Why an honest web-developer will never promise guaranteed traffic
It’s Monday again and as usual I’ll be putting my thoughts out there on a specific topic. As you can tell from the title I’m going to attempt to tell you why an honest web-developer will never promise guaranteed traffic.
1. SEO & Guarantees Have a Proven Bad History
If you are an actual developer with actual clients and you have been around for a while you know what I am talking about. Going back to the late 90’s and still around today are those websites that state things like. “Guaranteed fast listing on DMOZ, Netscape, Google, MSN, AltaVista, LYCOS, FAST, ASK/Temoa and 100+ other engines and portals! Trace your traffic and guarantee a higher position!” This is a simple example but think of it like this: If it were possible to pay these aforementioned services to guarantee indexing or positions in these search engines would the companies themselves not be offering an option for you to pay them directly for it? Rankings are defined by multiple factors in an equation that corresponds to an algorithm which changes almost every 6 moths so, what can anyone actually guarantee?
2. Search Engines Are Explicitly Against It
Think for a second, which search-engine is the most influential? Google, right? So, let us reference Google’s guidelines on search marketing. If you take a quick read at some point you will find a statement that basically says: No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. To be more specific you will find a paragraph saying, “Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or…”. If Google says nobody can why should you believe otherwise?
3. Rankings are Inherently Unstable
If I perform a search for “SEO Company” here in Paphos, Cyprus, then drive 1,5 hour to Nicosia, Cyprus and execute the same query, I’m likely to end up with a very different ordering of results unless there are no SEO companies in Nicosia as opposed to Paphos or vise versa; the same goes for if I were to log into my Google account and get personalized results or hit a different datacenter during the course of my querying. Many searchers have even had the odd experience of hitting refresh on a query and finding the results change or re-order. Given the incongruous nature of ranking fluctuations and the fact that ranking in a particular position on a given machine at a single point in time says very little about the future or even the present, it’s no wonder that even savvy SEO firms stay away from the guarantee.
4. Rankings are a Poor Metric for Overall Performance
Rankings do not equal traffic. A SEO campaign should be measured by the increase in search engine traffic and the rate at which that traffic performs the desired actions on your site if the contract also includes site optimization for conversions. Achieving rankings is almost always a means to an end and not the end itself.
If you are seeking rankings for posterity or to boost your egos, there might be another issue. If you have a solid business model and great content or services to back it up and want the kinds of qualified, interested visitors that come from search engines because they’ve expressed a desire that your website can fulfill. Yes – position #1 will generally get you more traffic than any other position in the search results, but plenty of campaigns have been sabotaged by an obsession with pure rankings.
The metric should always be traffic – increasing search traffic means the SEO is doing their job. Making the rankings of a few top phrases the priority above and beyond the overall search traffic means that goals are not set correctly.
5. Making Guarantees About Something You Cannot Control Carries Inherent Ethical Problems
A guarantee is a promise – a basic contract that necessarily creates an assumption of certainty by the deliverer to the recipient. So, when I buy a product from Amazon for example and expect my product at my door on the same day assuming that is what they promised than that is what I expect. Amazon can make that kind of promise in the UK for example because they have their distribution network set up in a way that always makes such a promise a reality. In the case of search-engine rankings such guarantees cannot be made because only the companies behind those search-engines know the equations/algorithms that can make a website #1. Anytime you make a promise outside your sphere of direct control in this case you as a SEO don’t control that equation, you’re walking on shaky ethical and business ground.
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org