A couple of weeks ago, I visited one of the Internet Marketing/Small Business forums that I’m a member of, and noticed a new member had posted a typical newbie question in the SEO forum. The member wanted to know how she could be guaranteed to get her website on the first page of Google. As usual, members came crawling out of the woodwork with advice – including members who didn’t even own a website.
Unfortunately, that’s pretty typical on Internet Marketing/Small Business forums… members who don’t own a website instructing other members how to get on the first page of Google… members who don’t own a business dispensing business advice. So be careful where you get your advice from… but I digress.
Not surprisingly, not a single member responded with the correct answer. And what is the correct answer? The correct answer is there is NO magic bullet that will assure a first page ranking on Google. Never has been, never will be. By the same token, NO reputable SEO company will promise first page rankings.
By the way, this isn’t the first time I’ve written about this topic. In my article How to Choose a Reputable SEO Company ), I wrote the following:
“No SEO company can guarantee you a first page or top 10 ranking. I repeat: NO SEO company can guarantee you a first page or top 10 ranking. Here’s why: There are far too many variables involved in the ranking of a website – not the least of which are the age of the domain, relevancy and quantity of content, number and quality of inbound links, competition, and of course Google’s ever-changing algorithms. That’s why legitimate SEO companies don’t make those kinds of outlandish promises.”
Why Reputable SEO Companies Don’t Promise Guaranteed Search Engine Rankings
In other words, it’s impossible to promise something which you have no control over. But don’t take my word for it… this is what Google itself has to say about the matter:
“Beware of SEO’s that claim to guarantee rankings.” (Source: Google Webmaster Tools)
Wow…that statement is about as succinct as it gets.
In his article, Why Reputable SEO Firms Don’t Promise Guaranteed Search Engine Rankings, prominent SEO expert, Rand Fishkin writes:
“From 1996 through to today, SEO scams have used ‘guaranteed rankings and traffic’ as a slimy catchphrase to lure in gullible buyers with too-good-to-be-true promises. That association has stained the entire industry. SEO’s cannot control the search results the way FedEx can control shipping packages or Coca Cola can guarantee the taste of their beverage. The search engines alone are responsible for, and privy to the rankings’ methodologies.
There are times when I would be willing to gamble a large amount of money on the fact that we could achieve a certain ranking for a given keyword. However, that’s not the same as a guarantee. A guarantee is a promise – a basic contract that necessarily creates an assumption of certainty by the deliverer to the recipient. Anytime you cheat on that logic and make a promise outside your sphere of direct control, you’re walking on shaky ethical and business ground.”
Now think about that for a minute. If one of the most reputable and prominent SEO experts on the planet isn’t willing to guarantee rankings, what does that tell you about the validity of guaranteed search rankings claims?
Are There Any Exceptions?
Yes, there are always exceptions. For example, Dental SEO, The Visible Dentist is one of those companies that guarantees first page rankings. Their guarantee states:
“The dentist does not pay for SEO services until their website is favorably positioned in a major search engine. Major search engines include Google, Yahoo, MSN’s Bing and Ask. Our exclusive promise specifically guarantees that the client’s dental website will have high visibility in one or more of these popular search engines. Further, a minimum of twenty (20) positions on Google’s 1st page results will be attained before payment is required.
This warranty is made without absolute assurances to search engine positioning. The reason positions cannot be absolutely guaranteed is because no one has control of a search engine’s algorithms, nor control over the many websites coming online every day. However, all work on the client’s site will be performed according to specs and to the best of our ability. If desired ranking is not achieved, no payment will be due from the client.”
Personally, I don’t have a problem with that type of promise. The company is basically putting their money where their mouth is. They’re willing to prove their competency and assure results before the client pays a dime. This eliminates any and all risk for the client. If more SEO companies did business that way, the industry as a whole wouldn’t have such a bad reputation.
All that being said, even if no money is required upfront, you still need to do your due diligence and check things out carefully.
SEO Scam Artists
If all SEO companies competently applied their craft and performed the service they were paid to perform, articles like this one wouldn’t be necessary. But as long as there are incompetent SEO scam artists who intentionally take people’s hard-earned money without doing what they promised… I will continue to warn people about the problem.
Unscrupulous SEO companies that promise first page rankings aren’t stupid, but they think you are. In fact, they’re counting on your naivety, gullibility and yes… laziness. Because the truth of the matter is there are millions of people out there who would much rather put their faith and trust in leprechauns, magic pills and guaranteed rankings, than put in the time and hard work necessary to achieve the desired results. That’s the way it is, and that’s the way it’s always been – even before the advent of the Internet.
The Power OF A Strong Guarantee
Like I said, the SEO companies making guaranteed ranking claims aren’t stupid. In addition to counting on your naivety, gullibility and laziness, they’re also pretty astute marketers – well aware of the power of a strong “guarantee.” Like all smart marketers, they read books and articles about ways to boost their sales – like this article by copywriting expert Dean Rieck:
“You can write all the selling copy you want about how you’re the best, offer great quality, and include lots of great content. However, it’s all for nothing if your potential buyers have any doubts.
Doubt creates hesitation. Hesitation kills sales.
The answer? You have to reduce the perceived risk people feel so there is no hesitation to take you up on your offer.
And that’s the key – risk reduction.
With a guarantee, they feel confident that they won’t be stuck with their purchase. And the very act of offering a strong guarantee lets buyers know you really believe the product is worth its asking price.” (Source: How to Boost Your Sales with a Strong Guarantee)
If It’s Too Good To Be True…
In other words, psychologically, a guarantee eliminates the risk in the minds of buyers. A guarantee lowers their guard and makes them much more willing to take a chance on your offer – even when your offer sounds too good to be true. And you know what they say about something that sounds too good to be true…
“Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” – Carol Rees
Over the years, listening to that “little internal voice” has served me well. The times I ignored that little voice is when I’ve gotten into trouble. Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, walk away.
In a perfect world, we would be able take SEO companies at face value without being suspicious. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, so be suspicious. Be very suspicious… The money, time and aggravation you save, may be your own!
David Jackson is a marketing consultant and the owner of Free-Marketing-Tips-Blog.com – Powerful, free marketing tips to help grow your business! http://free-marketing-tips-blog.com