Guaranteed Rankings & SEO Scams

Jeff Berman
August 16, 2011

I received an email yesterday from a client asking if I would create a new user account for access to their WordPress website. They indicated that an individual needed access in order to perform keyword research for the firm. From the little bit of information I was provided, something wasn't adding up. I didn't understand why someone would need backend access to the website to perform keyword research unless they intended on updating the keyword targeting for the website. Obviously updating the keyword targeting for the website could have a huge impact on the performance of the campaign so it was important that all individuals working on the firm's SEO were on the same page.

I created the new user account and asked if we could schedule a meeting with all the parties involved so that everyone was on the same page with the website changes that were being made. Our client agreed this was a good idea. The firm's marketing director mentioned that one of the partners had spoken with the individual that needed access to the website. The reason he wanted to try them out was because he "likes the fact that the guy guarantees that we will be on the 1st page of a Google search within four to six weeks of signing the contract or we will be refunded our money."

Oh boy.......

A Recipe For Disaster

I have seen every SEO marketing pitch under the sun at this point and there are some telltale signals that should have you running in the other direction. Getting involved in a campaign such as the one offered to our client is a recipe for disaster.

The sorts of guaranteed ranking promises this individual mentions are classic “seo scam” stuff. SEO just doesn’t work this way. For starters, no one can guarantee organic rankings and it certainly doesn’t happen in 4-6 weeks. Here is a link to an article Google posted regarding SEO and things to look out for when hiring a SEO firm. I quote from the article:

“No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a "special relationship" with Google, or advertise a "priority submit" to Google.”

SEOmoz wrote a great article, titled Why Reputable SEO Firms Don't Promise Guaranteed Search Engine Rankings, that discusses staying away from SEO’s that guarantee specific rankings or guarantee rankings in a certain time period:

Here is a quote from the article:

SEO & Guarantees Have an Abominable History - From 1996 through to today, SEO scams have used "guaranteed rankings and traffic" as a slimy catchphrase to lure in gullible buyers with too-good-to-be-true promises. That association has stained the entire industry and repulsed even businesses that might consider using the "guarantee" label.

Many of the SEO companies that do still guarantee rankings have taken the clever tack of guaranteeing a certain number of keywords that they themselves choose. In this fashion, they can select primarily non-competitive terms and have a fairly high rate of success. Whether those keyword rankings provide any serious traffic is another matter altogether.

The article goes on to explain that rankings are inherently unstable, they are a poor metric for overall performance, and that making guarantees about something you cannot control carries inherent ethical problems.

Getting involved in a dubious SEO campaign can have serious, negative consequences. There are no shortcuts in SEO that provide immediate results that are also long lasting. As with most things in life, if it seems to good to be probably is.

Photo by B Rosen (

Jeff Berman
Jeff Berman, is co-founder of AttorneySync. "Properly marketing a law firm online is about producing relevant content that helps a prospective client understand your expertise and how you are able to help them. Finally, it’s about getting that content found by the people you are trying to help."
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