The dreaded Google First Page Guarantee. I have to get into this a few times a year with different customers and occasionally with the firms offering this guarantee on behalf of a customer. We all want our website to be on the first page of Google so you can see why people get sucked into wanting to believe it. The problem of course is that with Search Engine Optimisation there are no guarantees.
It’s usually pretty easy to find out where the scam lies. It’s usually that the guarantee doesn’t actually mean anything and you only find this out after you’ve been tied in for 12 months. Sometimes the guarantee is based on really low competition keywords (like your business name or a really long tail) and sometimes it is a pay per click deal where you end up paying loads of money in clicks for your keywords (and if you wanted a Pay Per Click Campaign then surely that’s what you would have asked for). Whatever the catch is, any company offering a Google First Page Guarantee is rarely a search engine optimisation company you want to anything to do with.
A Helpful Sham
I find that the Google First Page Guarantee is such a sham that it is actually a really good way of working out the scam artists early on. If they offer you a guarantee then scratch them from your list of companies that you want to work with.
This is new but if this is the first time you’ve come across this then you can Google search ‘Google First Page Guarantee’ and you’ll find loads of articles explaining in great detail why any guarantee is basically worthless. The short version as to why the guarantee is worthless is.
Google controls the algorithm that determines which web pages are listed at the top, and no one can change that. Google’s objective is to deliver the most relevant page to the user. They make billions doing this. Why would they want your page at the top if it is not the most relevant?
This is nothing new, of course, so why am I banging on about this now? Last year I had to get into this for a customer who is well versed in SEO and how it all works, but thought they had found the exception to the rule.
You select whichever keywords you would like and depending on the competitiveness they will give you a price. For that price they will guarantee that you will be in the first 10 listings on Google. If for any reason you fall out of the first 5 then they will set up a paid campaign to get you back on the front page. There is a contract and it is for 12 months.
How It Worked:
They would use one of the websites that they owned that had sufficient juice with Google and graft a keyword rich page onto it for you. They had clearly built up the page rank on a number of sites over time for this specific purpose. The page would look like your own site and would also have your navigation on it and this would be how visitors would go to your site.
What Happened Next:
I played along and gave in some tough keywords for the industry in question. This was nothing as hard as keywords for the insurance industry, but pretty tough. The price came back with a contract and both seemed in order and reasonable. It was frustrating me because I knew that this couldn’t work in the long term (it really was just another form of paid search) but I couldn’t get this across to the customer.
What Happened In the End:
The keywords we had selected were seasonal and so we were set to go live earlier this year. Unfortunately (or fortunately), in between the initial sales call and the go live date, the company in question lost all of their page rank for all of their sites overnight. All the companies with websites who had been made grand promises suddenly found their grafted page was nowhere to be seen, with a possible penalty for their site due to the link from the now black listed site.
The Moral of the Story
There are no guarantees. Maybe this company upheld the guarantee they gave and created hundreds of paid search campaigns using Google Adwords, but I doubt it. I continue to work for this customer promoting their website by helping them create killer content and attracting inbound links. We promote them using Social Media. We help them in their SEO and PPC. In case your wondering, I didn’t stick my tongue out and say, ‘Told ya so!’ and they know about this article and don’t mind me publishing it, hopefully to prevent anyone else chasing Google Guarantees.