Let’s face it, SEO is a fiercely competitive industry, with business owners all seemingly scrambling over the top of each other in an effort to “rank first page in Google” for their target keywords. As a result of this competition, many SEO firms have leaned slightly towards the “dark side” in terms of their marketing strategies as a means to secure more clients.
One particular marketing strategy that some agencies offer is …”Guaranteed SEO”.
Guaranteed SEO is something that has always gotten up my nose, because well… put simply, it’s BS.
It’s dishonest, it’s unethical, and it’s completely misleading. I’ll explain exactly why in this article.
Now before I get into this, there are a few things I want to point out.
1. Many SEO agencies don’t want you to know this.
2. Many SEO agencies won’t appreciate me for publishing this.
3. Many SEO firms will count on business owners being completely clueless (therefore getting away with it).
Now when it comes to guaranteed SEO, many business owners, (especially traditional business owners that run offline businesses) take this liking to the term “guaranteed”. It carries this sort of “fail safe promise”. It seemingly removes any element of risk and ensures the desired result. In a sense it puts all the responsibility back on the agency.
Actually, I can understand why many business owners are taken by this marketing strategy because most are clueless about SEO. I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense, but it’s true. Very few know anything about it, most don’t understand it, some don’t care to – but almost all know they need it.
With this in mind, there’s always an element of uncertainty and doubt that leads to fear. This fear is usually driven by the simple fact that –
a) SEO is not cheap.
b) Many business owners have heard stories of others being ripped off by agencies.
c) Unlike many other services, SEO is not necessarily tangible – you can’t really “see” what’s getting done.
When there’s an element of doubt or uncertainty in a transaction, this introduces potential objections, (or hesitations) and these can often complicate the sales process. No business wants a complicated sales process. So as a way around this, (and of course as a selling advantage over other agencies) many SEO firms have adopted the “guaranteed seo” sales model. Sounds all warm n fuzzy doesn’t it?
Guaranteeing results might seem all fine and dandy, and it might even make the business owner feel better about the decision they’ve made, but it means little in terms of actual benefits.
Let’s say for instance that Carl has a yard care business and he wants to rank for the following terms within Google.
- Lawn mowing
- Lawn care
- Rubbish removal
- Tree lopping
- Garden care
- Lawn cutting
…and so on.
In addition to this keyword list, Carl also understands the importance of showing up in Google for the areas he services. So as well as the keywords above, he would also like to rank for these terms.
- Lawn mowing Pearl Beach
- Rubbish removal in Woy Woy
- Central Coast garden care
- Lawn cutting and yard maintenance Umina
- Garden maintenance Patonga
Makes sense right? He services those areas, so why not rank for them. It certainly makes sense to Carl. But what doesn’t make sense is what many SEO companies fail to tell him.
Any SEO agency that is offering “guaranteed results” will automatically use a sales pitch that goes something like this…
- “We guarantee to rank you for 50% of your keywords by the end of the campaign”.
- “You will get a full refund if we fail to rank at least 60% of your keywords within X months”.
- “We will work for free if we can’t rank you for at least 60% of your keywords”
Sounds good doesn’t it?
This implies that you know for certain that at least 50 or 60% of the keywords chosen will rank first page in Google, or you’ll get your money back or they’ll continue to work for nothing. I can hear you right now saying, “Shut up and take my money”.
What a lot of SEO firms don’t tell you, is that the keywords most likely to rank are going to be pretty much worthless, and the remaining percentage are most likely going to be the keywords that are actually worth ranking for.
What does this mean?
Let’s revisit the keywords used above, and in particular let’s look at search volume. For those that don’t know, search volume simply means “how often per month each of these terms are actually being searched for”. NOTE – Be mindful that these are merely examples only.
Out of interest, I actually put these keywords into the Google Keyword Planner and this is how they look.
As you can see, the lower half of keywords on that list indicates no search volume at all – which means, essentially that those keywords are ABSOLUTELY USELESS. This is where many SEO firms fail to tell you that, and simply rack em up, let them fall and then say they’ve “done their job.”
In essence, by the end of the campaign, and after you’ve invested several thousand dollars …
a) They’ve fulfilled their part of the deal
b) You have your (useless) 50% of keywords ranked
c) You’ve been shafted
The 50% that you now have ranked in Google, are most likely low search volume keywords that are only going to bring you a handful of enquiries each month. This means that you’ll be sitting by the phone waiting (and wondering) why on earth it’s not ringing.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Google themselves says to “stay away” from SEO companies that offer “guarantees” or thinly clad “warrantees”. Here is what Google say…
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, 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.
So what’s the solution?
Before you hire an SEO firm, take into consideration the following….
- Avoid firms or agencies that promote guarantees. It’s total rubbish. No one knows Google’s algorithm except Google.
- Understand the keywords that have been chosen for your campaign and make sure they’re worth ranking for.
- Avoid any other slimy sales pitch that agencies might try to use to “sell you”.
In summary, avoid SEO firms that use unethical sales tactics. As I said above, they’re completely misleading and won’t help better your business in any way.
For more information about SEO guarantees, take a read of this great article, written by Rand Fishkin of MOZ.
Be sure to leave a comment below.