2009-03-02 - With the glut of thousands of web site designers, webmasters, programmers, copywriters, and web hosting companies trying to cash in on the SEO services market, some may want to offer Search Engine Ranking Guarantees to entice prospects to sign with them. Competition is intense and they may not feel confident that anyone would hire them without the guarantee. So they feel compelled to do it.
The guarantee they offer though is often based on keyword phrases that few searchers use. You have to ask then, why would someone offer a guarantee on phrases that will bring few visitors and revenue? The answer of course is to get the prospect to sign with them. That kind of desperation isn't something SEO Consultants should have fused into its brand image.
My opinion about search engine ranking guarantees is that they degrade SEO Consultants brand image. We want to be known for the business benefit we deliver, not be reduced to search engine ranking reports and penalties for failing on guaranteed SEO rankings.
I've spoken with some SEOs about guarantees and it was a miserable experience for them. It's unnerving when big money is at play. The pressure is put on everyone. I must admit that I even tried it once back before I joined SEO Consultants. It was a demeaning experience and I would discourage any Professional SEO from going down that road.
When some prospects call or I speak to marketing managers, occasionally they ask me about guarantees and I never offer them. If they don't trust that I'll be doing the best effort possible, then they shouldn't hire me. If they don't feel I can do the job well, then they should not hire me. The fact that they're asking for guarantees and not asking about previous performance and references means they've been approached by sleazy operators who've put forward those claims. These fly by night "Guarantors" cheapen our industry and set a tone that no one appreciates, yet it's a legacy we all have to suffer.
When an SEO company makes guarantee statements, it forces other SEO companies to follow suit. What is particularly harmful about offering search engine ranking guarantees is that it makes our service a commodity, creates negative client/consultant relationships, and sets unrealistic expectations. Just the word GUARANTEE elicits images in client's minds that they will get permanent, top 3 search engine rankings on very competitive phrases. When the SEO prospect sees the guarantee claim, they're not envisioning low traffic/unproductive keyword phrases. They're thinking relevant, big volume, big money phrases. Why would anyone want rankings on phrases that don't produce brand exposure, sales revenue, and leads?
Anyone who has worked in this industry knows that such rankings are very difficult to obtain. If everyone at SEOConsultants.com offered guarantees, along with all the other "SEO Experts", it stands to reason that someone is going to lose. That generates a lot of disappointments, complaints, and reports to the Better Business Bureau about SEO Ripoff claims.
Consider if the American Bar Association allowed its members to offer guarantees for legal services. A lawyer's advertisement might read:
Guaranteed Acquittal On All Charges
Up on Murder Charges? No problem, we guarantee we'll get an acquittal.
Any state, any country, no questions asked.
Would a judge and jury have an issue with that kind of guarantee?
To some people, this is an ethical issue, but we're Search Engine Optimizers, and our job is to manipulate search engine results and give our clients rankings they wouldn't naturally get. Search engine companies generally don't like us. I can remember a time when Google wouldn't allow us to advertise for the phrase "SEO Company" so from the search engine's standpoint, everything we do is unnatural and manipulative.
When SEO clients get a guaranteed search engine ranking offer, they won't be willing to be a partner in that success. Your guarantee means they don't need to help and be a partner in the optimization effort. They may even resent working with you to reach their goals. Once they get the offer they become passive, waiting for you to produce all the results. We want to build healthy relationships with clients, working with them to build their online exposure.
As SEO providers, we're assisting companies with a site that we may not have a lot of control over, nor do we control search engine algorithms. Sometimes, our clients have nothing going for them, nothing buzzworthy. They're just another "me too" company out there on the web. Guaranteeing success and high rankings is quite a claim to make.
And what does an SEO do when he can't deliver the guaranteed search engine rankings and he's already spent the money? Take a look at this posting http://www.RipoffReport.com/reports/0/388/RipOff0388137.htm and you can see the fallout.
Most SEOs guess at what the search algorithm is composed of and what it is measuring. The idea of search engine guarantees is ludicrous.
If SEO companies, webmasters, web hosting companies, and Internet marketing companies want to offer money back guarantees on client satisfaction, that might be okay. But search engine ranking guarantees are a pathetic way for a Professional SEO to do business.
It doesn't matter whether the SEO Guarantee is sincere or deceptive, although deceptive offers are a criminal matter. The issue for SEO Consultants as an organization is to generate quality relationships with clients. To create a healthy, ongoing relationship with clients, it is best to avoid making claims that degrade our profession, make it a commodity, result in bad press, and set new client relationships on a demeaning, exploitative platform.
I'm sure many of you have your own complaints about ranking guarantees, and perhaps everyone should say how they feel about them and how it has affected their professional SEO practice.
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