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Yeah, But… You Don’t Guarantee Your SEO

Yeah, But... It's time to bring your business up to speed

When you’re looking for a quality SEO company to work with, it’s smart to go through a vetting process for each one. One of the things people often look for is some kind of guarantee on the work being done. It makes sense. If we buy a TV, we want to know if we can return it if it’s defective. If we hire a plumber to fix our sink, we want a guarantee that the sink will work.

SEO doesn’t fall into the same kind of categories as products or services that can easily be backed up with a you’ll-get-exactly-what-you-want guarantee. We are not a product that should perform for a certain amount of time before breaking. It is not handiwork that relies solely on the skill of the person performing the task.

Yes, SEO does require a lot of skill, just like many professions do. But asking an SEO to guarantee their work is like asking a lawyer to guarantee you’ll win the case, a doctor to guarantee you’ll get well, or an advertiser to guarantee the ad campaign they created will bring in X amount of new business. Those things cannot be guaranteed because they rely on factors outside of the skill of the person performing the work.

SEO Is Like Being a Lawyer

Like SEO, when you want a lawyer, you want to make sure you have a good one. Anyone who has had experience with a bad lawyer knows that they can do more harm than good. But even the best lawyer doesn’t guarantee a certain result. In fact, they don’t even like to predict a certain result. Why? Because the lawyer knows that they don’t control the process.

The success of a legal battle depends on many things in addition to the quality of the lawyer: the strength of your case, having knowledge of all the facts, the strength of the opposing side’s case, your willingness to do what the lawyer asks, and the judge selected to hear the case. That’s a lot of variables.

In SEO, the variables are comparable. Other than the quality of your SEO, the success of your SEO campaign depends on: the strength of your site, the strength of your competitor’s SEO, your willingness to implement the SEO’s recommendations, and on which search engine you want to rank, just to name a few.

Like a lawyer, the SEO can try to influence each of these factors, but they have no direct control. The better the SEO, the more influence they might have, but they certainly can’t guarantee that the judge/search engine isn’t going to make a determination completely in defiance of the evidence.

SEO Is Like Being a Doctor

We go to doctors when we have a health issue. Whether we need meds, surgery or just an exam, our doctor is there to help us get better. But no doctor in the world can guarantee that you will be restored to perfect health. Why not? Because to some degree, your health is up to you!

It’s my responsibility to exercise, eat well and avoid physically dangerous activities. My failure to do so will probably result in bodily harm, which I then expect my doctor to fix. The doctor can perform surgery, put your leg in a cast and even give you health tips, but you still have to follow all of the doctors recommendations if you expect to heal properly.

Your SEO also gives you recommendations. Those are designed to bring your website into good health and improve its performance. However, if you ignore those recommendations, you’re not going to have a healthy website. As the client, remember that your SEO has your best interest in mind when he makes recommendations for changes to your site. He’s not trying to be mean. Or a bully. He wants your site to perform just as well as you do!

SEO Is Like Being an Advertiser

In advertising and marketing there are no guarantees. Your ad agency may have created an award-winning campaign, but does that mean that people will respond? History says it’s a crap shoot. Successful campaigns don’t always win awards and campaigns that win awards are often not successful. Go figure.

Campaigns don’t work for a variety of reasons. You may be targeting the wrong audience, you may not have invested enough in promotion, or the site sucks at delivering the message in a user friendly way. Clearly not all of this can be the fault of the advertiser.

The advertiser won’t make guarantees as to how many sales you’ll get from the campaign, unless they know and trust that your sales processes are excellent. They won’t make guarantees as to how much traffic will be delivered if you control the final draft of the campaign and decide when and where it will be broadcast.

The SEO faces similar issues. The wrong keywords, not enough investment, or just trying to optimize a site for a business that no amount of promotion will save, are all destined to failure. The fact is, most SEOs won’t make promises for any site they don’t have 100% control over.

If you’re expecting your SEO to provide you with a guarantee, you’re looking to be ripped off. The SEOs that do provide guarantees beyond that of, “We’ll do our damn best,” usually have so many loopholes that the guarantee itself is useless. No SEO can guarantee top search engine rankings, unless it’s for keywords of low value. No SEO can guarantee sales, unless you implement 100% of their recommendations and have a say in Google’s algorithm.

The SEO that provides guarantees is almost always looking to give you an assurance that they know is false, just to get the sale. And when you don’t get what you expect, they point to the fine print that explains why the guarantee doesn’t apply.

Instead of seeking a guarantee, seek an honest SEO that has a history of success. Does that mean they’ll be successful for you? No, but you have a much stronger chance of it because any SEO with a history of success is looking to keep their record intact! That’s just good business sense that will most likely be good for your business, too.


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Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm who's pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his bride enjoy and his children. Read Stoney's full bio.

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