Should SEO Companies Guarantee Their Work?

Travis Bliffen
by Travis Bliffen 25 Oct, 2016

:: By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO ::

Over the years, businesses have learned that any "guarantee" for SEO work is the first sign they should run. This advice often centers around the concept that companies offering guaranteed results are doing so by focusing on obscure terms that can be easily ranked. The takeaway being, companies that guarantee rankings do so under that guise and the result is a website with higher rankings and no traffic, leads, or revenue increases to go along with it. 

Is this really the case? 

For many, it is and not because of the guarantee itself but rather because of the typical quality of a company that does guarantee improvements to close sales.

Cheap and Guaranteed Don't Mix

Just a few weeks back we covered the cost of SEO services in 2017 and with it, a warning to stay away from low-end, low-quality providers. In order to overcome common buyer objections or concerns about ultra-low pricing, companies will use "guaranteed rankings" to put the potential customer at ease. 

With near certainty, we can say that cheap SEO services that offer guaranteed rankings are going to be prone to targeting low-value terms as part of their guaranteed rankings offer. Fundamentally though, the same company is very likely to pursue low-value terms regardless of whether or not a customer was promised results. If the cheap company could actually guarantee rankings for valuable terms, why would they be offering cheap services in the first place?

If they have a surefire way to rank valuable keywords, why don't they just set up affiliate or drop-shipping sites, both of which could likely be more profitable than a $99/month SEO client? Guaranteed or not, stay away from cheap SEO providers if you take your online marketing seriously. 

What About the "Big Dogs"?

Let's say on the other hand, you are in touch with a large, respected SEO firm and they make you a guarantee of improved rankings, should you view this guarantee differently?

We will assume that this firm that has a ton of great reviews, testimonials and some impressive client logos on their site. Do the past results of that company guarantee the success of your campaign? Not really.

Past Results Don't Guarantee Future Success

Most of you already know that the SEO landscape evolves rapidly, requiring your SEO provider to adapt if they want to stay competitive. This rapid evolution is what makes it difficult to guarantee ranking results, even for companies with a legendary history of success. Does this mean SEO is just a complete risk with little to no chance of a positive outcome? Not at all, it simply means that a company cannot predict or guarantee the future.

If you take a moment to reflect on what we just discussed, you should be able to pin-point the real issue in the SEO industry and it is not guarantees. It is the processes, adjustments and key performance indicators (KPIs).

Rankings can be volatile, bouncing from page 1 to page 10 and everywhere in between. Sometimes this has to do with what the SEO company is doing and sometimes it is because of a ranking algorithm change. A heavy focus on individual terms can lead to misinterpretation of your overall site performance and can lead to making decisions without enough data to justify them.

Establishing meaningful KPIs aside from keyword rankings will allow a business owner to better understand the effectiveness of a campaign. If you have clearly defined goals, a marketing company can better help you reach them but because of all the outside variables, still shouldn't guarantee specifics.

Why are You Even Asking SEOs to Make Guarantees? 

How many other marketing providers do you ask for or expect to receive a guarantee from? Does your TV ad sales rep guarantee outcomes of commercials? Does a billboard salesman guarantee XX number of calls from a billboard monthly? When is the last time you got a guarantee on your radio ads? 

In order for today's consumer to best leverage SEO a few fundamental changes need to be made in how the service is viewed.

1. SEO is a marketing service. Marketing campaigns are not perfect, must be adapted based on results, and are an ongoing effort.

2. The best SEO service can't make your sales team more competent or your product more useful.

3. If you want to appear highly in search results, you should provide information consumers want and in the format desire.

4. SEOs cannot guarantee results because your actions, Google's updates, changing demand and the ability of your team to close sales in outside of their control.

5. SEO is no longer sorcery, black magic or some dark art. It is marketing and SEO professionals should be viewed accordingly.

A great SEO company in today's market is one that has processes in place to promote your business online and has measurement in place to identify failures and adjust accordingly. 

The willingness to identify, share and correct weaknesses within their own strategies is what separates a great SEO company from the pack, not cheap guarantees, promised outcomes or sales hype.

At the end of the day, working with an honest company is crucial. If they can't even be honest about their ability to control rankings, how honest will they be on lesser known topics? About the Author

Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a Web design and marketing firm located in Franklin, TN. Travis and his team are equipped to handle any size SEO project and have helped numerous businesses to date build a rock solid online presence. When you are ready for more leads and sales, it is time to get #stellarized. Connect on Facebook or Twitter @theseoproz