Like most people, I receive a fair chunk of spam each week, and as I’m in the SEO business and listed on plenty of SEO related sites, I get quite a few emails relating to online marketing. The other day I received an email from a company ‘guaranteeing’ that they could get my website listed at number one on the first page of Google for my major keyword phrase.

I find it appalling that today there are still companies out there trying to fool people into thinking that this is possible. There can never be a guarantee, simply because there are too many variables involved, none of which are known by anyone other than Google. The only company in the world who could ever offer a guarantee of a top organic placement is Google themselves. The email wasn’t from them.

The odd thing is that this email was sent to me – did the company not notice that I’m already in the search engine marketing business, and already ranked at the top of Google? Clearly not, which means that they’re making a huge number of assumptions. They don’t know my major keyword phrase, they don’t know the nature of my business, they don’t know the amount of competition, they don’t know what approaches my competitors are applying, and therefore which approaches are likely to be more effective in promoting my company, and they don’t know how Google works, or how it might change at any given moment. In fact, the only thing they do know is that I have a website. The gap between their knowledge and their guarantee is likely to be about as wide as the gap between their abilities and reality.

I came across a lady last week who had been with a rogue SEO company that was taking £1,500 from her business every year for ‘SEO services’. She wasn’t too clear what these services were as she didn’t have time to investigate the murky and confusing world of online marketing herself, but after an investigation it was revealed that all the SEO company did in return for her £1,500 was to list her business on a free directory.

The problem is that there’s often no way for companies to identify which are the rogue SEO companies and which are the genuine ones. As a quick test though, you’ll find the genuine companies already ranked very highly on Google themselves, whereas the rogue ones tend to have to email people directly because they don’t have enough traffic heading their way already, or they have to pay Google for a sponsored listing just to be found!

Have you ever used a rogue SEO company? What’s your experience with them? Leave a comment below and let us know.