As a business owner, you have probably gotten emails from agencies with the subject line “First page SEO guarantee”, or “First page search result rank”, or even “Rank top 10 on Google guaranteed”. So, are they scams? Is there any truth behind it? We are here to explain.
Without getting into too much how SEO works, we will more focus on the claim instead. In short, SEO is a long process with many moving parts, it also depends on the situation and involves a bit of luck. The pages on your website, despite optimizing them in the same way and all use good keywords, can drastically vary in rank.
What are keywords and how do they impact SEO?
Just like how it isn’t 100% certain you would get A’s in every subject, even though you studied hard, to consistently be on the first page is rare. Therefore, a guarantee wouldn’t exist. At least not in the way you would expect. You need to understand how keywords work first.
Search engines would look at many factors to determine your rank, but for the sake of this article, we just need to understand keywords. Keywords are words or phrases that you use on your page to signal search engines the content of your page and what it is about. If you are writing a blog about Youtube, then one of your keywords would be “Youtube”, and another one could be “Content creators”.
The problem arises because not all keywords are equal. Obviously, there are keywords or phrases that are more searched for than others. For example, more people would search for “How to make money on Youtube” than “Opening times of the nearest water polo club”. This is where the “First page guarantee” comes into play.
There will almost always be keywords no one search for, and therefore, there wouldn’t be any information about it. No articles written, no images, no videos made and such. For example, no one would search for “Where to buy make-up for my pet tortoise”, because there isn’t any demand for tortoise make ups. As you would expect, you wouldn’t find any information on it.
How search engines index and ranks your site
However, search engines would index all keywords on the page, even if the search volume is zero. Just because no one searched for it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. The keyword difficulty, the likelihood of you ranking on the first page (lower the better), for “tortoise make up” would then be very low. In other words, if you write an article about “Where to buy make up for my pet tortoise”, then you would technically be ranked number 1 in the search results for the keyword “tortoise make-up”.
Technically, you did end up on the first page of the search results. However, what is the point? There is no value for you to rank high for words no one search for. Your website would not get any traffic, and you wouldn’t get any customers. High ranking doesn’t always mean more traffic.
We did respond to some of the emails, just to see how they work. The first two agencies initially gave us a quote of “$160” and “$289” for 3-6 targeted keywords. As we continued to email back and forth, it became clear that the targeted keywords they were choosing for us would not give us any traffic. The first agency increased the price when we asked them to find keywords that is related to our products.
The last one we contacted gave us a low, but believable price. However, we got a strong feeling that they would disappear after we pay them. We couldn’t find any credible information about their agency, and the same user that registered their domain name also had a dozen more registered. All the sites were related to cheap SEO services.
That is why it is important to find reputable SEO agencies, and do as much research as possible beforehand. Search for SEO companies yourself, request an online meeting or call them to discuss details, don’t reply to cold-call emails. Don’t trust emails with meaningless promises and guarantee.