Sometimes, potential clients ask us, “Do you guarantee search engine rankings?”

There are many search engine optimization (SEO) companies out there that provided guaranteed ranking and use this type of guarantee as a selling point when trying to acquire new clients. This type of guarantee can seem attractive to the client because it seems to decrease the client’s risk. However, we believe guaranteed rankings are actually riskier for the client.

Here are three reasons why we think guaranteed SEO is a bad idea for the client.

1. Worthless rankings

Often, an SEO company will guarantee that they’ll get you Top 10 rankings, but they’re really just gaining you new exposure for worthless keywords.

For example, that you rank your site #1 in Google for an obscure phrase that very few people are searching.  Because no one’s searching for it, there’s no competition for it, so it’s easy for the SEO firm to get a number one spot.

These types of rankings might make the SEO company and the client feel good. However, because nobody’s searching for those keywords, nobody’s clicking to the client’s site, and so there’s no value to have the ranking for those key words.

In this example the guaranteed rankings have created a conflict of interest where the SEO firm is just taking the client’s money but they’re not delivering any value.

2. Promises they can’t keep

Let’s say the SEO company isn’t guaranteeing rankings for worthless keywords. There’s still a big problem with the guarantee.

The second reason guaranteed SEO doesn’t work is because the SEO company is making promises they can’t keep. In our view, it’s unethical to promise what you can’t totally control.  And like it or not, the reality is that SEO is something you can’t totally control.

The SEO company can’t control what actions the client’s competitors will take and how that may affect the search engine results. Also, the SEO company can’t control (or accurately predict) how search engine algorithms may change in the future.

As a result, no serious SEO professional guarantees rankings.  If an SEO professional is guaranteeing rankings, then they probably don’t understand how SEO works or they’re willing to make a promise that they can’t necessarily keep, and we think that’s unprofessional.

When we’re doing SEO for clients, we’re very confident that we’re going to get solid rankings and deliver positive ROI. And we project what the client’s ROI might be from a successful SEO campaign. So, we don’t guarantee results because we don’t have total control.

3.  A sign of desperation

We don’t know for sure, but our best guess is that many SEO companies guarantee rankings because they’re desperate to get new clients. Because of their cash flow problems, they’re willing to say and do anything to get a new client.

Are All SEO Guarantees A Bad Idea?

Clearly, we think it’s a bad idea to guarantee specific rankings. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean an SEO company shouldn’t have some kind of guarantee, though. Here are some examples of ethical, professional guarantees.

1. We’ll get work done on time and according to your specifications.

2. We’ll be up-front with you about everything we’re doing to rank your site higher..

3. We’ll provide detailed reporting showing our progress.

4. We’ll be available to speak with you and answer your questions.

Going one step further, an SEO company can provide a satisfaction guarantee.

For example, “If at any time you’re unsatisfied with our service, we’ll refund your last month’s payment and let you to cancel future payments without any penalty.”

These are all guarantees that we offer to our clients. We believe this approach to “guaranteed SEO” is professional, ethical, and much more effective for reducing risk for the client guaranteeing search engine rankings.

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