Why We Are Retiring Our SEO Guarantee

Over the last few months, we’ve been debating internally whether to continue with our SEO guarantee which we’ve had in place for almost five years.

Ultimately, the decision was reached this week that we’d be retiring our SEO guarantee. But, as part of our commitment to transparent reporting and practices, we felt like it would be a good idea to explain why. During the time we had our guarantee, we genuinely felt it added value to our service.

Our guarantee wasn’t one that “promised the earth” but likewise it gave our clients who were new to SEO some assurances that they would get a minimum level of results.

We didn’t guarantee any particular keyword would be on page one of a particular search engine, but rather that a certain percentage of the keywords we were targeting would get there.

This meant we were essentially “backing ourselves” to get a certain level of results. Despite this, we felt now was the right time to retire our guarantee and here’s why:

Rankings Aren’t What They Used to Be

The ever-increasing personalisation of search engine results has meant that there isn’t any such thing as a “standard” set of search results for a particular keyword.

A site that was on the first page for one person may not be there for someone else and this effect is only going to intensify as social signals play an even bigger role moving forward.

The SEO Market is Maturing

As the SEO industry evolves, the prospective clients we speak to everyday are becoming more and more aware of what they should be expecting from good SEO.

Those “clued up” realise that it’s not about how many ‘first page rankings’ they have, but rather how their SEO activity is leading to more qualified traffic that’s driving conversions.

A simple “how many keywords are on the first page” metric, and subsequently guarantee, was useful a few years back for those with limited SEO understanding as a way to get a rough gauge on how things were going, but nowadays the average business owner is more aware of what metrics they should be drilling down into.

Guarantees Have Got a Bad Wrap

There’s been a few cases recently where other SEO companies have had some bad publicity because they haven’t delivered on their guarantees, or because their guarantees have conflicted with Google’s policies.

Whilst this is the minority, in many ways it’s tarnished the term “SEO Guarantee” for good. Many SEO companies offered (or continue to offer) legitimate SEO guarantees that comply with the search engine’s guidelines and add value to their clients.

Despite this, it’s getting harder to distinguish those good ones from the shonky ones and in many ways it’s better to leave the whole concept of an SEO guarantee alone.

So What’s Our New Commitment?

The same as it has always been. Our commitment is to deliver search engine results to our clients that lead to more qualified traffic and ultimately sales. We just won’t be doing that under the banner of an SEO guarantee.

Our process is to sit down with our clients and understand their business goals. Are they trying to achieve more online sales, phone calls, enquiries or build brand awareness? Whatever these goals are, we can then determine the right metrics to measure our success in achieving those.

Actual business outcomes are always what we’ve judged on by our clients and that’s not going to change.

Craig Somerville is a Director at Reload Media, having worked extensively on the digital and online strategies of leading companies within Australia and around the world. With a background in marketing and economics, Craig's unique experience offers great insight into how the world of search and online marketing is changing in today's rapid marketplace. He is also a Google AdWords Qualified Professional and regularly consults on all aspects of digital marketing including search engine optimisation (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media.