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A First Page Ranking Promise: 5 Questions that will Avoid this SEO Scam

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Posted by: Travis McGinnis on Tue, Jan 28, 2014

SEO Scam ArtistTheir emails look like this:

“I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough organic search engine and Social Media traffic for your website. Your website is not ranking top in Google organic search for many competitive keywords.”

These scams are pretty easy to pick up on. Most get flagged as junk and anyone with 2 cents worth of common sense knows what bad junk emails look like.

It’s the ones that sound legit that you have to worry about. These are the phone calls asking for you by name, or worse yet, a local company claiming to be SEO experts. In fact, there is a company locally here who promises “First page Google rankings, guaranteed!” It makes me want to vomit. It’s a scam and I know it, but so many hapless business owners are falling victim to the empty promise.

If only someone out there could offer some help.

Oh. Wait. I’m someone. Here’s some help.

Next time someone promises you first page rankings on Google – or any sort of SEO promise for that matter, ask these five questions.

#1: What Keywords Will I Rank For?

This one is pretty straightforward, but it sets the stage for every other question. If you’re being promised first page ranking, you’ll want to know what you’re being ranked for! Ask for a list of keywords, in order of importance.

Clearly you want to rank for terms that are relevant to your website, but if your business name is the first word on the list, watch out! When it comes to your business name you should always rank number one. When people search for you by name, you’re going to come up. That’s how Google works. Google wants to give people what they’re looking for.

Now, if you have a generic business name it might not be so easy. Generally speaking, however, you should always show up first when your name is searched.

#2: How Were Those Keywords Decided Upon?

Choosing the keywords you rank for is always the missing ingredient. Just because you don’t rank for any given term doesn’t mean you should rank for that term. In most cases, people simply are not searching for those terms. So, how do you know if people are searching for certain keywords over others?

Use Google’s Keyword Planner. You do need to login to a Google Account in order to use it. The tool is designed for advertisers who want to buy keywords with Google AdWords. I consider that a secondary benefit. What I really use the keyword planner for the most is Keyword Research.

I could write an entire series of posts about keyword research, but here it is in a nutshell: keyword research simply tells you how many people per month search for a given keyword. These first page SEO scams will promise ranks for terms that nobody is actually searching for.

So when they optimize your page for one of those terms, you show up first and the SEO firm looks like the hero. What really happened is that you just competed in a race that only you were running in. Of course you’ll be first.

Always ask to see the research and the search volume for the promised terms.

#3: How Long Will This Take?

Many of these empty SEO promises have some sort of timeframe, usually 90 days or less. As a business owner, you want to know how long these things take. It’s a legitimate concern, which is why it’s something shoddy SEO firms like to use to manipulate you into spending your cash with them.

The long and short of it is that nobody knows how long rankings take. It all depends on what keywords you want to optimize for (see 1 and 2 above), but also how competitive those keywords are, the domain authority of your website, the overall quality of your content, etc. The list of variables goes on and on.

Good, long lasting optimization takes time. It takes patience. It takes remarkable content.

#4: What Methods Will You Use to Deliver?

I’m going to touch on something called Black Hat vs White Hat SEO techniques. The technical differences in the execution of these are beyond the scope of this article.

The main differences though, are that Black Hat SEO tends to give you a quick win in the search engines by breaking the rules. You’ll see your “results” right away and the company you paid will be laughing all the way to the bank. Quickly, Google figures out what happened, and your site gets dropped off the search index.

White Hat SEO, on the contrary, focuses on research, content and patience. It takes work to do it right, especially for highly competitive industries.

#5: How Will You Backup Your Guarantee?

This one is the kicker. No company can make a guarantee on something they cannot control. If someone guarantees you a first page ranking, just say “Oh really? Are you Google?” If they claim to work for Google, then you really need to watch out. Google does not publish how their algorithms work and they do not offer SEO services. Don’t buy it if you hear otherwise.

A guarantee is only as good as the person making it. In the case of first page SEO rank, it’s complete and utter garbage.


SEO is not a set-it-and-forget-it effort. It’s an ongoing effort that takes time, patience and great content. The process can only be faked for a very short time. Once you’re caught, it’s very hard to earn your way back.

Nobody can guarantee anything about SEO. The rules change every day and nobody knows what those rules are. All we have are best practices and case studies from those who have gone before us.

If you want to be on the first page of Google, you better do it right or you may not get the chance to do it twice.


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Travis McGinnis

About The Author

Travis McGinnis

I’m passionate about making things happen for our clients, thus generating real and quantifiable results. As the Technical Marketing Manger, I have the joy to touch nearly every aspect of our clients’ inbound marketing efforts. From social media, to blogging, to PPC to lead nurturing, and email marketing. I love generating new ideas and then watching them come to life. In my free time, I brew my own beer with my dad and brother, play with my kids, go on dates with my wife and occasionally get a little gaming in.


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