I received an email today from a friend of mine who works for a the California Center for Sustainable Energy who got a phone call from an SEO sales man.  The sales guy sent my friend a propsal, the proposal included the SEO company’s online marketing methodology which included a 25 1st page placement guarantee and also had a sampling of their past client rankings.

What really bugs me is not that an SEO company can’t control search engine rankings, but that they are using ranking guarentees as a sales pitch.  If you ever get a sales request like this then the company probably isn’t going to provide much value to your business.  Why? 

  • You don’t know if youre going to get 25 placements that send traffic or just 25 words that aren’t competative
  • No one controls search engine rankings except for the search engine
  • Rankings are only cosmetic and don’t imply a return on investment

I did a simple check on compete.com and found that their top three clients listed in their proposal have little to no traffic reported.  Search engine rankings are nice to have but a return on investment in the form of traffic is what many business owners would consider a better investment.  If I were running this SEO company I wouldn’t have my sales team send out ranking reports only because then

  • you only get ignorant clients who don’t understand the value of traffic and it’s hard to grow your business on industry bottom feeders
  • you don’t get the good clients who are willing to pay money for premium services
  • people are getting smarter every day about SEO and are starting to realize that search marketing is most profitable when it’s looked at from a more holistic approach rather than just one metric of success (rankings).

If you want to sell someone on SEO services then maybe try using

  • user activity from client sites such as traffic levels from your analytics, time on site, etc.
  • conversion analysis, did your team actually drive up conversions/sales?
  • number of pages indexed before and after work was done, were you able to get more real estate visible to searchers?
  • what other specific areas of success were you able to accomplish that would be of interest to a business?

The important idea is to show something of tangible value that implies a return on investment.  While search engine rankings still have value, rankings by themselves are becoming less and less important and if you or your executive falls victim to rankings as the only measure of online marketing success then you may have been duped.


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Nick Stamoulis • 10 years ago

Great post and I agree with you 100%! It seem that so many people in the industry and clients are often caught up with rankings...Rankings are important, but not as important as how many sales, leads and visitors a client gets as a result of good quality SEO efforts...

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E Maas • 10 years ago

Good write up, I think I am going to pass this on to some people.

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