Unfortunately, some SEO consultants are scammers or even worse, flat out liars. Search engine ranking can be so important to a business that some consultants have gone to great lengths, including doing things that are unethical, to get good rankings. A good example of this is using a competitor’s brand name as a target keyword in your site. Others advertise their services by making claims they simply can not back up. As a result, you need to be a savvy consumer when it comes to purchasing SEO services. What is the biggest lie in SEO?
The biggest lie in SEO is “I will guarantee you a #1 ranking in Google.” In order to understand the various forms this lie takes, it’s important to learn the underlying principles of SEO.
Principle #1: SEO Consultants Don’t Know All the Factors that Search Engines Use to Rank Sites
Unless your SEO consultant worked on the Google team responsible for developing the Google search algorithm, that consultant doesn’t know all the factors that Google uses to rank pages. That’s because Google’s algorithm is a TRADE SECRET. It’s their special sauce and they don’t give it out to anyone. Even if your consultant DID work on the Google search team, they don’t currently work on it or they wouldn’t be selling SEO services. Since Google regularly makes updates to their algorithm, your SEO consultant’s information is already out of date. What SEO consultants CAN know is what some of the key factors are that affect search engine ranking. We know this through experience. You make a change to a site and see if it causes the rank to go up or down or stay the same. If it goes up, then we know that change was good. And vice versa. Therefore, all of our knowledge of SEO is based on trial and error and is built upon the experiments of others over time.
Principle #2: The Web Is Always Changing
Pages are constantly being added to the search engines as new sites come online and old ones add new pages. In addition, SEO consultants are always optimizing the pages of their clients. This means that SEO becomes more competitive over time. So, if you do SEO once and doing nothing more, your rankings will likely decrease over time.
Principle #3: The Search Engines are Always Changing
The search engines have embraced SEO to a certain extent, however, a basic premise of the major search engines is that you shouldn’t be able to game the system. Your site should only have good ranking if it has the most relevant content for that topic or keyword. So they are constantly tweaking their algorithms to try to figure out what IS the most relevant content. One whole category of tweaks they make has to do with UNDOING the SEO methods that SEO consultants use to get rankings. If an SEO consultant learns a particular strategy and overuses that strategy such that they get great rankings for a site that doesn’t really deserve those rankings, Google will be looking for ways to eliminate that strategy and level the playing field. In other words, the search engines and the SEO consultants are in a constant cat and mouse game.
Principle #4: Keywords are not all Equal
Some keywords get a LOT more traffic than others. People just do more searches for some words than others. Some keywords are more competitive than others. In other words, some keywords have been highly optimized by a lot of sites and therefore it’s very difficult to get good ranking for those keywords because a lot of other people have been working for a long time to be highly ranked for them. You might conclude that high traffic keywords are also highly competitive and this is generally true. However, there are so many combinations of keywords that there are many specific instances where one keyword is higher traffic than another keyword yet it is less competitive. These are the keywords that SEO consultants look for. Once you understand the above principles, you begin to realize a few things:
- No one but Google can guarantee you a #1 ranking for any keyword and they won’t do that. Instead, they will sell you keywords and give you ranking in the paid advertising at the top and along the right side of the page.
- The more experienced an SEO consultant is, the more likely they will be able to improve your rankings
- The more effort you put into SEO, the more results you will get. This is generally true for any marketing effort – the more time and money you spend, the more results you will get. The corollary is that you need to do SEO over time if you want to produce results. It’s not just a one-time effort
I actually lied when I said no one but Google can guarantee you a #1 ranking. Yes, that’s right – I lied while simultaneously calling others liars. Here’s why. An SEO consultant can guarantee you a #1 ranking if they choose a keyword that is sufficiently non-competitive. It’s probably fairly easy to get a #1 ranking for the keyword “super sanctified silly singers”, however that’s not likely to send much traffic to your site. On the other hand it’s very difficult to get a #1 ranking for “jeweler” because all the local and national jewelers in the world are competing for that word and many of them have spent a lot of money on SEO.
In conclusion, if an SEO consultant tells you they can get you a #1 ranking in Google, they may or may not be lying. It depends on what keywords they are talking about and how much you are willing to spend to get ranking for those keywords. A good consultant won’t make these kinds of outrageous claims. Instead they will educate you about the principles of SEO and help you create realistic expectations based on your budget and industry.