You hear the term “guaranteed” and Guaranteed SEO Rankings being thrown around as a marketing ploy to bait new business. There is nothing wrong with guaranteeing your work; but the only real guarantee in SEO is that “if” you “do the right thing”, that search engines will crawl, access and grade your content and create an algorithmic reaction fitting to the changes you have made.
The extent of those changes still depends on the competency of the SEO company, their methods and if those methods are capable of sculpting your existing site into the ideal recipient of a top 10 candidate.
Those metrics are not as quantifiable, aside from search engine positioning as something more tangible like a 70% increase in sales volume, which is far more attractive to most.
Competitive thresholds, like ranking for a keywords with marginal traffic like “best affordable professional [replace with your industry] company” is not enough.
Searches comprised of long-tail variations (key phrases with more than 3 words) typically yield low traffic volume, but can be excellent for targeting consumers further along in the sales cycle.
What matters is optimizing an entire array of practical, competitive keywords and modifiers that a motivated consumer would use to find your website; or, more importantly any “lucrative /money keywords” worthy of capturing.
In essence, an advanced SEO campaign ensures that your website would appear for an entire range of keywords pertinent to your business.
Guaranteeing benchmarks through clearly defined Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) will tally the acquisition and development process – KPIs illustrate the before and after process and all the stages in between. However, this will only set the stage for more in-depth optimization.
Sometimes, those benchmarks are exceeded in a fraction of the time anticipated, other times, they take longer. It all depends on the site’s rapport with search engine spiders (how deep and how often they crawl the site, the threshold of how competitive the keywords are) and how authoritative the domain can become in the ranking space/market/segment within the set time of the campaign.
Yet, the vast array of variables that exist and are applicable with conversion funnels vs. the notion of “I want SEO to rank for keyword X” all make a difference.
These variables include (a) what the client did before you engaged the campaign (b) have they linked to bad neighborhoods or fallen pray to cheap SEO tactics that could actually harm vs. help and then brought you a wounded website to FIX (c) if the new client is comfortable changing the site to achieve the desired result or (d) if they can even tangibly measure and quantify the effects of SEO after the rankings are achieved (through conversion).
Not to borrow a concept from Ian Laurie on purpose, but he summarized it perfectly with “SEO is not a strategy, SEO is a tactic”. All of the real reasons and components of what happened before you started using SEO are equally important as the reason why you are doing it.
There are no pacts with search engines, just hard work developing enough development, on page and off page indicators that signify enough relevance collectively to pass the tipping point and start the ascent to the Mecca of top 10 results.
Based on how information retrieval functions, you simply have to give search engines enough context by providing a common thread to overcome any competitors relevance score on the pages that stand in between your websites current position and the position that is the intention of your campaign.
The ultimate objective for any SEO endeavor naturally is to appear in the top 10 results, (preferably above the top 5 scroll line) to increase search engine visibility and bolster clickthrough rates.
The problem with most SEO companies is not achieving the rankings; it is in being short-sighted on the marketing end by confusing internet marketing and SEO with conversion optimization that leads to a higher ROI (return on investment) for each dollar invested.
Rankings are only part of the equation and using that as a measuring stick alone is not enough to justify a campaigns existence.
An SEO campaign must (1) build value (2) reach the desired audience and (3) continue to devour stemmed keywords and phrases based on the positive changes or corrections made to on page factors such as new content creation (to increase relevance), improved site architecture (to aid search engine accessibility), internal linking (to designate preferred destinations and landing pages for visitors to search engines) and link popularity (through promoting the website across multiple off site mediums) to cross the tipping point of authority through peer review.
Once all of the layers are properly incorporated, what occurs next is just a natural reaction, the desired effect of an increase in positioning. Once acquired, one still has to be able to harness the benefits of that enhanced positioning.
The real guarantee for SEO is based on metrics such as (a) do clients have the patience to allow the process of metamorphosis to occur during the chrysalis phase as the site builds more authority and rankings? (b) does the SEO company have the proven history of results to fall back on as well as the proper tactical prowess to accomplish the goal within the allocated time frame (3 months, 6 months, 9 months or a year).
Aside from those two aspects, it is still the same process of assessment, refinement and implementation and who started first that distinguishes who ranks for what keyword and more importantly what they do after they get there.
Speaking from experience from our own SEO agency producing more competitive one word root keywords on behalf of clients as well as our own business, I can honestly say it is a meticulous process that requires patience and is equally rewarded by the degree of cultivation you invest.
Any keyword is attainable; it is merely a matter of time, energy and resource. However, once you get there it is the post-click marketing that determines how profitable that search engine positioning really is. The guarantee only suggests how vested in the process the SEO firm is, and what deliverables and key performance indicators are beneficial as a result of practical SEO Services.