A while back I wrote an article about whether SEO firms should offer a guarantee or not. The just of it was that search engines are in control, not SEOs. Some overzealous SEO consultants may have you think otherwise. With all the hype about rankings, many companies lose sight of what’s really important, conversions and sales.
Here’s a slightly edited exchange I had yesterday. I removed specific references:
“Yes I have a budget but I would like to pay based on results as opposed to paying for tasks that I don’t really understand. I would pay up to $xx/month if you can keep me in the top 5 on Google and $x/month if you can keep me in the top 10 for the search terms “insert search phrase here”. If you can get me up in the rest of the engines as well, then I could see going to $xxx/month for top 10 with many of the other SEs also in the top 10. Let me know if you can work with this type of arrangement.”
There is no way to guarantee a specific ranking on Google organic results. If anyone is feeding you that line, they are flat out lying. Google controls their search results, not any SEO firm or consultant.
Unless we have complete control over a site and no changes are made without our approval, it’s unlikely we’d do a pay for performance program. And even then, our fees would be 2 – 4 times what you mentioned in your email.
I’ve seen too many programs wasted because a client or client webmaster made what they thought were innocent content or linking changes with their web site which resulted in dropped rankings.
We gain top 10, top 5 and first place rankings for all of our clients, but we do not guarantee that.
We’ll perform keyword, competitive, technical and content analysis on a client web site, present those reports and then make optimization changes to content, code and links. Then we’ll submit as necessary and begin an ongoing linking and content building program. For those services we charge a minimum of $xxxx the first month and $xx – $xxx/month after wards depending on the size of the site as well as keyword competitiveness, popularity and relevance.
Focusing on rankings alone is just not productive. It makes no sense, but many companies are fixated on rankings like some SEOs are fixated on that stupid green Page Rank bar.
iProspect released information on a study they did with Jupiter Research yesterday on how companies measure the effectiveness of their search marketers. They found an over emphasis on rankings and traffic and not on conversions and sales. The goal of most web site promotion initiatives is to generate business isn’t it? Not executive bragging rights about about a top 3 ranking on the phrase “iPod Nano” or something like that.
There’s been a lot of buzz about web analytics in the search press lately, so hopefully more companies and SEOs will start focusing on the real value of search marketing like generating business.