Avoid Bogus SEO Guarantees and Meaningless Metrics

Junk food was a revelation when McDonald’s started out in 1948, and today there are 100’s of fast-food chains marketing to everyone with a message they want us to read as ‘eat me, I’m healthy’.

Many SEO companies are the same since they started turning up 10-15 years ago. The industry took off and 1000’s of companies now say, ‘hire us, we will get you ranked’.

When food is labeled 99% fat free you won’t hear about the extra sugar added. SEO companies with marketing guarantees such as ‘No.1 rankings guaranteed’ or ‘First page within 180 days’ are the same, often ranking you for terms with little or no relevance, or worse not delivering and walking away with your hard earned cash! Ouch!

Top Tip: Be sure to delve a little deeper and read the small print surrounding these guarantees. They are usually not worth the paper they are written on. Most importantly ranking guarantees are unethical and go against Google’s guidelines

This direct quote from Google sums it up nicely:

Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings

Now here’s an example of a New Zealand SEO companies ‘page 1 in 90 days or pay nothing’ guarantee broken down for their typical 10 keyword package:

SEO Ranking Guarantee Example

As you can see in reality the small print paints a very different picture. 10% of 10 keywords is only one and that’s after 3 months of solid optimisation work?! Three keywords in 6 months and a minimum of six after 12 months doesn’t exactly sound like the most profitable solution.

Top Tip: Effective website optimisation focuses on ROI not just rankings. It centers around improving the quality and authority of your site from both a search engine and user perspective. All while following quality guidelines that protect your online reputation within the search engines. 

When looking to hire an SEO company to help you profit online, there are a number of these sorts of alarm bells you need to dig into to ensure you are not being taken for a ride. Some are easy to spot while others are often hidden in the data of the reports generated showing off the good surface results.

Alarm Bell One: Total Number of Impressions

The total number of impressions is how often your site turned up on a Google search results page. Whether your link was clicked or not, both count as an impression. An increase in impressions is usually a good result, but this can be manipulated and doesn’t tell the full story. While people do not often go to the second page of Google results, it is possible to have 100 search results show up on the first page. Getting impressions to increase overall takes a computer whizz a small amount of time to manipulate.

Funny Impressions Manipulation Image

Top Tip: What really matters is the impact those increased impressions have on your bottom line.

Receiving 1000 impressions with 5 clicks is not as good as 100 impressions with 6 clicks. High conversion rates (click through rates) are what counts. This provides you with a solid indication of what searches are the most profitable for your business and where to focus your attention. Quality SEO is about just that, quality NOT quantity. All the impressions in the world don’t matter if they aren’t converting into qualified visits to your site and ultimately new leads, sales and customers.

Alarm Bell Two: Misleading Keywords

Getting ranked No.1 on Google or page 1 guarantees are the typical sales tactics SEO companies fall back on. In the early 2000’s you could rank highly for almost any keyword easily with minimal effort. Google has since developed its algorithm to take in a lot more factors (and reduced weighting in others) making it much harder to rank for highly competitive searches. However it is still a breeze ranking for any number of random keywords that no one is competing for and unfortunately many SEO companies exploit this fact in order to satisfy their guarantees.

Top Tip: You want your target search phrases to be relevant to the product or service you provide. Also, ensure people are actually searching for these terms and understand the user intent behind them.

Are you ranking number one for ‘highly successful athletes turned opera singers’? Awesome! Good luck finding someone Google-ing that. You want to rank for relevant long tail keywords (very specific buyer focused search phrases related to your business), ideally they will have 100+ people using them each month.

To prove just how easy (and pointless) it is to rank #1 for obscure terms that provide no value for your business Google, ‘Unibrow Urchins From Uranus’ and check out the #1 spot (this took us less than a day to obtain).

unibrow urchins from uranus google results

Alarm Bell Three: Unfiltered Results

Google Analytics is a powerful tool (and should be one of the tools your SEO company uses to track and measure your results) however you can misinterpret the information if you’re flying blind. You will want data excluding direct traffic, paid traffic and referral visits. This will leave you with nothing but free organic traffic coming to your website.

Top Tip: Filter out branded keywords from your results as well (searches for your company name). No one searches ‘Save My Bacon’ when looking for cash loans without having heard of the brand. Once you have applied these filters, you are left with the truth and nothing but the truth.

To show improvements over time, ask your SEO team to produce month on month comparisons for the last 6 – 12 months (possible within Google Analytics). With the filters applied you will be able to determine the increase in qualified traffic coming to your website. You can also compare this to the same period the previous year.

month by month organic traffic comparison chart

Actual eMagic Client Organic Traffic Growth

Play It Smart

Don’t get sucked in and fall for the misleading sales tactics many SEO companies use. SEO does mean search engine optimisation, but a quality provider will ensure the focus is on what really counts, ROI. Not just bogus promises and meaningless metrics. Check the small print, you will be surprised how misleading SEO can be when taken at face value – there is no way to guarantee No.1 position in the search results.

Nathan Whitaker About the author

Nathan is the co-founder and Strategy Wizard at eMagic. He is responsible for the development and execution of our effective SEO strategies. He is passionate about search and delivering unrivalled results for our clients and industry partners.

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