I find it really surprising. The number of SEO consultants and firms around that continue to offer "guaranteed rankings" when it comes to search engine optimization. Not only do I feel this is somewhat unethical, but it's also against what most search engines advocate.
Before you start thinking about offering guaranteed rankings as an irresistable sales pitch to your clients, perhaps have a good think about the potential consequences.
In this article, I give 7 reasons why you shouldn't be offering guaranteed SEO. Oh, and a free contract too!
1. You don’t control search engine algorithms.
This would seem obvious. What’s the point in telling your clients that you can “guarantee” something that is obviously beyond your control? Would you tell someone that you could guarantee winnings playing poker machines at the casino? Of course not. The same principle applies to search engine optimization. Don’t mislead your clients with unethical sales pitches, or unlrealistic outcomes. Your business will only suffer for it long term.
2. Even the search engines say not to do it!
Google, the worlds largest and most popular search engine frown upon this themselves. Even they say not to do it. Here’s a direct outtake from their webmaster pages. (original source)
"No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of 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..."
And yet it seems that almost everywhere I look I see “SEO Guarantee 1st page Google”. As said, search engines control rankings, not you.
3. Competitive activity and site promotion.
A common mistake I see a lot of freelance SEO consultants make is that they don’t take into consideration the possibility of competitor site promotion and marketing activities. By this I mean, what you’re competitors might be doing in terms of SEO themselves. Just because you’re performing SEO on a clients site doesn’t mean they’re not doing the same.
Let me tell you, when this happens it can become extremely frustrating, especially when the outcome of your efforts is a drop in your clients rankings. As with search engine algorithm changes, what your competitors are doing at their end, is completely beyond your control.
4. Rankings are dynamic, and thus typcially unstable.
Okay so you’ve managed to get your clients website to number one. Seems like you may have just pulled it off. But wait. 6 months later the phone rings, and it's your client asking why their site is now back on page 38 and sales have dropped by 99%. What are you going to do now? You guaranteed first place rankings, but does your contract specify the finer details for say, how long or and under what circumstances? SEO is always an ongoing activity. Offering guaranteed rankings becomes complicated over time.
5. Unless you deliver, you might just end up working tirelessly on a campaign.
Unless you have a rock solid contract, you may just end up working tirelessly on a project until you have fulfilled your obligations as agreed upon. I’d hate to think about this actually. Can you imagine being stuck with a highly competitive keyword that you’ve claimed to be able to get to first page just for the sake of landing a job out of sheer desperation?
Clients once they’ve paid, wont be interested in excuses. They’ve paid for a service, and they want results.
6. Are you really that desperate?
Is it really worth making silly claims just to secure a project? I don’t know for sure, but my best guess is that a lot of freelance SEO consultants go about guaranteeing rankings simply because they’re desperate to get new clients. This is probably due to the lack of initial cashflow. Its not worth telling a client what they want to hear, just to make a few bucks.
7. Refund requests
Once you start making claims like guaranteed rankings and search engine placement, you’re better positioning yourself to be subjected to disgruntled clients asking for their money back. With so many external factors beyond your control, the likelihood of refunds are bound to happen. Its just a matter of time.
Okay, with that said, here’s a contract that I am certain is going to save you a great deal of headaches. It’s a very simple SEO No Guarantee Disclaimer. It’s a quick agreement which you can have your cleint sign off upon prior to starting any work.
I’ve put this together quickly using various sources, in the hope that you might find it useful to prevent any sticky situations with your clients. This is by no means an exhaustive contract, but it should at the very least, bring transperancy to the project, and set some realistic expectations and outcomes for your client.
DOWNLOAD SEO NO GUARANTEE DISCLAIMER AGREEMENT
I believe honesty and integrity are always key, and if done right, your clients will thank you for it, and quite possibly reward you with continual business. Even if you don’t manage to get them to first page each and every single time.