Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog

Google Adwords Unconditional Money-back Guarantees!

OK – let me clarify my post title. Google doesn’t really offer an Adwords Unconditional Money-Back Guarantee…..but they should since they say that SEO’s should do this….practice what you preach….or change what you preach Google.

The page that ranks #4 in Google for "SEO" is the old "Google Information for Webmasters" – since renamed "What’s an SEO? Does Google recommend working with companies that offer to make my site Google-friendly?"

Yea, I know I’ve ripped into more Google’s webmaster recommendations before, but the last bullet point called "Make sure you’re protected legally." really gets my goat (makes me mad) where it states:

For your own safety, you should insist on a full and unconditional money-back guarantee. Don’t be afraid to request a refund if you’re unsatisfied for any reason, or if your SEO’s actions cause your domain to be removed from a search engine’s index. Make sure you have a contract in writing that includes pricing. The contract should also require the SEO to stay within the guidelines recommended by each search engine for site inclusion.

I don’t offer any unconditional guarantee… you? Does Google with Adwords (shouldn’t they practice what they preach?) Is it smart to offer an unconditional money-back guarantee for SEO Services? Why would Google say this??

PS – tomorrow I’ll chat about my experience at hostingcon where I spoke on "How Google Ranks Websites".


15 Responses

  1. Yeah, right! This way if Google changes their algo all SEO’s will go bust. Google would love that. Then even less results will be relevant.

    I’ll offer a guarantee when Google tell us step by step all the factors they use to judge and rank a site. If they do that, then I can offer a guarantee. It’s like asking a doctor to refund you if he doesn’t cure you cancer.

    They don’t care for SEO’s yet Matt Cutts tell us all the time what to avoid. So, which is it?

  2. Geez, I specifically tell clients there are no guarantees (I also blah blah blah about ethics and white hat, as appropriate to the client) – I offer the explanation that because it is controlled by a third party I can’t offer a guarantee. And heres that 3rd party telling me I should offer one! Hahaha! ๐Ÿ™

  3. Yeah, it is extremely funny (or notorious) in a number of ways.

    First of all, an unconditioned refund is another way to get booted by not so honest clients, who were overexpecting something.

    Also, any _reputable_ SEO can’t and won’t give any guarantees on his clients sites’ success. He can only guarantee he will do everything he can, but no results guaranteed.

    And lastly, PPC is a form of SEO. So Google should, indeed, offer an uncondiditonal refund guarantee.

    And I don’t think Google is to give any advice how to handle SEOs. Sure, clients don’t know how to do that, but let other reputable SEOs educate the clients how to deal with the professionals.

    Here are a couple of threads just about this:

    That being said, I have read somewhere lately that an unconditional guarantee for a _product_ will boost the sales. And I believe it is true. It may work for a SEO, but I’d be careful to write that a client can get his money for free in a contract. This looks like free SEO service to me. Instead, a SEO can include a clause he doesn’t guarantee anything except his efforts.

  4. Wow, Mr. Boykin. That’s scary, and annoying!
    And weird that I just published a guide this evening explaining to eBayers how to judge whether an SEO is a pro or not.
    One of my main points:
    They will NOT offer you a guarantee.

    Thanks for posting this. I wonder how many aggravating conversations I’m going to have explaining to potential clients, “Well, uh, I don’t know why Google says that, but uhm, you should listen to me, not Google’. That’ll be fun!

  5. seo and ppc management are professional services, why would there be an unconditional guarantee? my accountant doesn’t give me my money back if my tax return isn’t what i hoped for.

    aren’t we lucky to have google managing our business models and contracts now? that’s really nice of them.

  6. No Jim, we certainly do NOT offer such a guarantee – I cannot imagine anyone doing so, unless of course they are insane.

    As for Google, they say exactly what they need to say, IMO, to make regular people not trust any SEO – even those seo’s who have been out here for years, show a great track record, and are – hands down – completely legit.

    Gotta love G, huh?

  7. I have to wonder if Google insists on money-back guarantees from their legal representation if they don’t win in court. I don’t imagine they’d be able to hire any attorney worth his salt if they did.

  8. Hmm… so I guess I should ask Google to refund me thousands of dollars I have spent with AdWords that did not convert into sales… I mean.. that is fair isn’t it?

    I always make sure my customers know up front that I am not billing them for rankings or any kind of guarantee of increased business. Instead… they understand they are paying for my years of experience and the time we spend making their site “Google Friendly” ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I’m glad someone finally spoke out about this…

    No, we don’t offer guarantees. If good SEO is about more than just improving your short-term rankings in Google, why would a guarantee be suggested?

    Think about it.

    Google says that the most effective search engine optimization takes the long-term interests of users into account. Not just content, but quality content. Not just links, but relevant links. Focus on good website architecture. Focus on usability.

    However – if my company were to offer a guarantee, our clear financial incentive would be to ignore the long-term, and focus instead on getting very short-term SEO results. We would meet the obligation of the guarantee (to stay in business), but in the long-term, the client would suffer. Google would suffer (because more black-hats would exist), and the user would suffer as well.

    Cutts has done a great job evangelizing what are, essentially, white-hat techniques. The guarantee game, however, is not well-suited for white-hats who focus on good, long-term, value creation. Those who focus not just on rankings, but on ranking for the right terms and creating business.

  10. Yeah – in the normal guy’s head Google is probably the most authoritive source on how search engines work or should work… including the industries around…

    and they MISUSE it – and this is EVIL … ๐Ÿ™‚

    I always tell my clients – “no guarantees – remember those guys spamming you to offfer a top10 google placement for $999 ” ???

    Anyway – the goal here is of course to drive people away from organic to adwords – and even if Adwords has no money-back, you can easily count the clicks – and this measurability allows google to point back and say “Hey- your site quality is low, THAT’s the reason why you don’t convert”

    I wish we would have a closed-loop short response system in SEO – but that’s just ONE reason for all those delays, dampening factors, link degrades, etc.etc… make SEOs and SEO clients mad


  11. So.. now that Google is using a quality score with adwords, isn’t this much like SEO and creating ‘landing’ or ‘doorway’ pages that are exclusively for the engines?

    “Make pages for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, which is commonly referred to as “cloaking.”

    Sure the overall context is ‘don’t cloak’ but most landing pages from adwords probably shouldn’t be given to normal site visitors no?

  12. You can offer a guarantee, just not a guarantee for results. You can guarantee:

    1. Answering all their questions.
    2. Close personal attention.
    3. Prompt return emails and phone calls.
    4. Confidential service.

    Etc. You just need to be creative as to what you guarantee.

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Jim Boykin
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