On face value, it may sound quite appealing but dig a little deeper and the truth comes shining through. On the whole these companies use one of two techniques to get these so-called “guaranteed” results.

Landing Sites

The first and more common method is by using an already popular domain with a high page rank to list your site on a single, keyword heavy, landing page. Sometimes this may even borrow the styles from your own web site to look more cohesive. So what’s the problem? Well, primarily it’s not YOUR site that is being listed!

With traditional Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) any increase in positioning is, on the whole, permanent and cumulative. With this method however, you are permanently tied to the company’s services whether they do any work in the future or not. Imagine the scenario, you are paying £100 (or more) a month for a page on someone else’s web site that gets you a reasonable listing on Google for one or two key phrases which bring in maybe 50-100 visits per month. If you ever decide to pull your advertising with them not only do you lose the small number of visits you were getting but you also lose your Google listing too!

Additionally by listing your services on a site with higher page rank than your own you may inadvertently effect the ranking of your own site! Also bear in mind that these landing pages may well carry links and advertising for products or services provided by the SEO Company. So by paying THEM money to advertise YOUR services THEY are getting the benefit of a wider audience for THEIR services. Under normal circumstances you would probably charge another company to advertise on your site.

Fake Pay Per Click (ppc)

The second method I have seen lately has been a kind of “limited” Google PPC campaign to get first page listings. Essentially it’s the same as a normal campaign with one major difference – you pay the SEO company NOT Google for the advertising – so how much do you pay per click? Who knows, you won’t get told. These companies rely on the fact that you will be so impressed at getting the listing in the first place you won’t ask about traffic. The reality is that, no matter what they may claim, you would be better off doing a traditional PPC campaign directly with Google or with an Adwords specialist company.

The thing to remember is that NEITHER of these methods are real SEO. They are, in fact, both Pay Per Click but you never get to find out how much you are actually Paying Per Click! When we have got statistics to work from we have known clients pay as much as £10 per click!

Avoiding Problems

In most cases the “sales” guarantees are rarely matched by the “contract” guarantees. It’s a case of check the small print I’m afraid – always make sure that the promises made over the phone are really what they appear to be. Asking for confirmation in writing of the following questions would be a good idea:

  • How many key phrases do I get?
  • Can I choose my own phrases?
  • What is the minimum contract length?
  • What happens if I don’t get a first page listing for my phrases?
  • Is there a cancellation fee?

If you are satisfied with these answers and you have decided to proceed with the service, make sure you also get the following:

  • Regular traffic reports for your landing page or Google ad.
  • Full click through stats to your website.
  • A breakdown of which phrases are producing the traffic.

With the above make sure that you have access to the raw data or use Google Analytics – in the case of the Adwords technique make sure YOU see the Google stats. Never take reports generated by the SEO Company on face value.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day the money you spend on marketing your site should be working for you. Pumping money into a black hole and hoping for the best is not an option. There are NO SUBSTITUTES for real SEO. There are no short cuts to web marketing. Google Adwords is not a fire and forget exercise. Real Search marketing takes time, effort and commitment.

SEO will produce results but only if you make it happen!