How do you guarantee a first place on Google? You can't.
If you're a business owner, or if your email address is somehow connected to a domain registration, you have probably received dozens (or hundreds) of emails from someone claiming they can help your company to the top of Google - guaranteed! It probably looked something like this:
This is ridiculous, right? No one would entrust their company to an email like this - right?? Sadly, people do. What's worse, I've had clients forward emails to me (albeit a little more convincing than the one above) thinking it would help us in our search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. I've come to realize that digital marketing, SEO in particular, is so enigmatic to small businesses that it is often difficult for them to discern between legitimate information and spam.
3 Red Flags with SEO Offers
This list is by no means comprehensive, but here are a few common promises and statements found in the email above that send up red flags:
"Guaranteed 1st Position on Google"
Google is very clear, no one can guarantee first place ranking for keywords. No one has a special relationship, deal, or system with Google to guarantee a website's ranking. You can read the full article at Google.
There are certainly people who know how to improve your website's performance and rank higher for your target search terms. However, anyone sending you unsolicited emails about guaranteeing a first place rank is certainly NOT that one of those people.
Something else to consider is the keyword strategy. This is actually a major flaw with even legitimate SEO providers. Ranking for keywords is not, in itself, good. Do those keywords bring qualified traffic to your website? If not, it's time for a change in strategy - perhaps a long-tail keyword strategy.
"...At Much Affordable Cost..."
As with anything, there is a legitimate range of costs when considering different options for SEO. Finding an option that is more affordable than another is not the problem. It's the blanket promise without any understanding of your situation. If there was ever a time when SEO was a mechanical process that could be duplicated for any business, it is no longer the case. To provide any kind of analysis of the feasibility and cost of competing in the search engines, an SEO must spend time bench-marking YOUR business and YOUR specific market.
It may not seem like it, but this is the scariest promise of them all.
In the medieval era of SEO (approx 2003 - 2010) the sinister practice "seo content writing" was pervasive. This was content written for the sole benefit of the search engines - not human readers. Quality, readability, engagement, value - none of these were attributes of "seo content writing." This is where you get gems like:
"Your Raleigh, NC lawn needs Raleigh, NC water for its Raleigh, NC roots. Spread your grass seed on your Raleigh, Cary, Apex soil..."
I exaggerated (a little) for effect, but the point remains. Spammy, low cost SEO providers will shred your company's reputation with low quality content that is bloated with keywords and is of no interest to your audience.
Do not think of SEO as an isolated strategy that can be outsourced to the lowest bidder. SEO is now an extension of your brand and reputation. Modern SEO can be only be accomplished by educating, entertaining, and enriching real people online.