I’ve been contacted by several companies that guarantee top-10 rankings for a fee. Can you tell me if these are legitimate offers?
Search engines are in the business of delivering untainted results. No SEO company can simply place your site at the top of the natural search results. Some SEO companies, however, guarantee discounted pricing or your money back if they cannot achieve a certain level of search engine placement.
That said, it has been my experience that guarantees come in one of two forms; marked-up pay-per-click (PPC) advertising masquerading as a guarantee and complicated performance guarantees that favor the SEO vendor.
Marked-up Pay-per-Click Advertising Masquerading as a Guarantee
More than a few SEO firms try to pass PPC ads (the little text ads that appear above or to the right of the natural search results) as a true search engine optimization accomplishment. They buy the ads, mark them up, and you pay a premium for no good reason. PPC advertising is a good idea when it is a part of a larger search engine marketing program, but not all users will click on paid ads.
Complicated Performance Guarantees that Favor the SEO Vendor
If you negotiate a performance guarantee, check the contract language carefully. I’ve seen dozens of formulas for performance guarantees, but not one that favors the client.
What kind of placement is guaranteed, at which search engines, for how many terms, and for how long? And what happens if they miss the mark? Look closely at the fine print, and more than likely, you will find that you’re not likely to get any money back if you are not satisfied with your results.
Search engine positioning fluctuates daily. Even if you took the time to contract for top-10 placement at the top five search engines for the 20 most competitive key words or phrases in your market, you would need to monitor 100 search results pages just to police the guarantee.
An industry expert I trust has composed a lengthy article on this topic. You will find it at High Rankings Advisor
Another article I’ve found on the topic which covers it quite well is, Top Rankings Guarantees Debunked (Again), by Stoney deGeyter.
If you think you may be getting a raw guarantee, send Etna Interactive your contract and we would be happy to do a free review.