SEO has received a bit of a bad rap over the years because of the number of companies that have guaranteed rankings to their customers only to leave those customers’ hopes dashed to the wind. Many gullible small business owners and would-be Web entrepreneurs have been sucked in by these false claims and it hurts all of us. Because of that, many reputable SEO companies stay away from “guarantees” because we don’t want to be lumped in with those bad guys.
While reading Rand Fishkin, I ran across a blog post in which he shares some of the claims that some SEO companies have made. Here are some examples:
$399 annual – Guaranteed fast listing on DMOZ, Netscape, Google, MSN, AltaVista, LYCOS, FAST, ASK/Temoa and 100+ other engines and portals! Trace your traffic and guarantee a higher position!
Rand links to the original sources for all of these quotes on his blog and I encourage you to check it out for yourself. This one is pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Guaranteed FAST listing on …. Well, what does “fast” mean? For DMOZ, if you get listed in six months that’s pretty fast. But even taking DMOZ off of this list, be careful about companies that promise fast listings because fast is a relative term and all of the search engines will crawl your website any way so any company that charges you to be listed isn’t really on the up-and-up.
* We guarantee to keep you on 1st-page results each month, or you don’t pay for that month.
* We guarantee to optimize your website for up to 100 different keyword phrases.
* We guarantee to provide monthly reports that document all of your 1st-page positions.
Now, this one is interesting. Guaranteed 1st-page results? For what key phrase? If a company can make that kind of guarantee then it’s likely for a key phrase that isn’t going to get you much traffic. I can guarantee you 1st-page results every day, but all that really means is that I can target a key phrase that no one is searching for and capture it for you. But if no one is searching for it then why would you want it?
The same logic applies to the 100 “different keyword phrases.” Whoop-tee-do! Do you really want to be listed on page 1 for “long-strand camel hair of red”? Especially if you sell whitewall truck tires?
Oh, and thank you for the reports! Now I can see how worthless my rankings are.
When it comes to search engine rankings, keep in mind that they change every day. They will fluctuate. And you’ll bounce from page 1 to page 2 back to page 1. That’s because your competition is doing just like you – they are tweaking their web pages, blogging, marketing through articles, social bookmarking, and trying to influence their rankings through link building. If 15 companies in your industry are all aggressively pursuing the top ranking and half of them are any good at it then it is likely that any of them could appear on page 1 for the best key phrases on any given day.
Search engine optimization isn’t an exact science, but it isn’t rocket science either. Don’t accept loose guarantees and claims from companies like the ones listed above. If an SEO company won’t be honest with you about the results you can expect then you shouldn’t do business with them.