If only there was a surefire pathway to success, right? Everyone wants that coveted first page spot in Google’s search results to ensure that their company gets exposure. And a key element in landing one of those spots is having killer SEO.
But SEO can be a complicated and elusive element of marketing to a lot of companies, especially if you’re not super tech savvy (and honestly, even if you are tech savvy, it’s still elusive to a lot of us).
If you’re looking to improve your SEO and you’re currently shopping around for an SEO agency to do so, there’s one great big scam that you need to keep your eyes peeled for: guaranteed SEO.
It’s important to know that NO agency can ever guarantee search engine rankings. Search engine algorithms, especially Google’s, simply can’t be outsmarted. In fact, working with an agency that guarantees SEO results can actually have serious repercussions for your website, and will likely end up hurting more than helping.
Guaranteed SEO Is a Guaranteed Red Flag
We get it, having a company promise guaranteed SEO results is enticing, and they can be incredibly persuasive.
But pay attention to how the company positions itself, and what they’re really saying behind their messages. They’ll likely try to convince you that their practices are completely ethical, using only white hat SEO practices, when really it’s likely the opposite.
For example, on one website I found in my research, the company advises you to ignore those “warnings” about guaranteed SEO promises. They even blame the SEO industry, saying how industry thought leaders are simply against guaranteeing results as a way to avoid being held accountable for results.
This company's claim that they carry out guaranteed results "every day" is meant to give you peace of mind and persuade you to invest in their services, promising "numerous page one rankings" to their customers.
You should also be weary of claims that sound something like this: "We work without charging you until we achieve results." This is just another persuasion tactic used to draw in customers. However, no trustworthy, reputable firm would ever use this messaging!
Another example I found is actually predatory. This particular SEO agency is clearly targeting companies that are low on budget and really need help with their SEO and exposure. This company promises that you are "assured results at minimum cost and time" – a blatant red flag that indicates you should steer clear.
Similar to the first example, this company also features "guaranteed page one rankings," and promises "White Hat SEO Practices," citing that they have helped "more than 450 businesses in the past" to build credibility.
All of these factors are red flags that indicate that their services are ultimately a scam, and it will be detrimental to your business and your bank account.
But the best way to avoid one of these scams? Simply stay away from any company that uses the phrase “guaranteed SEO.”
Google Warns Against These Black Hat Practices
Black hat SEO involves any practices that violate search engine guidelines, such as keyword stuffing and – that’s right – guaranteed SEO schemes.
Search engines don’t take kindly to those trying to outsmart the system, and they’ll likely hit your website with some serious penalties for engaging in these practices.
Google provides clear warnings against the use of black hat practices on their support page:
“While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye by using overly aggressive marketing efforts and attempting to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways. Practices that violate our guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site's presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from our index.”
They go on to warn against specific black hat practices, including guaranteed SEO practices.
No One Can Guarantee a #1 Ranking on Google.
Google warns you to be aware of SEOs that claim to have a "special relationship" with them, or those who "advertise a priority submit to Google." No company has these privileges, and nobody can guarantee a #1 ranking on a search engine results page.
The only way to submit your website to Google results is through their "add URL page" or by submitting a sitemap, which you can easily do yourself for free.
Google warns you to be careful who you choose to do business with when searching for an SEO company. Make sure you do a lot of research into the industry.
You can use Google to search for available SEOs, but unfortunately, Google can't flag all the individual agencies that practice these black hat practices.
The Alternative to Guaranteed SEO Practices
SEO isn’t as hard to master as you might think, and there are plenty of great alternatives to black hat guaranteed SEO practices.
Assemble a content team and spend time learning about SEO together. Investing in a long-term SEO strategy based around content creation and keyword research is the best method to see results and improve ROI.
We recommend looking into using a content management system (CMS) to help you build an effective content strategy. They often feature easy-to-use platforms to help you post regular content to your site, as well as analyze engagement so you can track how it’s performing.
You can also work with a trustworthy outsourced SEO or inbound marketing agency to help you build and implement a content strategy. Just make sure you look into reviews and testimonials of the agency before you reach out and invest any time in working with them.