Google Changes Its Mind About Money-Back SEO

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Business makes strange bedfellows. Just in time for the FTC to approve Google’s acquisition of DoubleClick, and with it an SEO firm called Performics, the company has changed its tune a bit about how to deal with SEO companies.

For the longest time, Google advised webmasters to be wary of SEO companies, and put up this warning at the Webmaster Help Center:

"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."Google Changes Its Mind About Money-Back SEO

Performics, it was pointed out by astute observers, didn’t offer such a guarantee. In light of that revelation (the blogosphere is crediting Matt Cutts with pushing the change), Google simplified the language and let itself off the hook a bit:

"Don’t be afraid to request a refund if you’re unsatisfied with your SEO’s performance. 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."

Google has said in the past that it has no intention of selling off Performics, but that could change too as more and more conflicts of interest emerge. It’s already awkward that Google will have to change some policy wording (with regard to not having relationships with SEOs or SEOs not speaking on behalf of Google) and that Performics sells links, but as Danny Sullivan notes in a Sphinn comment section, if Google keeps the company the two will have to watch either like hawks:

"Google’s going to have to worry about everything Performics does; Performics will have to be hypersensitive that they don’t somehow violate a Google guideline."

Google Changes Its Mind About Money-Back SEO
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  • http://www.condomman.com Trojan Fan

    They should spin off Performics and sell it as quick as they can. Garage sale if they have to. It’s just not worth the potential bad publicity and the cost of constant monitoring. Agreed, they could probably make it work as long as the two companies worked out of separate buildings – in seperate states – and made sure no insider info was traded, but I don’t see enough of an upside of owning Performics to go through all that. Certainly there’s more worthwhile companies out there for Google to buy.

  • Pete

    I think stating:

    “Google’s going to have to worry about everything Performics does; Performics will have to be hypersensitive that they don’t somehow violate a Google guideline.”

    is over hyping the issue. Couldn’t this statement be applied to any two companies that vertically integrate? Determining how the two entities play together is certaily something they’ll have to figure out, but given their individual successes, increases the probability in my mind that they’ll figure something out. In addition, Googles a bit more dominant a dollar driver than Performics. The acquistion isn’t about Performics, so if there’s conflices, I’ll make a bet who will win.

  • http://www.seo-1-marketing-services.com Semul

    Does Google Guarantee that ROI when selling Pay Per Click or even Money back??? Also What are SEO companies suppose to Guarantee?? Sounds like guaranteeing substantial improvements is reasonable? again how would you benchmark such guarantees? I think many SEO companies like other business will start offering guarantees written by a 20 lawyers with many if and buts… I think it goes back to the old principle… if you dont feel comfortable with the person on the other side of the phone dont do business with him/her. Remember the saying if you have doubt get out!

  • http://www.rankbetterseo.com/ Better Search Engine Rank

    asking for a money back guarantee is not a bad thing if its reasonable.  For example if your site gets banned from the search engines becuase the seo firm did some black hat seo or the site has not got past the 2nd page for any of the keywords. Just be reasonable when asking for a guarantee.. Don’t dive into the "rankings" guarantee becuase it will just be a mess.

    • http://www.kruse.co.uk/ BB for Kruse Internet Services

      I’m surprised that anyone even considers guaranteeing their SEO work when the nature of the web is so volatile and let’s face it, who can define any of the SEO terms? Put five SEOs in a room and you’ll have five different ideas about what any term means. Try enforcing a guarantee expressed in those terms! Ain’t gonna happen, not in my book. Plus anyone can offer guaranteed top rankings but for what terms, that’s what you should ask!


  • http://www.hemroidshelp.com hemroids

    What I do not understand is the stance that Google takes regarding SEO. Only 5 websites out of a possibility ot millions for each keyword phrase are going to be top 5. Everyone else needs to do paid search, or advertising / SEM / other Marketing.

    The fact that a company works harder than another to provide a product or service that will sell is almost moot point, unless Google.com is all of a sudden about ethics and not earnings.

  • http://www.crbuses.com used buses

    Bad SEO companies are a dime a dozen, it doesn’t take much to see that. Part of this in my opinion is due to lack of knowledge. There is so much misinformation out there about what good SEO is, and since SEO is such big money and is the flavor of the last two years, companies throw their money away to the first SEO that can promise results.

  • http://www.seovisions.com SEO Company

    And yet, Google of course did sell off Performics. Definitely Google likes to throw a few curve balls from time to time to both businessmen and professional SEO’s.

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