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  • Why Guaranteed SEO Rankings are Snake Oil

    Why Guaranteed SEO Rankings are Snake Oil

    Getting a top Google ranking for critical keywords isn’t easy.

    But some SEO companies advertise ‘guaranteed SEO rankings.’

    For example, they may promise you will rank #1 for certain keywords or you get a full refund for the month.

    On first glance, guaranteed SEO rankings might sound like a no-lose proposition.

    But if you see an SEO guarantee, your best bet is to look for SEO services elsewhere.

    Guaranteed SEO Services Overview

    guaranteed #1 ranking on Google

    A company that guarantees a #1 Google rank will usually promise to give your money back or offer free services for a specific period.

    They also may provide a guarantee of how long it will take to rank for a keyword.

    When this article refers to guaranteed SEO results, what we mean is guaranteeing an outcome, such as a #1 or top 5 ranking.

    What is a Money-Back Guarantee?

    We Guarantee a #1 Placement

    A money-back guarantee is a company policy that gives clients the option of canceling their service and getting all of their money back. Companies do this to ensure customer satisfaction so they can keep their reputation intact.

    Why Do SEO Services Offer Money-Back Guarantees?

    Some SEO agencies offer a money-back guaranteed SEO services because it’s profitable for them, not you; if someone cancels with no penalty after 30 days, then those are 30 days where your campaign will be running without any sort of results or improvement in search engine rankings.

    For many businesses, there is an understanding that customers should have some type of protection against shady practices from companies that prey on unsuspecting consumers. This proposition sounds reasonable enough: If you’re unhappy with our services and request cancellation, you can get all of your money back.

    Can Most Agencies Afford Money-Back Guaranteed SEO Services?

    The short answer is no. A money-back guarantee on SEO services, in this case, means that the company will provide you with any type of service and honor your opportunity to cancel at any time for a full refund – even if they haven’t delivered what was promised or done anything yet!

    A quality SEO agency can afford to offer such an expensive policy because they know it’s unlikely someone will ever ask for their money back (plus all those months of work). If there were too many people asking for refunds after 30 days, then the cost would be prohibitively high.

    But, there is a caveat here. Some customers are bound to be dissatisfied with any service, regardless of the quality. Therefore, these costs can add up quickly over the year.

    For this reason, you should take a second look at any time an agency offers this type of guaranteed SEO .

    What Happens to the Money to Pay Employees?

    A money-back guarantee is an expensive policy for a company to take on. If they offer it, then there must be some other reason why – and that’s usually profit margins.

    When you hire a full-service SEO agency, you are doing so because of the work they will do in order to make your site rank higher. This means hiring people who can research keywords, build links and submit content across the web, as well as write blog posts and optimize social media platforms for success.

    It also costs money to keep these employees around; if their campaigns aren’t bringing in any revenue or improved rankings after 30 days (or even 60), then those funds have been wasted by paying them during this time period without achieving results.

    As you can see, there is no feasible way for any SEO agency to offer this service, especially if they have a large team.

    Should You Trust a Money-Back Guarantee?

    The answer is no. If you’re looking for guaranteed SEO services, do not trust any company that offers a money-back guarantee!

    You will likely only come across this type of offer from companies who want to maximize their profit margins and are willing to take on the risk associated with it. These agencies should be avoided at all costs or else they may just steal your money.

    If someone tells you about an agency that can offer a guaranteed refund within 30 days, then proceed with caution. There’s no such thing as perfection when it comes to search engine optimization, even if SEOs won’t always admit it.

    As a result, those people who ask for refunds after 30 days have probably seen some improvement in rankings but are still dissatisfied.

    What Should You Do Instead?

    SEO agencies provide an outstanding, long-term service. Money-back guarantees are usually only applicable to short-term services, such as when you visit a fast-food restaurant.

    Long-term guaranteed SEO services involve paying people over time and covering profit margins. This makes it nearly impossible to offer numerous money-back guarantees. As such, you should focus on hiring an SEO agency you trust.

    Here are some tips you can follow to make sure you’ll always choose the right SEO agency:

    • Research the agency’s website to see how long they’ve been in business and what type of reviews they have from customers.
    • Look at their pricing structure: is it reasonable or expensive?
    • Ask for referrals from people who have hired them before and find out why those clients were happy with the service.
    • Browse the online reviews and testimonials of any SEO agency you come into contact with.

    With that said, make sure you ask about an initial consultation when selecting an SEO agency.

    How Much Do SEO Services Cost?

    SEO Services Cost Per Month

    This is a very important question to ask.

    SEO agencies provide outstanding, long-term service with high-profit margins but no money-back guarantee.

    That’s why they can afford to offer the best digital marketing services available without charging outrageous prices for SEO.

    As such, you should be looking for affordable pricing that doesn’t break your budget and also delivers results in 30 days or less, not just results after 30 days!

    If there were too many people asking for refunds after 30 days (and debunking this myth), then companies would have to charge customers more than what it actually costs them to do their work in order to make up for those losses from dissatisfied customers.

    Why Avoid SEO Guarantees?

    Working with a contractor that offers a guarantee usually leads to subpar results.

    In the worst case, the SEO company will damage your domain name and website for months, or even permanently.

    Google Warns About SEO Guarantees

    Google Warns About Guarantees

    If you need a reason to avoid a search result guarantee, Google warns companies not to fall for it.

    Is that a good enough reason?

    Google states that an SEO company should provide “realistic estimates” of how much their work will improve your SEO ranking and how much and what kind of work is needed.

    But if they guarantee you will get a top ranking, Google continues, “go somewhere else.”

    Google adds that no company can guarantee a certain number in the search results.

    The fact is that an SEO company cannot control how Google or other search engines rank websites.

    If you guarantee a result and can’t control the process involved, that means something is fishy.

    Keep in mind, there are a myriad of factors that contribute to who ranks in Google.

    Google provides many hints about what their ranking algorithm wants.

    SEOs often learn new things through practice and research. But no one who isn’t in the inner circle at Google really knows how the algorithm works.

    Also, the Google algorithm changes daily. So even most Google employees don’t know which site will rank for which position.

    Other factors outside what the SEO company controls also determine rankings.

    For example, how many other SEOs for other sites are targeting your keywords is a huge factor. The reputation of your firm also matters a good deal.

    For instance, if your company produces a product that results in personal injury lawsuits, your rankings in search engines could take a significant hit.

    We aren’t saying that SEO companies can’t ever sway the rankings.

    Some SEOs are more skilled than others at figuring out what makes you rank and what doesn’t. However, not even the ‘best’ search engine optimization on earth can finagle the search results.

    Beware Of The Black Hat SEO

    Black Hat SEO

    The larger risk of SEO guarantees isn’t just wasting time and money.

    In the worst case, the company that guarantees a #1 ranking may use unethical SEO practices.

    These methods are known as ‘black-hat’ methods.

    They try to trick Google into ranking your site.

    Some old-school black hat SEO tricks include purchasing links (remember link farms?) and hiding keywords in the content.

    Years ago, people did these things because they worked; you could sometimes fool Google for a while and get a ranking.

    But technology has evolved and Google is much smarter today.

    If you try black hate methods, they’ll catch you and Google will penalize you.

    Google penalties can either damage your ranking or drop you completely from the search engine.

    Companies that guarantee a result may use black-hat methods.

    Remember, SEO is a long-term game and you cannot usually soar to the top of the rankings for your keyword in a week.

    Companies that must deliver a result in a short time will be tempted to use black-hat methods.

    The SEO ‘Guarantee’ May Be Meaningless

    Some SEOs offer a guaranteed rank, but what that means is strictly defined in the contract.

    And it may not even help you generate sales or brand awareness, so what’s the point?

    For instance, an SEO might offer a guarantee but they choose the keywords.

    This allows them to choose keywords that are easier to rank for. But the keywords might be useless for your business model.

    A ranking by itself isn’t enough to get SEO benefits.

    You must select the right keywords to get qualified visitors to your site who are likely to sign up or purchase.

    Black-hat SEOs also may use methods that let them avoid a financial loss even if they don’t deliver.

    Common SEO strategies include a promise to ‘work for free’ if they don’t get you a guaranteed search engine rank.

    So, if they don’t deliver, they get to keep your money. Because they aren’t getting paid anymore, you can bet they won’t be putting much time into your website.

    Watch Out For 1-Size-Fits-All

    Watch Out For 1-Size-Fits-All

    Did you ever try a one-size-fits-all t-shirt?

    Most of the time, it doesn’t fit! SEO is the same way; one-size-fits-all doesn’t work for search engine rankings.

    The strategies required and how hard it is to rank vary based on industry, where your business is, and how popular the keywords are.

    If the SEO offers a guarantee to every client, they probably are working on volume.

    They won’t put the time and effort into figuring out your business.

    For ideal, long-term results, you need a customized SEO strategy that aligns with your company’s goals and requirements.

    Bad SEO Methods Can Damage Your Online Reputation

    You suspect they’re using black hat techniques

    Guaranteed search engine optimization services sound good but there are many risks to your online reputation.

    If the company doesn’t deliver, sure, you can move on to another SEO.

    But they may have damaged your brand in Google’s eyes.

    You could have a penalty levied against your site and it could damage your domain name for months or years.

    Hopefully, you now understand how important it is to team up with a high-quality, legitimate SEO company that only uses white-hat methods.

    Chief Marketing Officer at SEO Company
    In his 9+ years as a digital marketer, Sam has worked with countless small businesses and enterprise Fortune 500 companies and organizations including NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Washington, DC based law firm Price Benowitz LLP and human rights organization Amnesty International. As a technical SEO strategist, Sam leads all paid and organic operations teams for client SEO services, link building services and white label SEO partnerships. He is a recurring speaker at the Search Marketing Expo conference series and a TEDx Talker. Today he works directly with high-end clients across all verticals to maximize on and off-site SEO ROI through content marketing and link building. Connect with Sam on Linkedin.
    Samuel Edwards