No one can guarantee your rank in search results

Depending on the type of business, some website owners are too eager to push the rank of their site to the top 10, or even to number 1. This is desirable from money making perspective because higher rank means more people can see and visit your website to avail your products or services (or see or click on your advertisements if you're into that kind of business).

The advantage of ranking on top of search engines made some website and business owners to expect unrealistic results from search engine optimizers. A number of times, I encountered job postings in some freelance job websites requiring the bidder/freelancer to put their website on number 1 or else they won't pay. I find it rather silly that some people are actually willing to take this kind of job. These bidders either do not know what they are doing or are using deceptive techniques (a.k.a. blackhat SEO) that would not be good for your website in the long run.

Google said no one can guarantee SERP position

According to Google Webmasters/Site owners Help, "No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google." Well, that's it! Google themselves said so. I would suggest that you check that page because it contains everything you need to know and to expect before hiring a search engine optimization (SEO) expert, or before trying and learning how to do SEO by yourself.

Search engines continuously modify their systems

The objective of search engines is to provide the best possible results for certain search queries. Here, the word "best" means the best website in terms of its usefulness to humans. While search engines can never perfect their system (and therefore there will be always people out there who can exploit the flaws in the system), they continuously improve the system to the point that whoever attains to rank high by exploiting the flaws would not stay there for too long. Instead of spending time looking for flaws, you should use that time producing the best content for human users.

New websites in particular should not expect to rank high in search results

Websites are like professionals. The longer you are staying in the industry and consistently producing the same high quality (not necessarily the best results), the easier it is for people to trust you. In the same manner, search engines trust older sites that provide quality content rather than new sites. Some possible exceptions are:

  • the domain was old in a sense that it was registered several years back, but it was only put into actual use at the same day, week or month as the newer site
  • the older website is using search-engine unfriendly technology such as flash
  • the older website is very rarely or was never updated
  • the newer website contained all the words that are being searched but not the older website, e.g., the user searched for "blue green red widget", the older site contains the words blue, green, violet, orange and widget while the newer site contains blue, greed, red, violet and widget
  • the older website was banned by search engines for using black hat SEO techniques

Age factor is one of the few things that webmasters can never influence. They can influence the content, the backlinks, etc but not the age of their website. Some black hat practioners will try to circumvent it by buying an old domain immediately after it expire. However, search engines now treat recently bought expired domains as new domain. Therefore, the age factor of these domains are back to zero. The only realistic way an aspiring website owner or online entrepreneur can capitalize on age factor is to buy an existing website and not drastically change the main topic of its content.

If there's no guarantee, why should I bother paying for search engine optimization?

The only thing that search engine optimizers (or SEO experts) can really guarantee is to make your website search engine friendly. Meaning, he or she can examine the codes and structure of your website and see if there is anything in it that makes it difficult for search engines to crawl your website. Some of the things that a SEO expert can do, or recommend to you or your webmaster:

  • appropriate keywords for title tags (should have all important keywords, but it should also be coherent and not look spammy)
  • check what keywords web users frequently use that are appropriate for your website by using tools such as Google Adwords Keyword Tool
  • restructure your site from pure flash or frames into pure HTML, CMS-powered (content management system, like blogs and wikis) or any structure wherein the content is visible to search engine spiders
  • construct a sitemap for easier crawling and indexing of search engines
  • provide initial set of backlinks so that search engine spiders can crawl your website from those links (around 10 backlinks should be enough, having around 500 backlinks in just a week for new websites tells search engines that you are spamming and can get your website banned)

You should avoid SEO experts that claim they can guarantee your ranking in search engine results

As I said earlier, it is either they do not know what they are doing or they are using black hat techniques.

Some new website designers or search engine optimizers tend to promise everything just to get clients, promising Heaven and Earth just to get the job (and the pay). Then, they would start applying some search engine techniques that they know, and if they didn't reach the rank that they want to achieve, will resort to black hat techniques. They may succeed or may not. If they succeed, that rank will not be permanent (unless you update it regurly) because search engines will eventually change algorithm.

If they used black hat techniques (such as overly aggressive backlink generation), say goodbye to your top position because search engines will eventually see the trick and penalize (or worst ban) your website. Some black hat practitioners will intentionally use black hat techniques to impress you that they can indeed put your website on top of search results. Then, few days or weeks after you payed them, you top ranking is gone because search engine already saw the trick and penalized you for it.

Another type of SEO Expert claiming that they can guarantee your search result position goes like this. They will type the name of your company in search engine text box. When your website appeared to no. 1, they will claim it as the result of their work. Of course, if no one else use your company name, you can easily top the search results for that name. Another gimmick is to find a rare word or phrase within your content and demonstrate that you top the search results using that word or phrase. The question is: Are these the keywords that your target clients search in search engines?

Conclusion

No search engine optimizers, no matter how good they are, can guarantee your position in search engines. That's a fact. Position in search engines depends on several factors like the age of the website, the content of the website and the actual string of words that the web users use. No SEO expert can control these. Therefore, no one can guarantee a specific search result position. Black hat practitioners might be able to assure your position but search engines will soon notice them and ban your site. The best thing you or your SEO expert can do is to make your website search engine friendly, develop quality content and update it on a regular basis.

Posted under category: Search Engine Optimization

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