That’s a common claim by many service providers, most prominent with SEO and social media “experts”, and companies that manage pay-per-click and affiliate programs. But, what does it actually mean?
The promise of guaranteed results can be very attractive, especially to those who know little about how these fields work. More often than not, three types of firms make such promises:
- Those who tout they know “secrets” their competition doesn’t.
- Those who don’t have enough business.
- Those who use practices that actually work for the task at hand, but actually damage other efforts (i.e. increase incoming links, but decrease authority of the website).
Be wary, because while such companies may very well be familiar with at least the basics of marketing and advertising, the guarantee guides them to do whatever it takes to get you results.
What are they actually guaranteeing?
Mostly, traffic and search result rankings. Not conversions, and not increased sales. This makes their job easier because gaining clicks can be a matter of using “attractive” keywords and, quite possibly, various accounts and web sites designed to push traffic from one place to another. Ever get tweet-spammed? Such accounts are created to drive traffic and are often created by affiliates, site owners and service providers (i.e. some shady social “experts”).
One of my clients experienced a black out across many networks because a firm it hired used terms that flagged the site as containing adult content. Even today, there are certain networks that will not unblock the site, despite the fact it doesn’t sell pornographic materials.
Some companies will guarantee an increase in conversions and sales, so you’ll want full details about how they plan to do so as well as how they track the data.
Why can it be risky?
Search result ranks are based on several factors, including keywords and backlinks. However, using the wrong keywords and signing up for backlinks with the wrong types of sites will get you only temporary results. In fact, Google’s system punishes sites that use unrealistic methods in gaining an edge on competition in the form of search results and page rank. And getting out of the Google “dog house” isn’t an easy task.
Services that promise more traffic may use questionable tactics to guide others to your website, include, but not limited to, spammy posts on social networks, amateur content spinning and “pay-for” blog posts and how-tos.
What about paying only for performance?
There are providers who charge very little upfront, and instead opt to be paid per sale or specific type of conversion. You’ll want to thoroughly research those as well. While reputable firms exist, some use methods that actually pay them for traffic you’d already be gaining yourself.
For example, one provider I’ve worked with makes its money by generating leads on Facebook. After several months, it was found that the tracking code was inserted in every possible link. The result was a higher amount of “likes” on a particular Facebook page, as well as increased sales. The conversation rate for traffic coming direct from Facebook, though, was no higher than it was prior to contacting with that firm. In turn, the firm was being paid for every sale completed by someone who had already started to check out, and clicked “like” on a button to like the site’s Facebook page. The firm did zero work for those transactions, but still got a piece of the pie.
Do your homework.
This isn’t to say there aren’t reputable providers out there who can and do perform very well for their clients. The bulk of them, however, don’t guarantee specific results. Many may charge a setup fee, which is understandable, but will often call for short-term or month-to-month contracts. On the flip side, many “no upfront costs” providers call for contracts of a year or more, leaving you paying month after month, even if you find you’re paying much more than you should be.
The best way to determine if a service provider is accurate in its description of what it can do, or if it’s touting only what it thinks you want to hear, is to do your research. Look for reviews by legitimate business owners, and try reaching a few of them to see what they really have to say.