This article has been contributed by Nital.
SEO (search engine optimisation) companies have been around for a while now, but many businesses still struggle with the idea that the success of SEO campaigns can’t be guaranteed.
There are, of course, those who do make lofty promises – but the fine print generally takes the wind out of those inflated claims. Some SEO companies guarantee rankings by promising a certain number of keywords that they themselves choose. By selecting relatively non-competitive and perhaps irrelevant terms, they enjoy a decent success rate. But there’s no evidence that those sly keyword rankings actually create meaningful traffic.
The most reputable providers of SEO consulting and development services rarely ever provide guarantees or brag about spectacular results. Wondering why? Because no SEO company can realistically offer a results-based guarantee.
There are five good reasons why trustworthy SEO companies avoid making big promises about the kind of search ranking results that they can deliver:
1. Search Gets Personal
In recent years, Google has worked towards giving users the information that’s most pertinent to their individual needs by personalising search. Whenever you’re signed in to your Google account, the search results that you see differ from what you see if you’re not logged in. When you’re logged into Google, things like search history and social signals influence your search results. So, if one of your contacts has recently shared content that is related to your search, it will probably pop up.
Physical location also has a significant bearing on what does or doesn’t make it into your search results. Google makes the assumption that you’re most interested in businesses that are nearby. And then, to further complicate things, sometimes the rankings are reshuffled when you simply hit refresh.
Given the unpredictable nature of ranking fluctuations and the impact of location and personal settings, it’s virtually impossible to quantify search results in advance.
2. Ever-Changing Search Algorithms
The Google algorithm is something of a mythical Holy Grail. As legend has it, it has mystical powers, which provide happiness, eternal youth and infinite abundance – or something like that. It certainly does exist – but it’s always (at least) one step ahead of those who seek it.
Tread with extreme caution around any SEO Agency that claims to have some kind of ‘Insider knowledge’ of Google algorithms. At any given time, the algorithm comprises hundreds of ranking signals, which are constantly being tweaked and altered.
Google shifts the goal posts regularly to keep us all on our toes. The Google algorithms are strictly confidential – the little knowledge that people outside Camp Google have managed to glean is based on plenty of trial and error. So, even if a particular SEO tactic produces great results one day, it may well fail the next.
3. No Two Websites Are The Same
What works for one client won’t necessarily produce results for another client.
Boosting one client to #1 fairly quickly is never an assurance that you’ll be able to repeat that performance every time. There are so many variables that affect your ranking outcomes. A well established and trusted website domain, for example, will be advantageous to an SEO campaign. Similarly, the SEO challenge is diminished when a client has already dedicated significant resources to social media.
4. There’s More To Performance Than Rankings
Every business owner wants to be ‘Number One’. But before we get swept away with ranking hysteria, let’s remember that rankings are typically only a means to an end.
Ultimately, proof of an effective SEO campaign should be the increase in search engine traffic and, in some cases, the rate at which those visitors do what you want them to on your site (for example, sign up for a newsletter). With all the emphasis on rankings, the importance of traffic and conversions are often overlooked.
A client’s main ambition should be to attract qualified, engaged visitors to their website. When you start to prioritise the rankings of a few top phrases at the expense of overall search traffic, you have lost perspective. Traffic should always be the primary metric. When a campaign increases search traffic, SEO mission accomplished.
5. Guarantees Go Against The Google Grain
The last four reasons already make a fairly convincing case that any attempts to anticipate and promise specific search results are futile and possibly unethical. But, in case you aren’t convinced, let’s see what the veritable God of the Search Engine Kingdom says.
Google’s Guidelines on Search Marketing expressly stipulates that “no one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google”. The Guidelines go on to warn against “any SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.”
A guarantee is a promise, an agreement that gives the impression of certainty. But when it comes to determining search rankings, there is no certainty. That said, in the SEO world, ranking promises simply can’t be reliably accomplished.
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Nital is the founding director at Octos with more than 8+ years of experience under his belt in this field with a profound level of expertise in search strategies, planning and management. He has served big corporate brands of Australia and is proudly managing Octos, one of the top 16 SEM agencies in AU and NZ after the big win of Google ‘All Stars’ Competition 2015. He is a talented and motivated individual who likes to keep everyone around him happy and content. Nital can be connected on LinkedIn.