We often talk to potential clients who tell us that they have been burned by SEO agencies in the past. These types of clients then ask if we offer any guarantees as an SEO service provider and often they are shocked when we tell them we don’t.
We know that choosing an SEO agency can be difficult, so seeing a company that offers guaranteed SEO services may seem like a good choice, but we don’t think that it is.
In this article, we will go over some of the reasons in which we think you should stay away from guaranteed SEO services and what you should look out for instead.
What do guaranteed SEO services mean?
Firstly, when you see guaranteed SEO services what are these companies guaranteeing?
A simple Google search has shown us that some companies are offering certain rankings within several months, while others are guaranteeing if you are on the 10th page of Google they will get you to the 6th.
Other companies are guaranteeing that if they don’t get you on the first page within 6 months then they will work for free until they do.
The above sounds good right, but it isn’t realistic for any competitive term that will generate leads for your business.
At Weeare we work with some amazing companies in the most competitive spaces in the world.
With some of our clients, it takes us months of hard work to move their main keywords. Some keywords have taken us 9+ months to improve their rankings because of how competitive they are. Other SEO’s have reported the same too, with some working on keywords for over 2 years.
Tim Suolo of Ahrefs did a study that found that 95% of pages created on the internet didn’t rank on the first page within a year.
So if a company can guarantee that you will rank within 6 months for a competitive term or they will work for free, how legit do you think that service is going to be?
The company offering guaranteed rankings probably has terms and conditions that stipulate they will rank you for some keywords on the page within 6 months, but they won’t be competitive ones.
let’s look at our industry of SEO for example.
The Keyword SEO Agency London.
The picture above shows the top 3 results and if you are not familiar with the tool Ahrefs, the screenshot shows the domain rating and the links to the page on the site.
The domain rating is a made-up metric by the ahrefs software which shows how strong a domain is based on the links pointing to a website.
The top 3 results here have a domain rating of:
And while DR isn’t used by Google it’s a good indication of the strength of a website.
The second site SEOWorks for example has over 800 backlinks from authoritative websites. To beat them you would need good content on your website, good on-page SEO and around the same number of links.
If we based ranking on backlinks alone you would need 133 backlinks a month for 6 months straight to hit the total. These aren’t standard backlinks such as citations either.
To those who are not familiar with link building, building 133 links a month without a huge team is going to be near impossible. It would also be very expensive.
Just to show you how unrealistic this is, using a third-party guest posting provider such as The Hoth, this would cost you close to $30,000 a month in links alone.
The above is based on:
- Average DR of 30.
- 1000 words of content.
- 133 Articles a month.
After 6 months of a super aggressive link building campaign you may still not be ranking either, so do you think there is any company in the world that is going to give you $30,000 worth of services for free until you do rank?
Choosing a company that guarantees SEO services in our opinion is going to end up in tears for everyone involved, but it’s not just us who don’t like ranking guarantees.
Google warns against SEO guarantees too.
Google in their documentation warns against using companies that offer guarantees. They do recommend using an SEO agency that can give you an estimate of the work involved and realistic time frames which any reputable SEO company will offer.
At Weeare we provide a free SEO audit for companies that want to work with us because we like to show them the work involved such as the content that needs to be created and the links that will need to be earned to give you a shot at competing with your competition.
We make these estimates based on the data we have available, but there is no way we can guarantee that we can rank anyone #1 within a certain period.
Google explicitly states that if any SEO company guarantees first result rankings you should walk away from them.
An SEO agency can’t control everything, so they can’t make guarantees.
Search engine algorithms change daily and over the years we have seen huge changes in what works to rank websites.
Even though reputable SEO consultants keep up with these changes, none of us knows what Google has up their sleeves in 6 months so there is no way to guarantee what works now will work then.
Thankfully with many years of experience, we know that Google loves a well-optimised site, a technically sound website, good content and earned links.
If you stick to the above your website will increase its organic visibility on the search engines but there is no way to put a figure on how much traffic or where you will rank in 6 months.
Things are often outside the control of the SEO agency too.
At Weeare we do a lot of link building for our clients. This involves us creating content and then finding prospects and reaching out to them to get links.
We take full control of this service, but often we don’t have control over the sites internal linking structure or have control over the technical side of their website which could be causing them problems when it comes to rankings. In these instances we always make recommendations but sometimes they get ignored and there is not much we can do about that.
Guaranteed SEO Services could be “black hat”
In the old cowboy movies, the bad guy would often wear a black hat, and although black hat SEO’s in the real world aren’t evil they do bend the rules to rank their websites.
Black hat SEO is something Google is strongly against so if you use black hat tactics on your website you could end up with a Google penalty which will harm your website’s visibility and in some cases, it could be removed entirely.
Black Hat SEO 100% works to rank websites, but once a website gets found out they always lose their rankings and can be de-indexed making that domain worthless and all the money spent you have lost too.
One of our clients used an agency that used black hat techniques and as a result, they dropped 92 positions on the search results for their main keywords. With our SEO services, they were able to get their rankings back but this took months of work and thousands of pounds spent to do so.
If an agency offers SEO guarantees they may have a system in place which is black hat, but it could also damage your website in the long term when Google finds out they are gaming the system.
SEO takes months and sometimes years to get the results your business needs so if a company is offering guaranteed results in a short period they could be using black hat methods.
Guaranteed keyword rankings may not help your business goals
SEO companies that guarantee search results will often have clauses in their contracts that allow them to choose obscure keywords that won’t help you reach your business goals.
An example of this could be the following:
An ecommerce store may want to rank for the terms “wooden bedroom furniture” which could potentially bring in thousands of customers a month.
However, the guaranteed SEO company may choose obscure keywords such as “wooden bedroom furniture with metal legs and cotton upholstery”.
The above query would be very easy to rank for but your business wouldn’t get any benefit from it as no one is searching for it. When you hire an agency for ecommerce SEO services it’s important you don’t target vanity keywords but target keywords that increase your bottom line.
The above is an extreme example, but having worked in SEO agencies and marketing companies in the UK I have seen this happen first hand.
I’ve also seen other marketing companies offer first page rankings or your money back and the clause in the contract was for the business name to be on the first page. If your business doesn’t rank on the first page you are doing something wrong, and you don’t need an SEO agency to do that for you.
Isn’t a guarantee better than not having one?
If we were talking about replacing car parts then sure, but with SEO it’s different. Having a guarantee puts more pressure on an agency to produce results in a set time. Now there isn’t anything wrong with this, as we are in a performance-based industry, if we don’t prove our worth very quickly we know we are getting sacked.
However, some agencies will see this pressure and start using techniques which are black hat to try and keep you on board as a paying customer for longer.
These agencies could get your website penalised and after you sack them you are in a worse position than you started. Not only are your rankings poor but you often have spammy links pointing at your website which could cause you to be penalised.
Cleaning up bad links or removing Google penalties is costly and wastes your marketing budget.
If SEO guarantees are bad, what should I look out for?
If you are still reading this you will know we aren’t a fan of SEO guarantees.
So what exactly should you look out for when choosing an SEO agency?
The above is a difficult question to answer and if I had no experience in SEO I would also find it hard to choose an agency or a freelancer.
For example, a good way of choosing an SEO agency would be to see their past work and case studies.
At Weeare however, we don’t like to give any of our client’s data away because we know in doing so their competitors can reverse engineer our work to claw some of their rankings back.
When we perform our SEO audits for potential clients we do go over the results we have had for clients but don’t share any names. This is a business choice and it won’t work for everyone, but for us, we like to keep our methods and data as private as possible.
Secondly, I would do a little research before contacting any agencies to see what methods work in SEO in the current period to see if the agency uses any outdated methods.
SEO is forever changing so if a company is using blog comments and forum links to rank sites in 2021 then they probably don’t know what they are doing.
At Weeare we usually work with companies that have their own marketing teams so they are generally clued up on the latest techniques in SEO so this makes it easier for us to explain what we would do to improve their organic traffic if we were to work with them.
One thing you may want to consider is working with an agency that has worked with others in your industry too. This can sometimes cut down on the time taken to get results but if an agency hasn’t worked with a similar company you shouldn’t automatically discount them.
We work with clients in new industries all of the time and what this often means is we have a learning curve of what your potential customers are looking for when they search for companies like yours.
As campaigns in new industries mature we often find that we can write better content and get more links for that client as time goes on.
Reviews from real companies and people
Reading past reviews is a good way of working out if a company gets the results they promise and how easy it is to work with that company.
Not all companies are going to be a good fit and we also like working with a certain type of client. If a company were to get in touch with us and wanted to have daily phone calls, skype sessions and chats on slack every 10 minutes that wouldn’t work for us as our company culture doesn’t work that way.
You may feel the same. Let’s be honest, no one wants to spend their day speaking to an SEO consultant about keyword fluctuations and the majority of our clients couldn’t care less about keyword density, meta descriptions, outreach and technical issues. All our clients want is more search visibility to increase their profits.
An SEO agency should be a valued partner so finding one that fits your culture is very important.
Does the SEO agency provide the services you need?
Another option you should consider is if the agency offers the services you need. At your company, you may need content creation services and link building. Some SEO agencies may not specialise in content creation and link building and may only offer penalty removals and technical SEO fixes.
The above is a bad example as most companies will have a general understanding of the services but you get my point. If you came to us for penalty removal services I would redirect you to another agency that specialises in that as it’s not something we offer our clients.
If you wanted link building on the other hand that is something we could help with.
SEO has many disciplines including:
- Technical SEO.
- On-page optimisation.
- Off-page link building.
- User experience design.
- Penalty removal.
You should consider the above when looking to hire an agency, and a good, honest agency will tell you if they can or can’t help.
Guaranteed SEO services – Final Verdict.
No SEO project is the same.
We have worked with companies that we’re happy to increase the authority of their websites by getting mentioned on some of the biggest websites in the world.
We have also worked with companies that wanted to increase their search ranking position for one main keyword.
We have also worked with companies that want to be found for every keyword that a potential customer would use to find their business.
Each SEO strategy for the above clients was different and there is no way we could guarantee certain results within a period. Of course, we gave conservative estimates based on data and past knowledge but we wouldn’t be irresponsible to guarantee results and we wouldn’t be able to work for free after 6 months if we didn’t hit targets.
If you are looking for guaranteed SEO services we aren’t the company for you.
But if you do want an SEO service that can increase your visibility for keywords that will improve your bottom line get in touch for a free audit. We will take a look at your website and produce a video audit showing some of the things that could be done to increase your organic search traffic.