Discussion 2: SEO guarantees versus Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
Guys, I need your help.
I have a friend who is in the early stages of building his SEO agency. He has some clients but he's struggling to find his USP to convert more.
He's got some training that talks about money-back guarantees.
He's asked me for my advice, but rather than giving it, I feel like he could really benefit from hearing the advice of more voices on this one.
How do you feel about giving a 100% money-back guarantee, or 50% money-back guarantee?
[filtered from 18 Answers]
I'd advise him to focus on not selling a service, but rather a solution. Take the consultant approach, diagnose problems, prescribe solutions. Don't offer guarantees because nothing in life is guaranteed except death and taxes.
I love this!
Machuret » Chris
Not trolling you but your local plumber does offer you guarantee when he fixes a pipe? Or lawyers no win no fee? Or an airline refund if they don't fly you.?
Chris » Machuret
I understand that, but everything they're doing is within their control. They control their tools and the inputs and outputs of the process. A lawyer doesn't control the output, but he does have a very clearly define set of rules that, if followed, *should* produce the end result their looking for.
What do we have as SEO users? Case studies, patents, and hints about an otherwise black-box of an algorithm that even Google engineers (AFAIK) don't even fully know what the outputs *should* be for a given set of inputs.
If Google engineers can't predict the outcome of a search query, why would you guarantee that?
How can you guarantee something that tomorrow might change completely, even though you followed every single best-practice you knew about?
Keith L Evans 🎓
It works. I offer a money back guarantee.
But the offer must be provable and make sense.
(Side note: you're gonna get Input overload to make a good decision to consult him)
A guarantee for SEO work may be illegal. The SEO outcome depends on a third party, Google, who is not a party to the contract. Talk to a lawyer.
Google also warns businesses to not hire an SEO who guarantees rankings.
What is an SEO expert? | Google Search Central | Google Developers
H but that's where things are all wrong, why guarantee rankings?
Roger » Chris Edwards
I'm not advocating guaranteeing rankings. The opposite, actually.
I don't understand your post…
Chris Edwards 🎓
My point was that offering a guarantee based on rankings is bad because that is one of the worse metrics for business.
Our guarantees are based on actual measurable results using things like Google search console Google My Business and call tracking for instance.
when you send a client this after a month they forget all about the guarantee.
If 99% of SEO people tell you not to offer money back guarantee… do it.
This is an industry full of fear . Screw it …
So you offer a money back guarantee?
Machuret » Jenks
Yep . Just use the right framework so you don't screw yourself up
I will happily return 100% of my clients money if they aren't thrilled w what we do for them. No question. That's because we only work with our ideal clients and we KNOW we can help them in a massive way.
Depends on what they are guaranteeing. I believe Google and such prohibit guaranteeing rankings. I could be wrong, but even if it's not prohibited, I don't think that would be ethical. If they guarantee a specific service will be performed within a certain time frame, they better make sure they can deliver. I wouldn't guarantee satisfaction, because there are people that are never satisfied even when everything is done properly and the results exceed expectations. Also, if you're hiring agents, no matter how well you train them, you can't guarantee that they will properly educate and set proper expectations all the time. I think it's better properly educate and set proper expectations than to make promises that may not always be kept even with the best of intentions.
Chetraj » Jenks
money back guarantee is absolutely no brainer and it reflects lack of client education.
As an SEO agency, no agency has full control over the results – it's just our strategy and action plan that we control AND RELY on to deliver results
But both of these are severely affected by (1) what our competitors do and (2) what Google and other search engines do.
With this reality you have to assure the client that you know what you do ( via case studies, your certification etc) and share with them the hours you are putting into their account every month and your per hour rate.
If you show the volume of your work, align it with the amount of cash they are giving and report the progress you have made and plans you have to grow their business — there is chance you will have to return money.
So focus on deliverables + hours you will spend + the cost that incurs and tell upfront you don't own Google or your competitors (educating clients) – you, your friends and clients f and will be a lot happier.
And most importantly ditch clients who want to saddle you – better to be poor then a beggar.
Clients will do a million things to ensure their project isn't successful.
I have really incredible outcomes, but some of the projects I take on aren't worth talking about because I can't do what needs to be done to create an outcome worth talking about.
How do you guarantee outcomes when the client's website is always going down?
How do you guarantee an outcome when the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) decides to bottleneck themselves with editing content, that they wont ever do?
How do you guarantee an outcome when your client doesn't answer the phone, and users bounce to another P1 listing?
Depends on the outcomes agreed.
Why would you ever guarantee something you have no absolute control over? I've never guaranteed rankings — in fact I put disclaimers that I have no control over what Google does. I've never had a problem with it never had a client not work with me because of it and Roger is right it could also be illegal. It's also a really good way to get really bad clients.
Discussion 1: SEO guarantees versus Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
I have a friend who wants to start offering SEO guarantees. He's in the earlier stages of his agencies, he's got a few clients but he's struggling to close in this climate and is looking for a new Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
I have my strong opinion on the subject, but I thought it would be good for him to hear others.
Anyone doing client SEO, how do you feel about guarantees?
8 👍🏽 8
[filtered from 49 Answers]
Never in a million years would I ever offer a guarantee. No solid agency offers a guarantee – it's a desperate sales tactic. Improve the sales process and communicate the value proposition.
If you need a guarantee to close a deal you haven't properly explained the value or gained their trust.
And if they ask for one they're going to look for a reason to cash it in.
Scott » Chris M. Walker
Well said. Those types of clients are bad news.
Manoj » Scott
Actually 99% people can't give guarantee. But there are 1% people who give guarantee. For that you have third eye to see and understand Google algorithm…if you are doing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) thing with mathematics, logics, psychology, and program then definitely you can give guarantee. But it's unfortunate that 1 % people is rare.
I would only guarantee if i know the exact strategy, budget and efforts made by top 40-50 ranking websites + exactly what factors is Google using to rank those websites. While we as SEO users get better in understanding lot of these factors there are too many unknown variables and to guarantee rankings is like playing with 🔥
Depends on how the guarantee is structured.Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be measured quantitatively and you could theoretically make a money back guarantee for performance based on some metric, but you're accepting the risk as the business of taking on work you can't actually guarantee which isn't a great way to have consistent income.
It could be a good way to lock in early clients and start some case studies versus doing the work pro bono to start a portfolio. If you're successful they'll stay on board and if not they get a refund…idk, not my style but it could work like that.
You can not ethically guarantee something for which you have no control. You can show a track record of success, but ultimately it's roulette. At any day and time the rules can completely change. An advantage can become a penalty. Think of yourself as a professional. A doctor or attorney can not and never would guarantee results, but they can show that they have a record of success.
Brother it's not about ethical, word is simply not relevant. Life has even no control. But even people trust on doctors. We treat them as God.
Now talk about penalty, if you are walking with search engines and understand their algorithm..and you understand your viewers or content readers. Then believe me no-one can take you towards penalty.
Although… your friend may be able to guarantee ranking #1 for a term such as asparagus flavored monkey nipple chips.
if he is confident of his skills its ok, but do not make a blanket promize without doing your competitive research first. also i give myself some leway room… eg if i figure i can get the client to first page in 6 months i give guarantee of 12 months. I always meet goals… I guarantee first page results in set period of time or i continue working for free until i get client there. Never missed a goal yet. I also charge more for guaranteed results vs if client wants to do lower budget i tell them i can work with there budget but i don't make any guarantee for the lower service… pretty well everyone goes for the guaranteed package which is more money
I think you SEO bodies should all guarantee your work, if your any good, put money where your mouth is, thousands I've wasted on charlatans and chancers all talk and no action. Should be a small retainer with increasing payments based on results.
☝️I do my own SEO for my own businesses and have to guarantee results for myself otherwise why am I doing it… if you are any good put your money where your mouth is I agree 👍
Carl » Phil
Exactly i started doing my own myself recently after being ripped off once too often and am seeing in a short space of time more than i did with the last monkeys i worked with 🙂
I have been more ripped off for people asking for a guarantee on rankings I would not give them a guarantee yet they hired me anyway but then I got phone calls constantly how come I'm not on the first page yet I mean if I have factored in every call in terms of hourly consulting I would have made thousands off of that bastard it only wanted to pay $400 a month for HVAC in Orlando how about that one can you say it under bid don't take anything from somebody that you don't trust first of all you got to make sure you factor in all of your time no matter what it is.
One of our services offers a guarantee, but it is strict, measurable and not open to abuse.
I also have no problem working to a % of sales, but again VERY strict rules.
The word 'guarantee' is wide ranging, is it a money back guarantee? what exactly is guaranteed? traffic, enquiries, sales?
Sales is not the job of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO), that's the job of the business, 'you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink' is the saying.
All I would say is to be wary of the word guarantee and set the level that you know you can achieve with your eyes shut (which is what we have done with our lead gen services where we guarantee say 5-10 leads knowing we will deliver 2 or 3 times that number.
Big agencies offer SEO guarantees. Its a scam. It's ill offer 80% of the tracked keywords will end on first page… the trick is, you take the couple the client wants. You add 30 or 40 stupidly easy keywords where you know you'll rank easy and you only need to get 60% of your easy ones for 80% to end on first page. It's mathematical illusions.
Its not as if you guarantee their competitive terms, you're guaranteeing a percentage and most are easy to where you cannot fail. Also, it's easy for a good sales rep to shut down these guarantees because the guarantee is always on a fixed term contract. When I have someone come to me saying they were offered a guarantee I tell them okay. What happens if after 2 months they have you on first page in a 12 month term.. their job is done. Literally it's done. If you fall now, they have screen shots… who cares… also, first page doesn't mean shit. 10th gets like less than a percentage in clicks. You need top 3 for clicks and conversions and they won't get you to top 3 because all they are about is getting the list of keywords to first page so they can clean up your money and wipe their hands with the agreement.
100% of people told how the scam works will end up with me and not them… its honestly a poor business model filled with lies and deception. Anyone with morals would just explain why its not good to do guarantees.
Reporting and detailed tasks logs are where it's at. Most just want to know you're doing what you say you're doing.
I completely agree I just wanted my friend to hear more voices than mine. Thanks for taking the time to give such a long answer, I'm going to use it to show him.
I guarantee page 1 in either organic or Google My Business (GMB) in their town in 30 days or less or it's free until I deliver.
I never miss.
Image is of results for my newest client. I met with him on February 10, made three minor changes on his homepage the next day, did my first ranking scan on February 15, and here's where we are today. If you can deliver, it's a good idea to guarantee results. But, only if you can deliver.
I run an SEO agency but it wasn't always that way. I've been the client also. So I look at this with both a client and an agency mindset.
You can't guarantee sales, why? Because your job is to get them the visibilty on search engines, how they handle the potential client or customer is on the client. That will be down to their websites Call-To-Action (CTA) and User friendlyness etc.
What we do however is we offer what we call a value based model. What this means is we agree from the offset the first 6 months targets, if we fail to hit those targets, we continue for free until we hit them (or of course the clients is allowed to pull out the contract) for the record, I haven't had to use this clause thus far. But all the same, it gives the client some comfort in knowing they won't be tied in for 12 months without any comfort.
So I guess our model offers some guarantee in one degree but it also means the client still has to understand that SEO most of the time is a minimum 6 month investment. (not always)
Always always do you due diligence before working with an agency, dig deeper into their results. Nobody has money to waste so if you are going to use an agency, do you homework first.