Not too long ago, one of our longtime clients sent us a video that’s was sent to them from a competing SEO company. They went through the site we designed for them and tried very hard to find anything wrong with what we were doing… some sort of chink in the armor that they could show our client “Here! We can do this better!” Unfortunately for them, they didn’t find much, and once that failed, they turned to a tactic we see used by web marketing companies all too often. We absolutely hate this tactic, and it sours our customers to our whole industry.

What we are talking about is making grandiose promises that you cannot keep, like “We will have you in the top 3 spots on Google within a month!” or “We will triple your revenue in a week!” Luckily, our client was educated enough to know that this was Bullhonkey with a capital B. However, these tactics often work on a lot of unsuspecting business owners who are just trying to find a reputable company to help boost their online marketing.

Since we hear this so often, we really wanted to take a second and break down why:
1.) They can’t promise this, and
2.) There is no way anyone can.

Google isn’t an advertising platform. Google has advertising components, absolutely, but it is first and foremost a search engine. What this means is that Google provides value to its users by getting them the information they are looking for as quickly as possible. Once they stop doing that, we all start “Yahooing” or “Binging” instead. What does that mean for you if you are a business owner?

It means that the only legitimate way to rise in the search engine rankings is to show Google that you are what people are looking for when they search for a specific term. If someone searches for “fuzzy kittens” and clicks your link, Google takes note of that. They thought that they might find what they were looking for on your site.
What then? Did they stay and read your article on fuzzy kittens for 5 minutes before moving on? Or did they bounce off your page 2 seconds later when they realized that your article was nothing close to what they were looking for? Google takes note of this and many other factors, because it needs to know if it can send people to you for “fuzzy kittens” in the future.

Knowing that Google’s motivation is to get their users the info they are looking for as quickly as possible, lets take the next logical step. When an “SEO” company wants to boost traffic for a client, what do they do? They can:

1.) Design a website that is friendly to users on the front end and search engines on the back end, and then help generate relevant content to try to drive customers to your site who are looking for what you are selling, OR
2.) They can try to trick Google. Maybe target keywords in your web content that will bring people in, even if they aren’t looking for what you are offering. They can try to create illegitimate backlinks to try and increase your traffic and domain authority. They can try a million things that might trick the algorithm in the short term, but which will ultimately penalize you long term.

Which one do you think Google prefers? Which site do you think is an example of what they are trying to target to get their users where they need to go?

With that point made, here’s another question. What does “top 3 spots on Google” even mean? Sure, it sounds great, but think about it for a second. If we search for “Tampa Chicken Wings”, it will pull up the following results:

And if we search for “Chicken Wings Brandon”, we get these results:

So does that mean Fox13 is in the “top 3 spots” for chicken wings on Google in the Tampa area, or not? Throw in the fact that Google offers you search results based on the location you are searching from, and it makes it even more obvious. The promise this company made was just nonsense. Who cares if you are in the “top 3 results” for a specific search term in a specific area? That isn’t what matters.
What matters is, how many people are finding you online, and how many are taking action once they do? Is your traffic from organic searches increasing over time, or decreasing?
This is what online marketing is ultimately all about, and ironically, its just like everything else in life. You do the right thing and work hard, and over time, it yields results. Try to cheat or take shortcuts, and just like in life, its going to bite you in the rear end every time.
The takeaway is this: Businesses will sink or swim based on how well they take care of their customers and the quality of the product or service they provide. The web didn’t change this very simple and central principle of business. Web marketing is a tool to get your brand in front of more people so that your superior service, product, and customer care can win them over and grow your business. It is not a game you can play to “trick” a search engine to sending more people your way, and if you try, you are ultimately only hurting yourself and your business.
Find a web marketing company that is going to put in the hard work of researching what people are typing in when looking for companies like yours online, and then generating web content that is useful and relevant to those people. Find a company that is going to use every avenue available… email marketing, social media, on and off page SEO… to get that content to people who are using the web to search for it. And then, do a great job for your customers.