Should a SEO Provider Offer Guarantees?

Are SEO guarantees a good idea?One of the first things that I had to decide when I starting thinking about offering SEO services was whether or not I should offer a guarantee. That got me thinking, should a SEO Provider Offer Guarantees?

Several months ago I bought a piece of SEO software which promised to greatly automate the submission of press releases to free press release sites. Since we did a press release for ever book, it seemed like a smart move. One reason I felt comfortable making the purchase was the 30 day money back guarantee. I don’t think I would have bought the software without that guarantee and my suspicions were correct. The software didn’t have nearly the functionality promised but I was assured that it would within “a few months”. I asked for and received a refund within a week.

With a product a guarantee is a virtual necessity, but what about with a service? With SEO you follow best practices and (if you’re smart) lean towards a slow and steady path of moderate growth but at the end of the day Google does what Google wants to do. Knowing this, lets take a look at why most SEO firms offer guarantees.

A few fly by night SEO providers offer guarantees for highly competitive keywords beacuse they use hyper aggressive black hat tactics that work 80-90% of the time. The problem is the other 10-20% your website gets kicked out of Google. If you have 100 micro sites and only care about the money then that might not be a big deal but if you’re building a business and an online brand than that just isn’t worth the risk. I spent my first year of SEO only doing one site and I’ve gotten that site to page one in Google for several highly competitive terms so I know the slow, steady and smart approach works, but sometimes it takes a bit.

The other demographic who offers guarantees are less dangerous, but a tiny bit deceptive. They will use a guarantee like “We will figure out 10 strong terms to optimize for and will guarantee a top result in Google for at least one term.” Then they will make one of the terms a keyword which has no competition, but likely no searches too. If a science fiction author named Frank Murray comes to me for SEO services and I promise them a top ranking for the term “science fiction author Frank Murray homepage”, I really haven’t done anything as they would rank #1 for that term anyway and the odds of someone typing that exact phrase into Google are slim to none.

One of the first things I do when a friend asks me for SEO help is perform keyword research. I ask them for some terms they would like to rank for, use methods like the auto-complete in Google to add several more terms to the list and then check for the competition and monthly searches for those terms. If I tried to offer one of these ranking “guarantees” to someone who was paying attention, they would ask me why I was guaranteeing a term with 0 monthly searches. That would be an embarrassing question to answer.

With these as my other options I’m choosing to offer a different kind of guarantee. I guarantee that I will continue to spend hours a week staying informed of the latest SEO trends. I also guarantee that I will use the same tactics and techniques for your site that I use for the sites I maintain for my family and friends.

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2 Responses to Should a SEO Provider Offer Guarantees?

  1. Dafeenah says:

    I had a simular situation. A client of mine offered to help me rank #1 in google as part of “payment” for services. I followed advice you’d given me in order to check the # of monthly searches etc for the terms the client was mentioning. There were no monthly searches so I politely declined and charged him full price. But his pitch sounded very convincing if I hadn’t known what to look for.

  2. Matt says:

    Great example. Technically there was nothing wrong with what he did but it’s so darn deceitful.

    When you enter into what you hope is a long term and mutually beneficial agreement with someone do you really want to start off with trying to deceive them about the value of something?

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