SEO and Guarantees

I am often asked by potential clients, often when we’ve reached the point in our discussion in which I tell them how much our services will cost, what sort of results the client can expect. What can they count on? What sort of guarantee can we give them? Many ask for a projection, hard numbers that show that, if they spend this much, and we do this work, they’ll see this many more qualified leads, or this percentage increase in sales.

I would absolutely love to be able to give that to them.

I completely understand why people ask these questions. SEO is at once a commitment and a leap of faith. It’s easy to grumble and say “I bet when they pay for a TV ad they’re not getting hard numbers. Guarantees.” You can guarantee a certain amount of people are going to see it, or, rather, it’s going to be put in front of a certain number of people, and these people will, generally, fit a certain demographic, generally the one most likely to purchase what you’re selling. But you sure can’t guarantee what they’re going to do. You can’t effectively track their activity, post-commercial-impression. Direct mail? Same thing. Maybe worse. The little post office from which I rent my PO Box has a paper recycling bin right by the door, roughly the size of a standard garbage can, and I’d be surprised if they don’t have to empty the thing daily.

All marketing efforts are built on a leap of faith, the idea that if you say the right thing to the right person they’ll do what you want them to. It’s more than that, though; it’s that there is a certain type of person out there who feels a nebulous lack, a dissatisfaction, a nagging sense of need that your product can fill. You just have to reach them, let them know. How do you reach them? You research, you figure out demographics, psychographics, anything that can help reduce the gray area, can help clear the fog between you and your target audience. But that fog never completely burns off. There are always too many variables outside your control.

And so it is with search. Can we guarantee that we’ll get you the number one position in Google for a specific term? No way. We’d love to, but nope. What we can do is work with you to target your campaign to your demo/psychographically perfect target consumer, and we can help you show the search engines that your site deserves to be put in front of that consumer (who, by the way, is also their consumer). We can help you address the ever-increasing number of variables that the search engines are using to make their decision that a site is the right one for their customer, the person searching. We can help you apply best practices so that when Google, Yahoo, et al. make changes your site doesn’t disappear. Oh, yeah, and we can also provide analytics that can show you how many visitors are hitting your site, where they’re coming from, what keywords they’ve used to get there, what page they’re landing on, and what they’re doing when they’re there.

We can also keep working, keep driving positions upward, and keep finding new ways to get your site in front of people.

That we’ll guarantee.