Page One Guarantee? No, Thanks.

“We’ll put your website on the first page of Google!” “Guaranteed page-one rankings!” “First-page placement guaranteed!” You’ve heard it all before. If you search Google for SEO services, it won’t take long for you to find a slew of SEO companies making these types of guarantees. In fact, these guarantees are so pervasive, you could easily conclude that they’re the basis of most companies’ business plans. However, when it comes down to it, these companies are guaranteeing something that is 100% out of their control. Sure, there are a handful of tricks and paid programs (e.g. AdWords, pay-per-click) that will automatically boost a website’s rankings, but there are too many factors at play for anyone to predict a certain outcome with any accuracy. Yet, that doesn’t stop countless SEO companies and local online marketers from making these empty promises time and time again. Here’s why you should always be wary of a page-one guarantee.

Magic Cures Don’t Exist in the World of SEO

Online marketers are like doctors. Does that sound like a stretch? Maybe. After all, marketers aren’t required to endure eight years of rigorous medical training and they certainly don’t save lives on a regular basis. But they’re similar to doctors in one fundamental way: They prescribe treatments but cannot guarantee a cure. There are a couple of reasons for this. First…

The Solution Relies Heavily on Your Participation

Think about the last time you visited the doctor’s office. Did you expect a guarantee that you would be restored to full health by the time you left? No, of course not. No doctor is all powerful, and the success of the treatment relies heavily on your earnest participation in it. You must be 100% honest about your medical history and your symptoms before the doctor can make any diagnosis. In that same vein, an online marketer must get the full picture of your web presence and history before devising any sort of SEO plan. If you were experiencing chest pains, wouldn’t you tell the doctor about your heart condition? By the same logic, if you’re having trouble ranking on Google, then you should notify your online marketer about any previous missteps, particularly any penalties or suspensions that you’ve been slapped with. These types of run-ins with Google will certainly affect your website’s rankings, and no SEO specialist is able to counteract them—whether they’ve made a guarantee or not. When it comes to SEO, Google’s word is law.

It Also Demands Time

But let’s say that you don’t have any strikes against you. If your SEO specialist checks out your website and decides that top-to-bottom revisions are necessary to increase your content’s relevance and readability—which is usually what happens—you’ll still be left with a sizable waiting period before your site will show any progress in the rankings. For most small business websites, changes aren’t detected by Google for 30 to 60 days. Some changes to your website or to directory listings can even take 120 days or more to be detected! Once changes have been made, your specialist will have to wait until they take shape before any outcome can be determined. From there, you’ll be able to take the next steps. Medical treatments work the same way: A doctor assesses your ailment, provides you with medicine, and then waits to see if the problem clears up. If that rash or cough goes away, great. If not, then the doctor will need to adjust the diagnosis and start treatment again. Likewise, the ideal situation is that your online marketer improves your Google ranking within those first 60 days; however, if the original plan doesn’t work, then your SEO professional will need to reassess your keywords, targeted search terms, accuracy of information, and other factors before moving forward. In other words, there are many moving parts that all contribute to your search engine rankings, and many of them are completely hidden to anyone outside of Google and Bing themselves. This means that there is always an element of trial and error in SEO.

Guarantees Are Ambiguous

When an online marketer guarantees page-one rankings for your website, several questions should come to mind:

  • For which search terms?
  • In what time frame?
  • Who is performing the search?
    • Is this person logged in to a Google account?
    • Does his/her IP address have an extensive search history?
  • Will this search be conducted on Google, Bing, Yahoo!, AOL,, Best of the Web, or another minor search engine?
  • Does “page one” refer to maps, pay-per-click, or organic results?

Online marketers who have no qualms about making bogus guarantees also have no problem leaving the details as vague as possible. Your website might show up on page one after their IP address is associated with countless searches for the same keywords. The keywords that you rank highly for might be super specific and not very valuable. You might have to pay additional exorbitant fees for clicks or AdWords. Or they might deliver first-page rankings, but on some third-rate search engine that means nothing for your actual web presence. Speaking of things that mean nothing…

Rankings Aren’t As Important As They’d Have You Think

When it comes down to it, what are you really spending all that money on an online marketer for? Is it so that you can see your company’s website jump to the top of a very narrow search results page? Or is it so that you can ultimately generate more leads, find more business, and increase your revenue? As business owners ourselves, we’re betting it’s the latter. If your goal is to get more prospective customers to call your business and book services, then it won’t help you to pour all of your time and money into getting a first-page ranking while ignoring every other platform out there. You need to find an online marketer who will utilize popular business directories like Yelp and Angie’s List and promote your company all over social media, namely Facebook and Twitter. SEO companies that understand just how much goes into effective lead generation will never guarantee a first-page ranking for your business. It would be a guarantee of something outside of their control, and it’s dishonest to pretend otherwise.