Guaranteed SEO Results (And Why I HATE That Phrase)



“Guaranteed SEO… guaranteed number 1 rankings… first page in thirty seconds or your money back.”

Those are the types of ridiculous promises that make me want to poke out my eyes with teaspoons (well, not quite, but you get the picture).

Of course, I couldn’t make such a bold statement without at least clarifying…so here we go.

Defining a Number 1 Listing

When, in SEO, we refer to “˜number 1,’ as far as we’re concerned that means the first organic result. That is to say, the first result that isn’t a Google paid ad.

ppc results vs seo results

Where you appear in the paid listings (PPC ads) is not related to SEO. This is related to your Adwords campaign (if you have one) and is based largely on how much you tell Google you are prepared to pay for a single click.

So if someone is guaranteeing you number 1 or page 1 in Google, you’re well within your rights to ask whether they are referring to number 1 in the organic results, or number 1 on the PPC ads.

Keywords Matter

Let’s use the previous example of solar panel installers again. There, we can see that our client, Solar Choice, is in first position for “˜solar panel installers.’ That’s not a random choice. It’s a researched choice of keyword.

The decision to target “˜solar panel installers’ was based on the relevance of that keyword to their services, the likelihood that someone typing that was specifically looking for the service (rather than just information gathering) and thus that it had the maximum chance of converting into an inbound enquiry. In addition to that, we looked at the number of people searching for that specific keyword each month in Google UK. With this information, we felt confident that it was a worthwhile investment – that being in the top 3 in Google for this keyword would indeed generate enquiries and thus a return on investment for the client.

A keyword like that, whereby it is well searched and indicative of someone seeking services, will be much more competitive within the search engines than, for example, an obscure, long search with little search volume.

As an example (and a very extreme one), there’s every single chance that this post will appear on the first page for “green spotty pig with mosquito bites,” just on the grounds that I just mentioned it. Nobody else is likely to be “˜SEO-ing’ for that phrase and well, let’s face it, it won’t generate any business!

The point then being, that if someone guarantees you a first page (or number 1 organic listing) the first question should be: “For which keywords?”

Why “˜Real’ SEO Results Can’t Be Guaranteed

So let’s consider a “˜real SEO result’ as being a top three listing for a well researched keyword, specifically relating to a client’s products or services and with some competition and some real search volume.

Can you guarantee such results? The short answer is no.

The facts are:-

  • Google (and the other search engines) are third parties. No SEO company can pay the search engines to display favourable organic results.
  • SEO results depend on a host of factors including your website itself, the links to your website and your competition. Your SEO company cannot account for what your competition are doing. All your SEO company can do is analyse the competition strategy and ensure that their own strategy “˜betters’ it.

Google’s Advice on Choosing SEOs

Google’s advice to businesses seeking SEO specifically states that nobody can guarantee rankings, saying;

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.”

What a SEO Company CAN Do

SEO companies can’t guarantee rankings. But what they can do is:-

  • Provide you with case studies – not just website URLs but even contacts from their client base who would be happy to speak to you about the SEO company’s services.
  • Give you a clear and transparent idea of how your campaign will be run.
  • Provide examples from their case studies of where that strategy has been successful in the past and assure you they will run yours in the same way.
  • Analyse your competition and give you a realistic estimation of what it will take, in terms of both time and resources, to “˜beat them.’

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Tecmark Author Stacey MacNaught

About the Author

Stacey MacNaught: Search Director

Stacey joined us in 2009 as a junior copywriter; now she's a recognised figure on the global speaking circuit, having wowed audiences in the UK, Europe and US - including at MozCon 2014. She leads our search team and works with clients to deliver high-level campaign strategies.

Visit Stacey's Page
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