I stopped freelancing as a website designer a couple of years ago, and started providing SEO services in Singapore to business owners.
What I found out is that 1) it’s a cut throat industry 2) business owners want a guarantee 3) other companies are offering guarantees in order to sell, instead of educating clients that SEO results can’t be guaranteed. Well, a quick Google on show that other SEOs are providing guaranteed SEO rank gins in Singapore.
Can SEO results be guaranteed?
Guaranteed SEO… Possible or Impossible?
Why Do Companies Give a Such a Guarantee?
Business owners looking to hire SEOs want a more solid guarantee before deciding investing into SEO. That’s because they are always looking for an return of investment on their business strategies. However, just like in the world of business, there is never a guaranteed of a positive ROI in your business strategies.
It’s just like the stock market. There’s always a chance you’ll lose money on that stock.
Furthermore, page one rankings do not guarantee an conversion or a sale. Conversions are dependent on user experience, customer service, design, sales offer, landing page copy, branding, and whole lot of other factors, instead of just SEO rankings.
Can any SEO Company Guarantee Page 1 Rankings?
Unfortunately, no, and no SEO consultant can guarantee that.
Google themselves have mentioned that rankings primarily depend on more than 200 factors. These are just too many variables that SEO consultants have no control over.
Then… what Is an SEO’s Purpose?
The purpose of an SEO company is not to guarantee page 1 rankings, but it is to help your company optimize your content and website and put’s it’s best foot forward in Google. It is to maximise search engine visibility.
What a good SEO can offer is fixing technical issues eg. robots.txt, inference and optimization from Google analytics data, on page SEO, content development, and link building strategies.
So What makes a Good SEO?
He’ll advise you on the right approach towards creating content in the new world of SEO.
Unique and 10X content ranks. He’ll advise you on how to keep your content relevant to search queries instead of using outdated methods such as keyword stuffing.
He’ll also be able to maximise your current content that’s already ranked by looking at data by Google analytics.
He’ll also be able to advise you on your site structure. He’ll be able to tell you the difference between commercial and informational search queries. He’ll then advise, or perform an site audit so that you can create a better user experience for your customers.
He’ll advise you to on social media signals, which are highly related to the new world of SEO. Social media links are no follow, however, social signals are a SEO ranking factor in the new world of SEO.
He’ll then be able to advise you on proper link building strategies. Good off page SEO strategies start from good on page SEO strategies. If your content is worthy of promotion, then you’ll be able to reach out for other people to link to your content.
Some Useful Question to ask an SEO:
- Can you show me examples of your previous work and share some success stories?
- Do you follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
- Do you offer any digital marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
- What kind of results do you expect to see, and in what timeframe?
- How do you measure your success?
- What’s your experience in my industry?
- What’s your experience in my country/city?
- What’s your experience developing international sites?
- What are your most important SEO techniques?
- How long have you been in business?
- How can I expect to communicate with you? Will you share with me all the changes you make to my site, and provide detailed information about your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?- Google Webmaster
Of course, not all SEOs reveal their SEO workflow and industry secrets, but he or she can more or less explain the changes he’s going to make on your website.
Some SEOs (like me) develop our own content and they’ll be able to advice you on how to develop and outsource your content.
Going From Zero to Hero
Google has mentioned that any SEO consultant or agency promising you rankings is selling you a marketing scheme.
No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google.
Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever.
– Google Webmaster
Right from the horse’s mouth.
Furthermore, industry leaders such as MOZ researched that it takes 4 to 6 months to rank a brand new website. There’s no guarantee of SEO rankings in a determined period of time. This is why I only take in clients that are willing to work with us for a minimum period of 6 months.
Google rankings aren’t the only key performance indicators you should be measuring when executing an SEO campaign.
Some Common Mistakes that Business Owners Make when Hiring an SEO
1. Not asking where the money goes
While Google never sells better ranking in our search results, several other search engines combine pay-per-click or pay-for-inclusion results with their regular web search results. Some SEOs will promise to rank you highly in search engines, but place you in the advertising section rather than in the search results. A few SEOs will even change their bid prices in real time to create the illusion that they “control” other search engines and can place themselves in the slot of their choice. This scam doesn’t work with Google because our advertising is clearly labeled and separated from our search results, but be sure to ask any SEO you’re considering which fees go toward permanent inclusion and which apply toward temporary advertising.
2. Linking to an SEO (in the footer)
Avoid SEOs that talk about the power of “free-for-all” links, link popularity schemes, or submitting your site to thousands of search engines. These are typically useless exercises that don’t affect your ranking in the results of the major search engines — at least, not in a way you would likely consider to be positive.
3. What are some other things to look out for?
There are a few warning signs that you may be dealing with a rogue SEO. It’s far from a comprehensive list, so if you have any doubts, you should trust your instincts. By all means, feel free to walk away if the SEO:
1. owns shadow domains
2. puts links to their other clients on doorway pages
3. offers to sell keywords in the address bar
4. doesn’t distinguish between actual search results and ads that appear on search results pages
5. guarantees ranking, but only on obscure, long keyword phrases you would get anyway
6. operates with multiple aliases or falsified WHOIS info
7. gets traffic from “fake” search engines, spyware, or scumware
8. has had domains removed from Google’s index or is not itself listed in Google
Lastly, Is High Rankings all That Important?
How to measure the success of an SEO campaign with non ranking key performance indicators is important.
Some of them include:
- User Acquisition Data Google Analytics
There should be an increase in user acquisition from the search engines. This can be verified using the Google analytics.
- Lowered Bounce Rate
Once your website is optimized, your website should be more targetted, and the users coming into your website should be actually finding what they are looking for. This should result in a decrease of bounce rate (assuming yours was high previously).
- Time Spent on Site
Good copywriting, quality content and good site architecture that can be advised from an SEO can increase the user’s time spent on each page. Google takes a look at dwell time as an indirect ranking factor.
- Increase in Targetted Traffic
This can be confirmed using the Google analytics tool, under “queries”. What are you ranking for? Are the keywords you’re ranking for related to your niche?
So… How Should I Increase Sales on my Site, if SEO isn’t all That is?
A good SEO though, can advice you on how to generate more leads and enquiries through better business practices such as, copywriting, call to action, USP and etc. From a business perspective, the design of the website, the copy of the landing page, how persuasive the landing page is, will go to determine the conversion rate of your website.
Leads and enquries are generated not solely because of Google rankings. So what gives? Then SEO isn’t really worth your time right? Not to worry, there is a correlation between HIGHER search visibility and an INCREASE in leads and enquiries.
This is why what you write on your site matters.
But F*ck You Marcus, I STILL Want to be on Google Page 1 Rank 1
Well, I can’t guarantee you to be on Google Page 1 Rank 1. But perhaps Matt Cutts from Google can.
SEO is a powerful marketing technique that can generate your business leads and enquiries.
However, there’s no such thing as a guaranteed SEO rankings.
SEO consultants offering that are selling you a lie, or are using black hat SEO strategies that might incur a temporary increase in SEO rankings.
So, do you want to invest in proper SEO strategies, or do you want to find yourself potentially penalized by Google half a year down the road and end up having to do extra work removing harmful links or rewriting poor content?