Cole-Parmer teamed up with RankSense to develop creative ways to improve their organic search snippets and ultimately boost conversion rates.READ POST
What if you could get a guarantee when you hire an SEO firm? Not a guarantee of impressions or rankings or eyes on your site, but an actual dollar-value guarantee?
RankSense offers a guaranteed lift in revenue of 15% with our SEO software and in collaboration with agency partners. Such a guarantee is virtually non-existent amongst reputable SEO firms.
We believe in offering a guaranteed lift in revenue because it aligns our goals with the goals of our clients. We are only successful if our clients are – this is how it should be.
Here’s the caveat:
We are able to offer this guarantee because we are selective about who we work with. We will only sign on a client if we’re confident that they will be successful with us. More on that later.
It’s no secret:
The consensus amongst reputable SEO firms is that you cannot offer guaranteed rankings.
Josh Steimle explains in his article “Why the Best SEO Firms Don’t Offer Guaranteed Results” that rankings are inherently unstable, and are in fact, a poor metric for overall performance.
(We would agree on those points.)
Moz’s Rand Fishkin echoed similar sentiments in an older article.
Google itself warns that no one can guarantee a #1 ranking.
However, if the only way that you know to increase organic traffic is to increase rankings, you will find yourself facing clear limitations.
Even if we shift the focus from rankings to more tangible metrics like organic traffic and revenue, there are still several reasons why SEO experts don’t offer guarantees:
If all of the SEO recommendations are not completed, or if they aren’t correctly executed, results can be impacted through no fault of the SEO firm.
If the client is making other changes to the website at the same time as SEO changes are being made, they may impact organic traffic and/or revenue.
SEO changes take time to implement and are often rolled out gradually. It also takes time for search engines to pick up changes. These delays can be several months in total, so even with good results, it’s difficult to link the effect to its cause.
Google is continuously tweaking its algorithms to ensure it can deliver the most relevant content to its users. In the past, major algorithm changes have suddenly altered the SEO landscape. SEO experts are highly aware that what works today might not work in a few months.
Reputable SEO experts avoid guarantees for good reason. From their perspective, it’s the ethical thing to do.
Unfortunately, some who offer SEO services are unethical. They know that it commonly takes six months to see SEO results. Clients expect to pay for SEO services for several months before they see the payoff.
These unethical SEOs can use tactics that are ultimately ineffective or even harmful, but they will have gotten their paycheck anyway. They take advantage of the fact that no one expects a guarantee in SEO.
At a small company, six months of effort with no results can have a big impact. That budget could have been allocated to another channel that would have been more effective. It could even cost someone their job.
That is part of why we offer a guarantee: to allay client fears about SEO.
However, the guarantee serves a greater purpose than that. Our guarantee is offered to clients who choose our revenue-share pricing option. This means that the more successful our clients are, the more successful we are.
Thus, our company culture is centered on results, not activity.
By focusing on results, we align our culture and processes with client expectations.
Clients focus on ROI; so do we.
In B2B, ROI-focused companies stand the test of time. By combining a guarantee with revenue sharing, we create win-wins with our clients.
Of course, many SEO experts would probably like to offer guarantees, but they don’t for all the reasons mentioned earlier. So how is it possible for us to guarantee results?
There are five reasons we are able to offer a guarantee when other SEO firms cannot:
In traditional SEO, the focus is on building a website’s reputation. In many ways, it’s akin to brand marketing — you aim to raise awareness of your site and credibility in search engines’ eyes by creating high-quality, shareable content. If you are in publishing, this approach has strong advantages. It gets more visitors to your site, which is what you need to be successful.
However, if you are in ecommerce, you need more than visitors — you need visitors that are qualified and motivated to buy. Your goal is for visitors to complete some action on your site, usually a transaction. For ecommerce, we manage SEO as a direct response channel, instead of as a brand marketing channel. We have been able to reliably drive results with this approach.
To understand how we manage SEO as a direct response channel, let me take you back in time to 2012. Google Shopping (then known as Google Product Search) was free. Back then, marketers didn’t pay much attention to their product listings. It didn’t cost anything to list products, but optimizing product listings took a lot of time. Often, minimal effort was invested.
Today, etailers pay for every click, so they hire agencies or a dedicated employee to manage their PLAs.
Our approach to SEO is to manage it as if it were a paid search channel. We want to maximize the value of every click. It does take a lot of work to do manually, but we’ve streamlined that effort (more on this in a minute).
Recall the concern that search engine algorithms are a moving target?
The best practices for Direct Response SEO don’t change much, so we don’t have to worry about new algorithms destroying our work.
I’ll let you in on a secret:
There is a significant hurdle in SEO that isn’t talked about much.
Want to know what it is?
Actually getting all of the recommendations implemented.
Sometimes the clients’ developers are inundated with other tasks. Sometimes there’s a large amount of tedious work that falls by the wayside. And sometimes, the ecommerce platform will not even allow you to make the recommended changes.
Our SEO platform allows us to implement all of our recommendations, on any platform.
Busy developers? They don’t need to lift a finger after installing our platform.
Tedious tasks? They’ll all be automated.
Platform issues? We will totally circumvent it.
How our platform is able to do all of this? That is a bigger topic than I can cover here, but you can read more about how it works.
Most SEO experts aren’t able to ensure that their clients implement the recommendations completely and without error, so it’s risky to offer a guarantee. Even if they are confident in their recommendations, the recommendations may not get executed.
Much of foundational SEO work is time-consuming. And tedious. And technical. These qualities make it less-than-fun for humans, but perfect for computers.
We use automation and artificial intelligence to execute SEO recommendations en masse across your site.
I could go on at length about how exciting it is to be able to automate the boring stuff, but the point is this – automation helps us offer a guarantee.
Because the bulk of the work is automated, we don’t have the same investment of man-hours into our SEO work as most agencies doing manual work. If a client wasn’t seeing results and needed to exercise their right to a guarantee, the SEO agency will have already spent a considerable amount on wages for their staff to create content, market it, and so on. We don’t have the same cost structure as agencies who do SEO manually.
When the SEO process takes months, and involves a lot of different changes happening at the same time, it’s difficult to link success (or failure) to the exact cause.
Automation enables us to implement changes quickly, which is great. But it also allows us to track every change to the website and the impact it has on traffic.
It becomes pretty clear what changes led to an increase in traffic.
In our app, we are able to track what effect a given change had.
When SEO recommendations are applied to the site, we track the effect the recommendations have on traffic, click-through rate and revenue. If you’re interested in how our platform works, we have more details here.
This takes care of two of the objections to SEO guarantees:
We are selective about who we work with because we want to create win-win situations with our clients.
We’ve learned quite a bit about how to predict who will be a good fit for us, and who won’t. To assess fit, we first scan the prospective client’s site for high-impact foundational SEO issues.
Then we do a business case with the client to see if a relationship would be profitable for both the client and ourselves.
If the client has big SEO problems that our software can solve, then we can be confident that we can deliver results. If not, then we aren’t a good fit for them, and we shouldn’t be taking their money anyway.
Since we measure performance, we are able to improve our ability to judge who will be a good fit for us. We may not succeed 100% of the time, but we learn from our mistakes and become more selective.
When we offer our guarantee, we are also entering into a partnership. We’re agreeing to be paid on revenue sharing, so we’re invested in the outcome. For that reason, we partner with companies that have a clearly differentiated value proposition and a solid reputation. These companies deserve to rank highly.
Companies with a lean digital marketing team tend to be a good fit. There is often one person who is responsible for multiple marketing channels. The digital marketer has limited time and resources to devote to SEO, but ambitious growth goals. We’re able to offload time-consuming tasks onto the software, and provide our SEO expertise to guide their efforts.
We’re also a good fit for an in-house SEO manager who is responsible for multiple brand websites or a very large site. For these clients, we provide a scalable, low-maintenance solution for tedious work so that the in-house person can focus on the elements of SEO that need a human touch.
We offer a guaranteed increase in organic revenue to qualified clients. Select agency partners are able to make the same guarantee. Here is how the guarantee works:
We allow a period of three months for your site to be optimized and for those changes to be picked up by search engines. Beginning in the fourth month, for a total of 12 consecutive months, we guarantee an increase in YOY organic traffic of 15% or more. If we fall short of that goal, we will issue credits that can be spent on consulting hours or software subscription fees.
We calculate the amount of credits on a quarterly basis as a percentage of the fees that you paid for that quarter. For example, if you only see an improvement in organic revenue of 7.5% in months 4-6, we will issue credits equal to 50% of the fees you paid for those three months. If we are up to a 10% improvement in months 7-10, we will issue credits equal to 33% of that quarter’s fees.
Our guarantee is a reflection of our commitment to your success. If we fall short of our goal, we will continue working until we reach it, and surpass it.
Some potential clients may have been burned by SEO vendors in the past, and might have concerns about negative repercussions of using our service. So, we further guarantee that if your site is penalized by search engines, or your traffic is negatively impacted by work that we did, we will refund 100% of your fees. We will also give you a year of free consulting until we reverse the problem and raise your traffic above where it was before we started working with you.
We make these guarantees so that our clients know we will be a trusted partner. We’re able to offer them for all the reasons listed above, but also because in all my years of getting great SEO results for clients, I haven’t seen the need to cut any corners.
I jokingly tell prospects, “I’ve only been doing SEO for 16 years.” I know from experience what SEO issues present a good opportunity to create ROI. And of course, that experience is built into our processes, our team, and our software to make sure we can deliver.