How can SEO firms guarantee top 10 rankings while others bulk at even the notion that the SEO client should get anything in return other than a statement of work and at the end of the month some fancy reporting about hours spent on link building, article submission and other seemingly important search engine optimization tasks. The truth as always is between the two different camps of SEO firms who either guarantee top 10 ranking or dont. So, why some SEO companies offer performance guarantee, while other SEO companies dont?
Before start our investigation, we have to set some ground rules here of course to make sure we compare only reputable SEO companies with at least 3 plus years in business and a customer portfolio of at least 2-3 dozen clients a year. Oh, and of course the SEO companies we compare have all achieved decent rankings results for their clients and their clients would not hesitate in recommending them to their friend, business partners or family members.
Now that we got these important benchmark out of the way, lets examine what is at the heart of the SEO guarantee and the sometimes very heated discussions surrounding it.
The issue is quite simply trust.
The trust by the clients placed into the hands of the SEO companies to do the best they can to achieve the first page ranking results they were hired to deliver. So, it comes down to which company can sound more convincing on their website touting their SEO services with fancy graphics, customer case studies, testimonials, badges of affiliations with SEO organizations and being member of better business bureau. But does this really make a difference in how competent a SEO company is?
If the company cant convey enough trust to the potential SEO client on their website, they might as well close the shop, but sadly even when a potential clients feel in their gut there is something inherently wrong with forking money over for services that dont have a tangible outcome, they still sign on the dotted line. How sad, but it doesnt have to be this way. You have the right to demand to know what your hard earned dollars buy.
So, here is where the guaranteed SEO services can truly make or break a deal from a reputable SEO company, but there is more to a SEO guarantee, than simply writing a few over used slogans on a webpage and hope visitors will listen.
These are the criterias you should use to hire an SEO firms who guarantees results in writing.
Get references from as many previous SEO clients as you can. The SEO company should give you a list of previous clients contact information cheerfully and with lots of pride. After all they are going to be only as good as the last client they have dealt with. The most important questions to ask previous clients is, how long it took the SEO company to achieve the results and were they able to hold onto those rankings long term.
No money up front. You should not pay a dime for any type of setup costs or other silly administration costs. It takes nothing more than 1 hour for seasoned SEO to come up with a thorough analysis of your site and to create a proposal for you. The cost of this should be not be coming out of your pocket, so never every pay for any type of site review or report up front.
Specific ranking results for Google. Google is still the king of the online searches with over 60% of the total worldwide search market and you should not accept a guarantee that includes any mention of Yahoo or Bing (MSN,Live) in the contract. You should simply say you are only interested in Google natural results.
Verify rankings independently. Always find out what type of ranking report generation tool the SEO company will use. The rankings have to be checked daily and a history of the rankings must be available to you at any time.
What constitutes a SEO guarantee being fulfilled? In other words how many days of the month do the rankings have to in the top 10 or top 5 for the ranking guarantee to be fulfilled. Ask for a minimum of 15 days of each calendar month for the site to be in the top 10 or top 5.
Dont pay for all the SEO fees when the rankings are achieved in the first month. Once you agree on the total SEO fees, you should demand that you pay over a minimum of 6 months as long as the site remains on the first page of Google during that period. If the site drops from Googles first page for more than 15 days in the previous calendar month you should not have to pay and roll the contract term forward another month.
Ask them how much their maintenance plan will cost you, once they achieved the top rankings and the contract expired. Be careful if the SEO company wants to charge you the same rates they charged to get you on the first page of Google in the first place. The link building and optimization effort needed will be substantially costly and you should get a decent break on the SEO fees, if you choose to extend it.
Transparency of what they plan to do to get you on the first page of Google. Ask very direct questions if its not spelled out already in their statement of work or contract, what methods will be used to get you in the top 10 on Google. If all you see in the contract is optimizing page content and some directory submissions, its most likely not going to get you what you want. You want to see in the contract specific references to one-way permanent link building, not rented, permanent links only. Ask them for a sample of links they have acquired for other SEO clients.
SEO can be extremely effective to increase leads, sales, whatever you objective may be, but too many times decision makers in businesses blindly accept SEO contract terms put in front of them simply because they dont know the questions they should ask. Its your duty to exercise due diligence and part of your research when choosing a SEO provider is to know what you get in return for your money, and what are your options if the promised results are not achieved.
Joel Katona is the founder of Trendmetrix Software a full service SEO Company and the architect behind SEO Studio a leading SEO Software. Don't forget to check out his Guaranteed SEO services.