Client – “Can you guarantee me first page rankings on Google for my website?”

Me – “No, no I can’t.”

Yes, it is difficult being a salesperson in digital marketing. SEO is the toughest because I cannot, and should not promise…anything. I stand before a prospect and I can give all of the reasoning in the world, but I will make no guarantees. Why? Because of the Search Engines themselves. The common theme from any reputable agency is “do not promise your clients that they will rank higher”. Whether you accomplish this or not, you would be telling a lie.

Why Doesn’t Google Just Tell Us?

The reason being is that none of us know the secret recipe that is the algorithm. Believe me a lot of research has gone into creating it and more likely, even more has gone into trying to figure out what it is by businesses from all around the world. But in the end, it is confidential to allow for fair competition.

“If you publish high quality content that is highly cited on the Internet – and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding… Then you are doing great.” – Gary Illyes – Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google

That is about as definitive an answer as we in the industry get.

Many influential SEO practitioners get the opportunity to directly ask the questions we are all wondering and the answers often are:

  • Could Be
  • Might
  • Possibly
  • In some cases

Those of us in the industry spend a great deal of time in researching and testing what works and and what can cause harm when it comes to these algorithms. Since the search engines do not provide the details of how the algorithms work, an entire industry designated as SEO was born to try and figure it out. It may sound like an odd situation. Why wouldn’t Google and the others want everyone to know the best way to have their website rank on their result pages?

Would We Understand The Algorithm Even If It Was Given To Us?

One of the reasons we are not given the formula is that likely the top 500 companies in the world would carve it up, analyze it and produce websites that would rank for every competitive term on the planet and those would be the search results everyone would receive when running a search. How quickly would we stop using Google at that point.

If someone secretly snuck a flash drive out of Google headquarters and handed it to me with the instructions that only I could use it, no one else. I wouldn’t understand 98% of what I was looking at.

This goes for most people and businesses. I know this because I see simple things that most people miss. I have seen websites that leave code in their site that tells Google NOT to crawl them. Do you think most people would know what to do with the secret sauce?

I have gone to extremes here but I want to make the point that the best thing Google can do is keep the details vague and provide guidance. And the best thing a digital agency can do is not make promises but use creativity, logic and best practices to achieve results for their clients.

Search engines rely almost completely upon mathematical formulas to process the billions of pages on the web. It is the only way they can properly index this overwhelming amount of information. This being said, behind this math are intentions based upon twenty years of experience in assigning value to all of the details that go into SERP’s. What this means is even though a numerical value is given to a particular element online, there was thought put into how much weight that one item carries.