I received an email this week from a customer that was considering using an online SEO (search engine optimization) agency that guaranteed first page Google results.

For those of you who aren’t web savvy, search engine optimization is the work you do as a company to be found on the left-hand side of Google search results (also called organic or natural results). These are the areas that Google feels are most relevant to the person’s search results. Any of the shaded results you see at the very top or to the right are paid by vendors (like advertising).

Before I go into the idea of guaranteeing online results, let me take you back about 20 years. In high school, I used to sell glasses at an eyeglass replacement store at our local mall. After selling a child, woman or man glasses, I would offer them our special “scratch proof resistant” package for $29.97. This special package enabled us to put a coating on each lens that would protect the glasses from scratching.

Little did the shoppers know that the coating was already on every pair of lenses we sold. It came standard. The whole “package” was a sham.

Guaranteeing Google Rankings Is a Sham

Any business owner wants the easiest and most effective route to online marketing success. The only problem is this: Success with search engine rankings and social media is hard, and it takes dedication and time to see results. There are no easy fixes.

Who wouldn’t want guaranteed results? I certainly would. Too bad they simply don’t exist.

Rand Fishkin from SEOMoz lays out five excellent reasons why guaranteeing search results are a really bad idea:

1. SEO and Guaranteed Results Have a Horrible History. Going back as far as 1996, Rand shows it simply doesn’t work.

2. Google Warns Against It. Even Google, one of the smartest companies in the world, expressly states that “No one can guarantee #1 placement in Google.”

3. Search Engine Results Are Unstable. First, every person, no matter where or who they are, receives different search engine ranking. Second, search engines like Google change their algorithms almost nightly. That means if a “quick fix” ever was found, Google would change their rankings almost immediately.

4. Rankings Are a Poor Measurement of Performance. Getting ranked #1 for a particular result does not mean you will get traffic. It also won’t mean that, if you receive traffic, anything will ever become of it. For example, I can write a blog post about “HVAC and Chicken Wings” and rank first almost immediately because it’s such a rare combination. Just because I rank for that, it doesn’t mean anything for my business unless I sell HVAC and Chicken Wings.

5. Guarantees Open Up Ethical Problems. If someone does promise you rankings or results in online marketing, they’ll most likely have to “break” the rules to make it happen. This most certainly will backfire against you. Once that happens, good luck getting Google to recognize you for any honest work in the future.

If you want real and lasting SEO results, create compelling content on a consistent basis that attract other, credible websites to link to that content. Talk about issues that keep your customers up at night. Make it easy for customers to share your content.

That’s how it’s done.

Joe Pulizzi is the CEO of SocialTract, the leading blogging service for HVACR contractors. Joe is also the founder of the Content Marketing Institute and co-author of Get Content Get Customers. Joe can be reached at joe@socialtract.com or on Twitter @juntajoe.