14th May, 2013

When you start your search for SEO options, you’ll come across many companies offering ‘guaranteed SEO Services’, claiming they can help you climb the rankings fast and that you will stay there. In this article I hope to tell you why you shouldn’t go for a Guaranteed SEO package and why.

Why Can’t You Guarantee SEO?

As a consultant myself I am often confronted with that question. It is very difficult to guarantee anything unless you can control all factors within it and surrounding it. Let’s say the SEO company you have chosen has guaranteed to get you to number one postion for one keyword no questions asked they will get you to number one, may be they have specified a time period behind it or may be they have just set a budget that if you pay 50% upfront, they do the work to get you there and you can then pay the extra 50% once the result has been reached. Regardless of the various answers, the bottom line is that they have guaranteed this result for you. If you take that at face value it does sound good and a fair deal. If it all pans out you can have a number one position in Google for a keyword. But have you looked into the search volume of this keyword, potential conversion or competition? I’ve only mentioned a few things you should probably consider before you go for your guaranteed option.

Common Guarantees

If you are convinced a guaranteed SEO solution is for you then you should be wary of the potential pitfalls for them and some clever tactics that SEO companies will adopt. You have to be sure you know exactly what you are getting with this service. If they have guaranteed you are going to get to number one for a certain keyword then you need to check firstly is the keyword what you want to be number one for and does anyone search for it. So the keyword they have said they will get you to number one for is “shoes for sale in bromsgrove”. Great so if we use various tools out there on the internet, in particular Google Adwords tool,  you’ll quickly find out that this keyword will not generate your site any traffic and will be very easy to get you to number one for. Let’s backtrack slightly and assume you don’t know the search volumes on this keyword and you think it will be good to get to number one for. The next question should be what will the SEO company do to get you to number one for that keyword in particular? The most likely scenario is that they will ask for access to the site so they can make On page changes. This is a normal practice for any SEO company and we are no different. Without On page you won’t be number one for your keywords. You give them access to the site and allow them to go in and make the necerssary changes to the site. A few things they are most likely to change are:

  • Page Title
  • Header 1 tags
  • Meta description
  • Meta keywords (though Google has ignored these since 2009)

These are just some of the things they may say they are changing and they would be right to change the first three. This will most definitely help the SEO and will help Google determine the expertise of the page. If we stop there as an SEO company, and often companies do, that could be the only service you are getting. So summarise the service quickly – they have chosen a keyword with you and you have given them access to make On Page changes. This is sometimes all SEO companies will do I am not tarnishing this approach just asking you to be mindful of it. After a few weeks may be a month or two later you notice you’ve climbed to number one for “shoes for sale in bromsgrove” – the keyword selected. That is exactly what you want and is exactly what you were guaranteed. The question is has it meant you have had more traffic to the site, enquiries and conversions? If not then it might be because, as mentioned earlier, the keyword selected was not a keyword that people were actually typing into Google. This is very common for some SEO companies that guarantee services because they can near enough guarantee you will be number one, but for a keyword nobody searches for.

Still Think They Can Guarantee a Position?

the progress of keyword position on a graph

We choose several keywords with good search volumes that will drive some traffic to the site and are likely to convert well. Can we still guarantee the positons on these keywords? Like earlier the answer is no. We are a competent, trustworthy, transparent and specialist SEO company and we wouldn’t be all of those things if we guaranteed the result you were going to get. A big factor in this is that, although we do extensive reasearch into keywords, competitors and your current backlink profile, we can’t predict what other sites are doing in the way of SEO. This is a factor that no SEO company will have control over; just because you do a lot of work to the site, introduce new content and generally help the site’s overall health, doesn’t mean your competitors aren’t doing the same. It might be naïve to think otherwise, if you are on the first page of Google wouldn’t you strive to stay there and get higher? With this in mind it becomes obvious that yes you need to do good quality SEO work to get to the top of Google but you are doing similar if not the same tactics as other sites. Therefore unless you can see everything the competitors are doing how can you guarantee a certain position?

Putting a Price on Keywords

the google keyword tool in action

You might come across companies that offer a guarantee service whereby they group certain types of keywords together. There are some SEO packages that put a price on certain keywords. For example local keywords with low search volume will cost roughly £1000 for a guaranteed service hypothetically speaking of course. The price then increments upwards for different groups of keywords dependent on the location, theme or area of business. We often come across this and personally don’t agree how can you put insurance which is majorly competitive in SEO, with a hairdressing salon based on its keywords. When in truth these services are completely different and that should reflect in the pricing. It is much better to get a service that reflects your business personally not generalises and puts you in a distinct group, as SEO is different for every customer.

Google Updates

google penguin

Another factor is Googles updates.  From Google’s first update in 2009 (the Panda Update) which targeted duplicate content to the more recent Penguin Update which targeted low quality, high  quantity and spammy links. Google will always update its algorithms and can sometimes be unpredictable. As an SEO company it is vital to stay as proactive as possible, when the Penguin Update was announced in April 2012 thousands of sites took a massive fall in rankings and some were even de-indexed when these updates came about. Particularly the Penguin Update, most sites were completely unaware and saw a massive drop in traffic. This is a factor that any SEO company should be proactively looking at.

Impossible to Deliver

In the SEO world unless you get a scenario where everything is within the control of the SEO company in question then it is highly unlikely the service you are getting is actually of value, or will actually work at all.


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