Guaranteed SEO Results: Why The Best Agencies Don't Promise Them
If you want to invest in search engine optimisation, working with an agency that offers guaranteed SEO results seems like the right way to go.
You pay a certain amount for your SEO services, and they promise to deliver a specific outcome from your investment.
Seems like nothing can go wrong, right?
The truth is, if you’re working with an SEO company that offers guaranteed SEO services, a whole lot can go wrong. These agencies aren’t just using a sales tactic to get you to sign on for their services — they’re putting your rankings AND your business at risk.
But why are guaranteed SEO services so risky?
In this post, we’ll explain:
Exactly why you should avoid any SEO provider that offers these as part of their service
Why guaranteed SEO results aren’t what they seem
How they affect your search engine rankings in the short and long term
Why reputable SEO companies will NEVER promise guaranteed results.
What are guaranteed SEO services?
Guaranteed SEO services are any search engine optimization services where the provider assures the client of a specific outcome within a set period of time.
These might include promises like:
A claim to guarantee rankings on page one for a set number of keywords
An offer of free SEO work for a set period of time as a ‘trial’ period
An increase of X% of organic traffic coming from Google
Most of these promises for guaranteed SEO results come with a set timeframe, such as 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days. Some agencies may even offer a money-back guarantee if they don’t achieve the results within the time they promised.
It sounds great on paper. After all, every business that invests in SEO wants to appear at the top of search engine results pages.
But here’s the catch with any guaranteed SEO service.
These SEO professionals aren’t promising to get you to the top of search for the most profitable keywords, or to bring organic traffic to your website that converts into leads or sales. They’re promising one thing — rankings — at the expense of traffic quality, ethical white hat SEO practices, or tangible outcomes.
Let’s say you’re running a drycleaning business in Melbourne. If you work with an SEO agency that operates with an SEO guarantee, they might promise to get you ranking on the first page for 10 keywords within 30 days. When the 30 days are up, you discover that they decided to choose low-competition keywords like “affordable drycleaners for wedding dress eastern suburbs melbourne”, which has absolutely 0 monthly search volume.
Sure, you’ve ranked on top. But if nobody’s searching for that term, you may as well not be ranking at all.
Can you guarantee first position Google rankings?
First position Google rankings can’t be guaranteed.
It’s that simple.
There are no grey areas here or preferred partners in the SEO industry who get website priority treatment from Google. In fact, Google itself states in its SEO Starter Guide that “no one can guarantee a #1 ranking” and warns against working with any agency promising guaranteed SEO rankings:
The reason why nobody can offer guaranteed SEO rankings is that no SEO firm, consultant or freelancer has a direct influence over Google’s search engine results.
Google’s search engine ranking algorithm is extremely complex and made up of more than 200 known ranking factors, including on-page and off-page factors.
This algorithm is a tightly kept secret amongst employees, and Google itself is constantly updating the algorithm to deliver a better experience for searchers.
A good SEO agency will use all of the information in Google guidelines, as well as their team’s expertise and experience, to put your business website in the best position possible to rank in organic search. However, the final position that your website lands in is up to Google (and can even fluctuate depending on algorithm updates, search relevance, and more).
Why should you avoid companies that offer SEO guarantees?
SEO specialists that offer any kind of rankings guarantee should be avoided at ALL costs. Working with these companies is a surefire way to ensure you get lacklustre results from your SEO campaign, if any. What’s more, these SEO agencies go directly against Google’s recommendations and could put your keyword rankings and reputation at risk.
So why are these companies so dangerous? It boils down to these four reasons.
1. They use blackhat SEO techniques
This is one of the biggest risks you’re running if you work with an agency that guarantees results.
Black hat SEO techniques are any kind of search engine tactics that are designed to manipulate Google’s algorithm to improve a website’s search engine rankings. This type of SEO strategy violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines because it's built SPECIFICALLY to target search engines and not users.
Some of the most common blackhat SEO techniques include participating in link exchange schemes, hiding keywords, creating duplicate content, or posting spammy comments on blogs.
The reason that agencies who guarantee results use black hat tactics is that they’re fast. They might even be able to get away with it for a few weeks — just long enough to meet their KPIs and get paid — but eventually your website will get caught out.
This could be with an algorithm update or a core update, which Google uses to finetune search results and weed out poor quality content. Updates like Google Panda affected roughly 12% of all websites, and led to thousands of websites seeing crazy drops in traffic overnight:
These algorithm updates often target dodgy SEO tactics. So if your SEO agency is using these types of tactics as part of their guarantee, it’s only a matter of time before your website gets affected by an update.
However, that’s not the only risk you’re running with black hat tactics…
2. Your website may get penalised by Google
The bigger risk of using black hat tactics is that your website will eventually get caught and receive a penalty from Google. These penalties can range from a web page getting downranked or your website being removed from search engines altogether.
Getting results from black hat tactics may be quick, but recovering from a Google penalty is painfully slow — and expensive. You’ll have to invest time and money into fixing the problems, then submit a reconsideration request to Google. Once the manual penalty’s been removed, you’ll need to work to regain your position in search results, This process can take months or years, and in some extreme cases, you may never recover and need to start again from scratch.
3. Your website will be ranking for useless or irrelevant keywords
If you’re working with an agency that guarantees results, chances are they get to pick the keywords you’re ranking for, not you. This is one of the reasons why they can confidently say that they’ll help you rank for keywords: because it doesn’t really matter which keywords they help you rank for.
Remember the Melbourne drycleaning example we mentioned earlier? Imagine your SEO agency telling you that they’ve ranked you on page #1 for 20 keywords that have 0 search volume. Or that they’ve helped you rank for keywords that have nothing to do with your business.
4. They deliver poor ROI
The goal of any effective SEO strategies is to get more traffic to your website — qualified traffic, that is. Qualified traffic means website visitors that are already interested in your products or services, or who align with your target audience and buyer personas.
When you bring qualified traffic to your website, you have a higher chance of converting them into leads and sales. In turn, you’ll see a payoff in your SEO ROI because every dollar is working harder for your business.
With guaranteed services, the opposite happens.
If you pay an SEO agency $5,000 to increase your traffic by a set amount — let’s say 100% in 30 days —, the focus shifts from quality to quantity. Even if you double your traffic, it doesn’t really matter unless you’re also seeing the payoff in your leads and sales. Otherwise, you’re just paying for vanity metrics that don’t really have an impact on your bottom line.
In other words, that $5,000 becomes a cost, not an investment.
On the other hand, if you invest $5,000 into targeted SEO with a reputable provider, they might only increase your traffic by 25% — but if that 25% increase in traffic results in a 100% uptick in sales, then you’re getting much more bang for buck.
Why guaranteed search engine rankings for your brand name are a waste of money
SEO agencies that guarantee results typically say they’ll have you ranking on top for searches featuring your own brand name. This can seem like a good idea at first: after all, you DO want to appear if someone searches for your business online.
Thing is, you don’t need to pay an agency to help you rank for those keywords. Google’s fairly good at recognising branded searches and ranking the appropriate website on top.
As long as you have a few indexed pages that mention your brand name, you’ll most likely dominate in search results very quickly.
Add in a Google My Business listing, Facebook profile and client testimonials, and you’ll be in an even stronger position to show up first in SERPs.
The only instance where trying to rank for your business name is a legitimate strategy is when you have a generic brand, such as “Cafe Sydney”. This is both a brand name and a search term, which means you’ll need a local SEO strategy to ensure you show up over other websites in the Sydney area.
Another thing? People who are searching for your business probably already know who you are and what you do. These customers are likely at the bottom of the funnel and ready to make a purchase. If you spend your valuable marketing budget targeting customers who’ve already made up their mind, you’re losing out on opportunities to reach people who may not know of your business yet.
What to expect from a trustworthy and reputable SEO agency?
So here’s the question: if a reputable SEO provider won’t guarantee you results, what WILL they deliver? There are a few things that any trustworthy SEO company should help you achieve as part of your ongoing SEO efforts.
A good SEO company should improve your page rankings for keywords that are relevant to your business. Over time, this adds up to more qualified traffic coming to your website. And more qualified traffic means more high-quality leads signing up for your newsletter and enquiring about your products or services.
Long term results
While obtaining page one rankings within 30 days sounds great, the real goal of any long-term SEO strategy is to get you on top AND keep you there. A reputable provider should tell you that it can take anywhere between 3 to 12 months to see results from a high-quality SEO campaign. However, once you reach the top through white hat SEO tactics, you’re more likely to stay there — which means you’ll get qualified traffic and generate money for years to come.
Authority and credibility
High rankings aren’t the only thing that you get with a top-notch custom strategy. As you built up high-quality backlinks and improve your position in Google, you’ll also be building up your credibility and authority with your target audience.
Think about it: if you appear every time your audience is searching for topics related to your product or service, they’ll start associating you as the go-to resource for your industry. And if you also provide them with helpful content marketing that matches their search intent, they’ll be more likely to trust your brand in the future.
A reputable SEO service provider won’t just help you get top rankings for any old keyword. One of the first things that any quality agency will do is conduct keyword research to find the most relevant search terms for your product or service.
Once your SEO expert has identified the best target keywords, they’ll try to optimise your website's ranking for those search terms. It’s a deliberate and strategic process that ensures your business is only ranking for searches that your potential customers are ACTUALLY searching for, and that are likely to convert.
This process doesn’t just happen in the initial stages either. Your SEO specialist agency should consistently be looking for new keywords to rank for, as well as evaluating whether your current keywords are delivering tangible results for your business.
You’ve probably heard that building backlinks is an important part of SEO and digital marketing in general. But when it comes to backlinks, it’s absolutely about quality over quantity.
An agency that guarantees a certain number of backlinks will likely be getting these through blackhat SEO tactics, such as link schemes or link exchanges. A reputable provider, on the other hand, will work to get links to your website from relevant, high-calibre web pages such as media publications or sites with good domain authority. These types of links pay off twofold because they improve your website’s authority and online visibility, plus they drive qualified online traffic to your website.
Work with an agency that delivers sustainable long-term growth
The best SEO agencies won’t guarantee to deliver results for a certain number of keywords or promise a set increase in traffic. They’ll be focused on what really matters: using search engine optimisation strategies to help you smash your business goals and fuel business success.
If you’re ready to achieve sustainable growth with SEO, we’re here to help. Our SEO gurus will craft a tailored game plan that aligns with your broader goals and ensures you rank only for the most profitable keywords. We exclusively use white hat tactics and, more importantly, we keep you informed with transparent reporting via our Gurulytics client dashboard.
skyrocket your growth.
@ Toast Creative