Gaining trust and credibility. Increasing brand awareness. Driving new leads. There’s no doubt that, when done well, Search Engine Optimization underpins most businesses’ core goals. But great SEO takes time, focus and energy. Guaranteed SEO by agencies is a red flag that you need to look for.
You might be looking for a partner to investigate your SEO strategy and make sure it’s working well for you. While technically, optimizing your digital presence is free, hiring a talented consultant is not, and you want to make sure you get value from your investment.
It’s at this point you might consider agencies that offer guaranteed SEO. Services that promise a specific result – often first-page rankings for several keywords, with a set timeframe in mind. At first glance, this might seem like the most foolproof way to do great SEO, and the best investment.
But there is a crucial problem: SEO services cannot guarantee specific results. In this article, we’ll break down why promises of guaranteed SEO are bad news, and what criteria you should use to inform your reputable SEO search instead.
Guide: SEO Marketing for B2B Tech Companies
What Is Guaranteed SEO And Why Do Agencies Promise It?
As mentioned above, SEO cannot be guaranteed unless your marketing agency somehow controlled the algorithms used to index search engine result pages (SERPs). Of course, any SEO agency you work with should have an in-depth knowledge of ranking factors and how they influence SERPs.
However, taking Google, for example, only a small percentage of even Google’s own staff will have full visibility and understanding of how their algorithms work. At best, an agency that promises guaranteed SEO is naive and idealistic. At worst, they use unethical techniques to drive quick, superficial results.
Even if they base this promise on using best practices, creating incredible content and having a tireless work ethic, it’s still an irresponsible way to sell those strengths. As a business owner, you need to be able to trust that your partners are being completely honest with you. If they begin the relationship by making promises they don’t know they can keep, that’s not a good start.
Why Guaranteed SEO Can Be Worse Than Nothing
Let’s look at some quick facts about SEO to set the scene:
- Over half of mobile visitors will leave your website if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
- While leads generated by outbound marketing such as email sequences have a close rate of 1.7% on average, leads from search engines boast a much-higher 14.6% close rate.
- And a whopping 75% of people never go past the first page of Google in their searches.
With statistics like these, it may seem any SEO tactics are better than nothing. But unfortunately, that’s not the case. In the last section, we mentioned the unethical SEO strategies that some agencies use to back up their claims of guaranteed SEO.
This is commonly referred to as ‘Black Hat SEO’ and it covers a range of tactics including:
- Keyword Stuffing (shoehorning in keywords in great volume for little added value to the reader)
- Hidden Text or Links
- Click Farms or Bot Traffic
- Sabotaging Competitors Through Negative SEO
The list goes on. The dangerous thing about these tactics is they can give promising results in the short-term – increased traffic, high-ranking pages, and more – only to eventually implode disastrously.
The increase came from bots, so it’s effectively useless. The high-ranking pages came from keyword stuffing and now your site is banned. Your competitors lodge complaints about your negative SEO. Your reputation is destroyed, along with any future inbound marketing attempts. This is why it’s essential to recognize warning signs of Black Hat SEO techniques before signing on with an SEO service. Do not risk a company that promises success no matter what.
But if you can’t trust claims of guaranteed SEO, what markers should be signifying success?
How to Pick A Good SEO Consultant
Determine whether they are certified in relevant tools, such as Hubspot, SEMrush, and Google Analytics. Your SEO service needs to be able to talk fluently about the nitty-gritty details of SEO, such as meta descriptions and load speeds, and they should be investing in their employees to upskill them further.
It’s important they’re realistic and proactive regarding timeframes. SEO can take 6-9 months to reach its full effectiveness – will they understand how to use Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to supplement their SEO efforts while they gain traction? Do they take the time to understand your company’s buyer persona and unique brand positioning and shape their strategy accordingly?
Look for signs of credibility, including:
- Testimonials from previous clients
- Visibility on their staff
- Reviews on their site
- A fleshed out, relevant blog with scope beyond just company news
Furthermore, make sure their on-site and off-site SEO is looking up to scratch.
You’re looking for an established, people-first company that’s proud of its accomplishments. Do they have a portfolio of previous clients you could potentially get in touch with? It may well be worth doing so.
If your potential SEO service offers vague SEO ‘bundles’ with little to no personalization and low transparency, that’s a definite red flag.
A company that knows your industry and understands the sometimes-complex inner workings of SEO isn’t going to condescend to you or sugarcoat your situation. They will break down their plans to keep you in the loop. As mentioned above, SEO can be a long process, and a good agency will give you realistic expectations.
Hopefully, this helps illuminate why guaranteed SEO is far from the easy win it first seems.
Ultimately, if done well, SEO will pay for itself tenfold in the long run – it’s worth sourcing a reputable company who you can form a lasting partnership with.
At Nituno, we use a mixture of SEO best practices, including on-site SEO (we recommend getting starting with our free website audit for a demo) and compelling, value-rich content. We know every business needs a curated marketing strategy to get the most ROI from their marketing spend, so we also combine this inbound strategy with outbound marketing, paid ads and video as necessary. If you need great SEO to turbocharge your growth, get in touch with us today.