I’m Harvey from SEO Derby and I’m going to personally explain about guaranteed SEO, why it’s so difficult to offer, why most SEO’s don’t offer guaranteed SEO, and how and why we do it at SEO Derby.
Firstly I’ll explain what SEO guarantees we offer. Then I’ll explain the why, which will be quite a long explanation but well worth the read. So here is our seo guarantee, which is simple and clear to understand.
Our SEO Derby Guaranteed SEO Service
We will offer a guarantee to our SEO services if the client requests us to do so.
We will not guarantee rankings on individual keywords.
We will guarantee that traffic to your website will increase and we guarantee that we will work with you to make your website convert more website visitors into customers or leads.
We will agree the targets that are guaranteed before work commences on your website.
If you have requested guaranteed SEO and we haven’t increased the organic traffic and or conversions on your website by a pre-agreed percentage within 6 months, then we will work for free until we achieve the target.
Why do Guaranteed SEO companies have bad reputations?
There are a lot of reasons why good SEO companies don’t offer guaranteed SEO and bad SEO companies do offer guaranteed SEO. Most quality firms won’t offer this, but we want to do our very best to offer as much a guarantee as it’s possible to do. I believe our guarantee is a strong one which guarantees the things which are important.
As a client you want to get value for money. You want a guaranteed return on your investment. If you spend £1,000 per month on search engine optimisation, you want to know that you will bring in more than £1,000 per month from extra sales and business. As an SEO company we want to deliver that value for money, and we do. The problem is that clients (naturally) are concerned about rankings as the only metric of importance. As website optimisers we know that rankings for individual keywords aren’t the most important thing. I know that nobody can absolutely guarantee a ranking for a particular commercial keyword, especially a number 1 ranking in Google. That doesn’t mean to say that we can’t achieve that number 1 ranking, just that it would be completely unethical to guarantee it.
I’m now going to provide a handy list of reasons why guaranteeing rankings is a very bad idea. Keep these in mind if you talk to a company offering guaranteed SEO rankings. This will be a pretty detailed list, but will explain exactly why you need to be very careful with what you agree with any SEO company.
Problems with Guaranteed SEO
Backlinks are still a major part of the Google algorithm. A good ‘white hat’ SEO’s job is to help the client to make the website and its content as good as it possibly can be, and thus to naturally attract links to such great content. Of course great content sometimes needs a push and the job of the SEO is to promote that content to potential link partners who may like to link to that content for the benefit of the readers of their website. This is the slower but sustainable, safe, and ethical road to good website rankings.
There are however other ways to ‘build links’ which are less ethical, and these are known as black hat SEO strategies. Call it the dark side of the force, if you like Star Wars analogies. Black hat SEO strategies do work and they sometimes work very quickly. They often don’t last very long and can quickly lead to the website being given a penalty and no longer ranking for any keyword. Now think of the company that has offered to guarantee the ranking for a particular keyword and if they don’t achieve it soon they will have to refund you. The temptation would likely be too strong to not use these ‘brute force’ techniques. They will have achieved what they agreed with you, but your website, your business, and the jobs of your staff may all have been put in jeopardy. This is obviously not good, and that’s why we never guarantee individual keywords.
2) Keywords used as part of the guarantee
Most keywords have very little traffic. Quite often some keywords that you would assume are searched for lots actually aren’t. The SEO has access to keyword research tools and data and it’s all too easy to guarantee keywords that have little traffic and are very easy to rank for. I’ll guarantee that I’ll be number 1 in Google for the following phrase:
The red cow from the moon who ate the pickled cowboy
Being number 1 for that phrase is completely worthless, but very easy. All I had to do was type it into this webpage. Of course that’s a made up example which is way over the top, but I hope you take my point.
Anybody can guarantee easy keywords, but for commercial keywords with buying intent (the keywords you do want to rank for!) it’s not so easy. There are only 10 spots on the 1st page and perhaps all 10 competitors are using a guaranteed SEO service. I’ve been to an SEO pitch from another company with a client where the client was guaranteed he would rank for completely worthless keywords.
3) The algorithm is always changing
Google updates its algorithm, or ranking criteria, hundreds of times per year. What worked last year may get you a ranking penalty this year! Nobody outside of Google fully understands the algorithm and anybody who claims to do so, frankly is a liar. The Panda and Penguin updates have clearly shown us how big changes can come at unexpected times. Offering guarantees for individual keywords in a completely white hat way is clearly not possible. Nobody knows what is around the corner.
4) It’s about conversions not rankings anyway!
Clients always seem to be concerned about rankings. Think about this for a minute. Why do you want rankings? You want rankings so that more people visit the website so that there’s a greater chance to convert those visits into sales or leads. The problem with getting more visits is that there is no guarantee that they will be the right kind of visitors. What if I told you that it’s possible to double the value of your website to your business without getting a single extra visitor?
Ultimately you want conversions not traffic. You want visitors to carry out the action you need so that you can engage with them. This could be getting them to call you, fill out a contact form, or to buy something. A good SEO is very concerned with conversions because conversions are the very reason the website exists in the first place. If you’re selling twice as much product or getting twice as many leads and your traffic hasn’t increased, are you likely to be worried? Of course you won’t be worried, you would be very happy. Great SEO’s can do more with less because they care about conversion rate optimisation. SEO companies that guarantee rankings don’t care about conversions, they only care about rankings. They’re setting you up to fail and not get the best from your website before you begin.
I’d be happy to guarantee that I’ll get the phone to ring more often or I will get customers to buy more products. That’s much more valuable than rankings anyway and adds to your business bottom line. How would I do it? I can answer that in three words. Testing, testing, and testing. Between 95% and 99% of all website visitors don’t convert. Understanding why they don’t convert and then testing layouts and designs to encourage more of these lost potential customers to convert is a powerful strategy. Using pay per click marketing to retarget these lost visitors is another important method for getting these lost leads back to your website.
5) The long-tail often converts higher than the short-tail
I’d rather rank for 20 high commercial intent phrases with 100 searches per month than 1 phrase with 2,000 searches per month. Long tail keywords are longer keywords which perhaps have 3 to 4 words. They are more specific and detailed, and although they are searched for less, they convert at much higher rates. Short tail keywords such as 1 or 2 word keywords often convert at lower rates even if the total search volume is higher.
The reason for this is simple buyer behaviour. If you are going to buy a product online you will initially start with a research phase and eventually end up at a buying stage. If you are looking to buy a washing machine for example, you may well Google ‘washing machine’ to begin with. I’ll absolutely guarantee that keyword is not likely to be the final one searched that leads to a sale or conversion!
The SEO’s job is to get the balance right between keywords that have sufficient traffic to justify the time spent acquiring them and keywords that are specific enough that they are likely to lead to a conversion. At SEO Derby we optimise your website to give it the best chance of ranking for multiple keywords. Furthermore, it’s also important to have keyword diversity anyway. If your website and business is set up around just 1 mega keyword, if it drops in rank your business may well be destroyed!
6) Page 1 can often mean very little for traffic
More and more Google is monetising the ‘above the fold’ advertising on their results page. It’s thought that for commercial terms (the ones you want to rank for) the number 1 organically ranked site only gets between 15% and 20% of the total clicks. If the number 1 result gets 20% of the clicks, just imagine how few clicks the number 10 result gets. Ranking at low page 1 may well be completely worthless even for some keywords with high traffic volume. Many companies offering guaranteed SEO rankings say they will get you on page 1. This could actually be a waste of time and resources.
I see it all the time when I meet potential clients who have been burned by unethical promises from low quality SEO firms. They were promised the world and had very little delivered. I met a client recently that was told that they would be millionaires within a year. 6 months later their e-commerce website still hadn’t even made one sale! The truth was that their website wasn’t good enough to make a sale and the SEO had told them a string of lies and taken their money. That’s a clear example of how rankings can be absolutely meaningless if your website doesn’t convert well, and so guaranteeing SEO rankings is just a total waste of money!
7) Results are getting more and more personalised and localised
How can you guarantee rankings when you get different results depending on who makes the search and where they make the search?
Google really is focusing on generating more local dependent results showing different pages depending on your location. They’re also starting to use social metrics and previous search history for example to show more tailored results. If everybody gets different results, it’s pretty obvious that you just can’t guarantee specific rankings on individual keywords. The recent Google Venice update is a good example of this. If you search for ‘SEO’ (possibly the hardest keyword of all to rank for!) and you’re in Derby, then this website is on page 1. Otherwise it’s nowhere near page 1. Results are only going to get more personalised and localised in the future.
8) SEO is only a small part of the picture
Search engine optimisation isn’t in most cases the golden lottery ticket even if it is done properly. Inbound marketing is a term which has been used a lot recently by SEO’s and internet marketers. There are many ways to bring potential customers to your site, and Google is only one traffic source. 1st year marketing students always learn at first about the ‘marketing mix’ and the tools that are blended to create a marketing campaign. Marketing a website online is no different and the best results are achieved by blending the right tools of which SEO is just one.
As a high quality SEO company we will work with you and advise on more than SEO. We’ll look at SEO, paid advertising in Google search, the display network, Facebook and Twitter, social media strategies, retargeting, and more. I’m sure I must be getting the point over now! Rankings on individual keywords are not that important, and if you look at solely rankings you are seeing a very small part of the picture. By focusing on metrics which look important you lose the ability to have a winning strategy which will be successful in the long term.
Guaranteed SEO sounds fantastic, but in most cases you are setting yourself up to fail. No quality SEO company will offer guaranteed SEO rankings. Although it’s human nature to want guaranteed results, in the case of SEO it’s more trouble than it’s worth. It’s much better to discuss what outcomes you want and get any company you use to focus on conversions rather than rankings.