Recently I received an email from a client asking me if we can offer the same guarantees that are included in an email they received.
You know the type of emails I’m talking about…the ones that say something like “guaranteed top positions in Google,” “guaranteed results,” “guaranteed SEO rankings.” Or perhaps they go so far as to say (as this one did) “guarantee that organic traffic and pageviews from search engines will increase,” that you’ll see “an increase in new site visitors from search engines” and “improved overall rankings for targeted keywords and phrases.”
As I replied to this client…
SEOs offering guarantees is about as old as SEO itself.
Do you want me to dig into this?
No SEO can legitimately offer a guarantee. And they do this guarantee before they know whether or not the Website/owner has their own domain (perhaps it’s a Mary Kay affiliate with duplicate pages on the Mark Kay domain that they don’t even control?) or whether or not they have more than one Web page (and are able to add content?) or if they have any links at all?.
This is complete BS. Always has been…always will be.
I can honestly tell you that I walk away from a lot more SEO prospects/opportunities than I accept. By “a lot” I mean “a lot a lot.” Like, perhaps 80% of the prospects that I speak with.
If SEO were so easy, do you think Google would be a very good search engine and deliver such good results? Absolutely not.
Nowadays, search engine optimization – when done well – is a component of “good marketing.” To get a Website to rank in the search engines is an effort that, for some, is not something that can be ROI positive in the short term. You may need to build a ton of good/resourceful/unique content, promote your company/Website for many months via many channels (press releases, social media, guest blog posting, other PR/mentions of the company, etc.) before you gain the traction necessary to EARN your organic/natural presence in the search engines.
For some SEO simply isn’t possible because, as noted above, they don’t even control their own Website, own their own domain or have the ability to add any pages of content.
I have accepted work on brand-new Websites just getting started, but I cautioned the Website owners/my clients…this is gonna take some time and a lot of content/link building, etc. (all the stuff noted above)… in other words: it’s gonna take work. I made sure that they were realistic as to what may be able to be achieved and “when” (truth told, no one can say with any degree of accuracy exactly “when” but we try to set expectations appropriately).
As for this company that sent out this – well, there’s no other description for it – “SPAM solicitation!” I checked their site on SEMRush and they’re getting a whopping $65.00 per month “worth of” organic traffic to their site. In other words, they’re not doing very well in the search engines themselves. And to make matters worse, I checked out their company on LinkedIn and – as best I can tell – they don’t even have an SEO on staff (?)
Now, I can’t “guarantee” that’s the case (perhaps every single one of their SEOs either hasn’t updated their profile to include this company or they simply don’t use LinkedIn? but it sure looks suspicious…about as suspicious as their email, in my humble opinion. There’s no staff page on their Website, so take from that what you will.
Everyone wants a guarantee or warranty. I get it. But…
The thing is SEOs only control so much. Google’s sudden change in algorithm is not one of them. Competitor efforts are not on the list either. It’s not as if you’re buying a product that could be defective (unless you’re ordering search engine optimization services from a company that, apparently, doesn’t even employ an SEO?…I’m just sayin’).
I could certainly try and guarantee something for a large brand/retailer which already has a bazillion pages to their site and links from CNN, WSJ, and every other incredibly authoritative Website known to man. But, truth told, does the guarantee go both ways? Am I guaranteed that someone in IT over at this company isn’t gonna mess something up? Am I guaranteed that they’ll actually implement the recommendations that are made, in a timely manner? Even then, am I guaranteed that something “dramatic” might happen with Google’s algorithm that totally changes the game?
SEOs are humans with limited control. If you want a guarantee, buy some PPC ads. That way you’re “guaranteed” to pay for the clicks that you actually get. Not trying to sound cynical, but I am – to a fault – honest and candid. It’s that whole human thing. I’d rather turn down 80% of prospects than “guarantee” something I clearly cannot. I’d much rather sleep soundly at night.