Natural Search Blog


Network Solutions Guarantees Search Engine Rankings

I received a note from Network Solutions today with the subject line of “Good Luck Isn’t a Guarantee – Getting Found Online Is”, promoting their search engine optimization services. Nothing remarkable in that, since lots of large hosting companies and related firms are pushing SEO to small businesses as another line of value-add services. However, what is remarkable is that they push this promotion out with a guarantee of top 10 rankings in major search engines:

Network Solutions SEO Guarantee
“Guaranteed Top 10 Rankings on Major Search Engines”

Now, if you’ve been around the search marketing industry very long at all, you’re probably aware that most of the guides for “picking the right SEO firm” or “how to choose an ethical SEO” recommend staying away from companies which guarantee rankings. For instance, check out the advice from Shari Thurow, David Wallace, MarketingProfs Thought Leaders Summit, and Chris Sherman.

For that matter, Google themselves warn against companies which promise rankings:

“Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings…”

The reason why search marketing experts recommend against agencies that promise top rankings is that (1) agencies don’t control the search engines – they are autonomous and will rank whatever sites they wish, (2) for some types of industries and keywords there is already a huge amount of competition and smaller companies may not be able to outrank already-established contenders.

Good search marketing agencies do guarantee that they’ll use the best practices and methods they’ve found effective in the past to help improve overall rankings. This is just like the stock market, though, and the caveat that applies to investment firms and stock purchasing apply to search engine marketing similarly: past results do not guarantee future performance.

Obsessing over one or two desirable or prestigious keywords may actually be ineffective, depending on your situation. As we’ve seen many times over at Netconcepts, the long tail of natural search is where most companies may find the “holy grail” of ecommerce. Instead of spending 90% of your effort on ranking for a couple of prestige terms, spending that effort across your site on a great many pages and term combinations can result in small, incremental ranking improvements for many thousands or millions of less-popular keyword search phrase combinations, resulting in far greater traffic than is found through prestige terms. Sure, keyword ranking is important, but the Law of Diminishing Returns applies here – for some industries, the amount of effort required to get ranking on a popular term may be so high that it both costs you resources that would be better spent on your many other potential keywords, and the prestige term ranking could be entirely unattainable anyway.

I now see that others have been also decrying Network Solutions’ guarantees as well (Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable , Gabriel Goldenberg at SEOmoz , etc.).

It’s amazing to me that Network Solutions continues to promise rankings in spite of this being such an obvious worst practice. This might be a case where industry certifications would help. Astonishing that they blithely continue to market themselves in this way, despite industry criticism!

13 comments for Network Solutions Guarantees Search Engine Rankings »

  1. MyAvatars 0.2

    Thanks for this fantastic article! There were lots of interesting and useful information provided.

    Comment by Helen — 3/3/2008 @ 7:08 pm


  2. MyAvatars 0.2

    Geez Network Solutions is out of its mind. They steal domain names, they charge incredible fees for registering there… and now this.

    Comment by Shycon — 3/3/2008 @ 7:56 pm


  3. MyAvatars 0.2

    With a very small bit of luck a SEO COULD guarantee a top 10 positions.
    Heaven knows I have gotten every one of my clients on the first page.
    It just depends on what key phrase is chosen and the amount of modifications to their site the client allows

    A term like Sqid milkers in Bottomsup Wisconsin would most assuredly hit the #1 spot.

    Reg

    Comment by Reg DCP — 3/4/2008 @ 6:36 pm


  4. MyAvatars 0.2

    Reg, you’re sorta proving my point: for uncontested keyword combinations, sure, it’s not all that hard to rank well in many cases.

    But, if you had something like a tiny bed-and-breakfast site that wanted to rank for something like “chicago hotels” in Google, I think it’d be highly unrealistic to guarantee that. To set up clients that are search engine newbies by representing that you can get them on page 1 for their desired keywords is likely to result in a number of cases where Network Solutions simply can’t deliver on what they’ve promised.

    The cannot in good conscience represent that they can achieve top 10 rankings in SERPs when they don’t control the search engines, and there are potentially other, more-relevant/more-deserving sites which may already be in the top 10 SERPs.

    This sort of practice potentially makes everyone in the SEO industry look bad when these people are encouraged to have unrealistic expectations only to end up getting disappointed.

    That’s why most top SEOs will agree that no one should guarantee rankings, and this is why we tell people NOT to contract with companies making such representations.

    Comment by Chris Silver Smith — 3/4/2008 @ 9:36 pm


  5. MyAvatars 0.2

    Ridiculous. I used to rely heavily on Network Solutions but moved on a few years back. This just reinforces my decision.

    Comment by AdmiralAddy — 3/6/2008 @ 12:45 pm


  6. MyAvatars 0.2

    Network Solutions is somewhat unethical IMHO. Their domain renewal fees are twice that of comparable registrars. When requested tranfer of all my domains there to another vendor, they called me and offered to cut the renewal fee to under ten dollars. In other words, you’ve been jobbing me all along, and now you want me to renew with you. Yeah, right!

    Comment by SpiderMonkey — 3/6/2008 @ 12:49 pm


  7. MyAvatars 0.2

    What happens when they get more than 10 clients in a category? How can they guarantee a top ten result? Network Solutions has really taken a turn for the worst in the last couple years. Scary to see that one of the pioneers of the internet is now such a JOKE and clueless.

    Comment by WiredMike — 3/6/2008 @ 1:03 pm


  8. MyAvatars 0.2

    Thanks for this article. I have a new sales member on board who is kind of new to the industry and we were having this conversation yesterday as to why you never make guarantees in SEO. This article expalins it beautifully. :)

    Comment by Tampa SEO — 3/6/2008 @ 1:22 pm


  9. MyAvatars 0.2

    Network Solutions is shady and so is anyone else who “guarantees” search engine rankings. There are too many variables to be able to say that you can guarantee someone a listing for a highly competitive keyword. Especially in advance of seeing their site. The domain selling business must be hurting..lol.

    Comment by Catfish SEO — 3/6/2008 @ 2:41 pm


  10. MyAvatars 0.2

    I’ve been looking at the Network Solutions SEO package, thinking about buying it. They’re pretty good for business hosting – reliable and reasonably priced.

    The guarantee doesn’t strike me as a scam, but it’s not exactly valuable either. The reality is that they make you choose so many keywords (20 or more) to get a guarantee, that you’re bound to have at least 5 low competition keywords in the mix. Those are going to end up on the front page, even with little effort (hell, I know very little about SEO, and I managed to get my site on the front page for a few words) and they’re going to “earn” your fee by hitting the guarantee.

    That’s why I haven’t bought the package.

    BTW, I’m still looking for a good SEO to help with my site (www.triumphdining.com). If you’re interested, please visit our contact us package and drop me a quick note.

    Thanks,
    Ross

    Comment by Ross — 3/9/2008 @ 7:25 am


  11. MyAvatars 0.2

    Hello, this is a very well written article. Its one thing to guarantee improvement on their rankings, but to guarantee a top 10 for say a very over saturated keyword is a whole new story and most of the times a scam in one way or another.

    Comment by NewSunSEO — 3/13/2008 @ 11:17 am


  12. MyAvatars 0.2

    There’s so much to pick apart – starting with their ”
    For Example:
    You own a shoe store in New York City… user enters keywords like “running shoes NYC” or “Manhattan shoes”…
    So what about a guarantee for just “New York City shoe store” ??

    Then of course there’s the “first page search results in one or more of 12 search engines”… when only 4 engines get real traffic.

    But as much as I hate to be a buzz-killer here, I can envision them meeting their targets.

    Just leveraging the ‘parking’/'coming soon’ pages they control, combined with their unsavory ‘domain tasting’ practices… they have the power to throw-up an awful lotta keyword links.

    Forget whether they really do site SEO…

    Comment by MrBits — 4/24/2008 @ 12:49 pm


  13. MyAvatars 0.2

    Ridiculous. I used to rely heavily on Network Solutions but moved on a few years back. This just reinforces my decision.

    Comment by Bathroom Glasgow — 1/15/2010 @ 7:14 pm


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