from the client at this stage. No matter to them if the website gets banned at a later stage; they got the (temporary) results, they got paid, and they are out the door to hit their next target. There is no doubt in ANY firms mind that ‘Black Hat SEO’ (unethical, cheating methods of SEO) are bad. So how do you spot the firms offering Black Hat SEO? Ask them what they intend on doing. If they cannot give you firm, definitive answers, move on. It also pays to contact their clients and ask them. My recommendation is to ask them for the details of a client that they have seo tool group buy performed SEO for as far back as 2 years, who is still a client. That will be a dead giveaway.
What about SEO firms who don’t guarantee results at all?
My opinion is that SEO work is largely considered as money-for-jam if SEO companies are allowed to take money from clients without having to demonstrate any level of success. It is another deceptive client acquisition strategy. They can sprout on about ‘unethical SEO firms offering guarantees’ but at the end of the day, it is because THEY don’t have confidence in their own abilities. If an SEO firm is not prepared to put their money where their mouth is, then perhaps they should find an easier, less demanding line of work. There are many ‘bodies’ that exist to provide a place for SEO companies to gather and spruike their wares, but even these bodies have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of no guarantees. Let’s be clear, ethical SEO firms who DO offer a guarantee are a clear and significant threat to non-guaranteeing SEO companies’ way of life. They threaten the very foundation of easy money for SEO firms.
What about the ethical companies that DO offer Guaranteed SEO?
There are only a handful of these companies at this stage, but as customers become more demanding (ie.. when customers simply want to get what they pay for!), I believe this number will grow considerably. Provided a few criteria are met, then dealing with Guaranteed SEO firms should not be an issue:
- Get references. Speak to their clients, especially long-term ones, and ask THEM how they feel. If an SEO firm won’t give you access to their clients, run a mile; there will be a good reason why they won’t give you references (especially from loyal, long-term customers) Ask them WHAT they will do to improve your rankings. Due to the time-intensive nature of SEO, they should have no fear that a client will simply take their ideas and do it themselves.
- They should have no qualms telling you the specifics of what they are going to do. If a company mentions ‘cloaking’, run a mile. If they mention ‘special tricks’ or something that is ‘secret’, run a mile.
- Find out exactly what the guarantee is for. Most SEO firms will put conditions on their guarantees that are far too ambiguous or too extreme. Ensure that it is as simple as this ‘IF you don’t rank in the top X for such and such keywords in such and such search engines, you don’t pay anything at all’. Also ensure there is a time guarantee (for instance, if the rankings drop out of the guaranteed limits within perhaps 6 months, they must refund the customer)
- Make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the SEO firm has been in business for longer than the guarantee period. We suggest that clients should ensure the company has been in operation for at least 2-3 years. Any less than that and you KNOW that that company cannot produce any references from ‘long-term’ clients.