That’s how one of my prospects ended his email to me yesterday… he is a savvy marketing VP of a mid-sized services firm, who actually understood Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before I met him (rarer than it should be in the business world).
I took my time drafting my response. Here’s what I wrote:
“It is common wisdom that ‘white hat’ SEOs (i.e. ones that use ethical practices and not spammy ones) never guarantee rankings, only the ‘black hat’ SEOs do that… The inability to guarantee specific rankings is, in part, because Google is focusing more and more on your online reputation measured by the number of inbound links to your site, a fairly subjective criterion.”
Found a way to guarantee organic rankings? Patent it, quick!
I like the way Mark Jackson at the Search Engine Watch blog calls it in his post, “Yes, Virgin SEO, There is No Guaranteed Search Engine Ranking”:
If a company ever finds a way to guarantee organic search engine rankings, that company will undoubtedly go public and have a market cap approaching that of Google’s…. Unlike Santa Claus, organic SEO is for real. You can get much more value out of SEO efforts than through just about any marketing vehicle that exists.”
Managing expectations about SEO benefits
Jackson, who has been doing SEO for major companies for many years, says a whole lot more about managing client expectations, but you get the jist.
My approach, as a SEO strategist and writer, is to be transparent with clients that search engine rankings are not an outcome that can be bought or manipulated or secured forever… no matter what a shady SEO firm may “guarantee” you.
What I do guarantee is that without SEO, your website is invisible and you’re missing out on the most powerful marketing channel around today.