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Does Performance-Based SEO Work?

Wondering whether performance-based SEO works? sitecentre breaks down the different between performance based SEO and traditional SEO Agencies like our own.

Photo of Kristi Ray
Kristi Ray
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With the rise of SEO companies in the digital marketing industry offering the same SEO services, the pressure to stand out is high.

This is one of the reasons why the performance-based or pay-per-rank SEO model is gaining immense popularity. Most web owners are resorting to companies offering these services to gain immediate results.

While the entire concept seems beneficial, the question surrounding its authenticity and reliability remains. That’s why we’ve come forward with a comprehensive, informative guide on this SEO model.

Does Performance Based Seo Work

We’ll start by highlighting the basics of the model and then move to the answer, forming the basis of this article. Furthermore, we’ll discuss a few factors to help you find the best alternative to a pay-per-rank SEO strategy.

What Is Performance-Based SEO?

Let’s begin by understanding the basic concept of performance-based SEO; aka, pay-for-performance SEO. To put it simply, performance-based SEO is a payment model that allows you to pay for SEO only after achieving the desired results.

SEO agencies that offer pay-for-performance SEO services tend to focus more on setting goals to improve SEO rankings, traffic and overall revenue. You can pay for their services once you’ve reached the target numbers, KPIs and achieved the other expected metrics. So, it’s basically a win-win situation for online businesses - there’s no need for payment in case of poor performance and results.

The Seo Creative Process

However, even though this seems like one of the best SEO practices in the digital marketing industry, there are risks involved. After all, the entire concept is too good to be true!

Does Pay-For-Performance SEO Work?

Pay-for-performance SEO companies may sound good and beneficial in theory, but the model involves serious risks and consequences. Not saying that all SEO agencies are spam; however, it takes time for SEO marketing campaigns to emerge successfully and provide desired results.

Since performance-based SEO companies make their profits off the results, it’s highly unlikely for them to earn revenue instantly. It might take up to 12 months or more, depending on how your website performs on the SERPs.

As such, the agencies turn to “black hat” and other spam-oriented techniques like over-optimisation of content and exact-match anchor text. These techniques ensure a significant boost in rankings to achieve the metric as set out in the contract.

In turn, SEO companies earn their income, but eventually, Google will penalise the website in question. You might not even get to see your site at all on the search engine results page (SERP).

Long story short, pay-for-performance SEO may work initially. However, the final outcome will be detrimental to your website. Google may drop several keywords from the website or de-index the complete site.

Why Is Pay-For-Performance SEO A Bad Idea?

The services offered by these SEO companies are a complete rip-off, and it’s a bad idea to opt for them. Here are a few reasons why paying for these SEO services is a waste of money.

1. Poor Keyword Targeting

While performance-based SEO agencies claim to target the top four to five keywords, driving substantial traffic to your website, the reality is different. Instead, they choose mid or long-tail keywords that might easily rank but offer very little value to your site.

In fact, many companies rely on tactics that tend to deteriorate content quality for the quick boost of SEO rankings. With Google’s algorithms constantly evolving towards bringing sites offering the most valuable content to webs searchers, proper keyword optimisation is crucial to any marketing campaign.

How To Use Focus Keywords In Seo Infographic

2. Utilisation Of Traffic As A Success Metric

Pay-for-performance SEO agencies usually structure the success of a marketing campaign based on the increase of traffic on a website. It’s important to note that while traffic plays a part in a website’s SEO success, experience and conversion rates play the most vital roles. Most companies manipulate these numbers using fakes sources.

3. Using SEO Rankings As A Success Metric

There’s no doubt that the site’s SEO ranking is a relevant and important part of the data set that should be monitored and analysed closely. But only tracking rankings will not give you a complete idea of your overall return on investment (ROI).

In fact, your website SEO rankings are often considered the desired “results” by most PFP SEO firms. After all, they can be easily manipulated, after which, the negative impact on websites begin to set in.

4. Black Hat SEO Practices

As mentioned earlier, results-based SEO companies utilise unethical optimisation techniques to provide the desired performance-based results to the clients so that they can bill them. Keyword stuffing, comment spamming, poor quality backlinks, content spinning, and irrelevant directory submissions are a few of these tactics.

Black Hat Vs White Hat Seo Graphic

They violate Google’s search quality guidelines, and even though these practices seem to be delivering results, there’s a risk of penalisation in the future. Now, your website can recover from these penalties issued by Google, but the process will take time. And you’ll be losing a lot of valuable traffic.

5. Hidden Charges

Apart from the set-up cost, which itself is an investment, SEO agencies often charge a maintenance fee despite failing to ensure relevant results. As such, you’ll be paying them an additional cost for no return whatsoever.

6. Competitive Industry

There are very few slots for websites to rank high in Google’s search results pages. After all, the competition while running an SEO campaign is fierce. So, it’s obvious that pay-for-results SEO companies making big claims and promises are too good to be true.

Any PFP SEO agency making such claims to win the trust of clients are not to be trusted. There’s no way for them to prove that their services will ensure results in the long run. And they might just be making these false promises to attract clients.

7. SEO Rankings Aren’t Easily Achieved

PFP SEO companies claim that they can easily improve your website rankings. But it’s important to remember that building an SEO campaign takes time while achieving performance-based results can take up to 11 to 12 months, even longer. This is because search engines, for example, Google, has only limited spots on their first page.

Components Of Google Ranking Algorithm

You can’t expect results overnight; SEO experts will know that it takes time for their efforts, website audits, and baselines to work. Only after suitable recommendations and changes are made over time will you know if the digital marketing or SEO campaign was successful.

8. No Return On Investment (ROI) In The Long Run

Most PFP SEO agencies won’t admit it, but they usually focus on the short run. They don’t have long-term goals for your website. Instead, a performance-based SEO agency will more likely provide quick short-term results without putting any effort to generate a return on investment in the long run.

To achieve sustainable results, a smarter SEO strategy involving hard work is needed. The refined process will allow your website ranking to improve with time.

9. No On-Site Optimisation

Another important part of any SEO campaign is on-site optimisation. It helps improve your website rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs) of Google without the need for external link-building.

12 Important On Page Seo Factors

However, opting for an SEO results-based strategy will not add any value to your website. This is because pay-for-performance SEO companies rely mainly on external link-building. They don’t really focus on on-site optimisation.

10. Absence Of Partnership

A reliable SEO agency will act as a partner to you and your business, working together with a strategy towards the same goals. But pay-for-results SEO doesn’t comply with this practice.

An agency offering these services will want to rank your website with only a few keywords. As such, you won’t share similar goals, leading to a failure in achieving your business objectives.

11. Lack Of Focus On Content

The best way to make your website search-engine-friendly is by using the platform to produce high-quality and unique content relevant to trending search queries. But pay-per-rank SEO only focuses on keywords and links for quick results.

Can Pay-For-Performance SEO Be Risk-Free?

The pay-for-performance model in SEO can be risk-free if the SEO agency is competent and confident in providing long-term success. But now, with most marketing companies promising overnight success, the chances of finding a reliable agency are slim to none.

Even if you do, there’s no way to be sure of getting a return on investment in the long run. There’s always some risk involved. Reliable agencies only offer quick performance-based SEO services to websites, having the potential of achieving improved SEO rankings and traffic within a 2 or 3-month time frame.

Alternative To Performance-Based SEO

Here are a few things to keep in mind while opting for an alternative SEO strategy and agency.

1. Partnership Approach

Look for an SEO agency that’s interested in knowing about your goals and business, rather than the companies focused on using tactics to ensure quick rankings. While working with a company, it should feel like you’re in a partnership with someone who’s focused on achieving the success of your website on search engines and social media platforms.

Performance Based Seo Difference

2. Build A Transparent Relationship

Make sure you establish a relationship with an agency that’s transparent and upfront about its tactics, SEO strategy and pricing. It should also provide regular reports as and when the digital marketing campaign progresses to meet both your short and long-term goals.

3. Realistic Model

Remember that SEO is a long-term practice, requiring a decent amount of effort to build your site’s reputation and improve its ranking on Google or any other search engine. So, when it comes to opting for a strategy, choose an SEO agency that offers a realistic model to rely on. Refrain from companies promising first-page ranking within a month or so.

4. Comprehensive SEO Strategy

Consider opting for a comprehensive SEO strategy and not results-based SEO to improve the ranking of your web pages. A holistic approach is needed instead of just focusing on metrics and keywords. The best SEO agencies offer the following services.

  • Keyword and competitor research
  • Keyword and on-site optimisation
  • Detailed reports and SEO campaign monitoring
  • Improved user experience
  • Technical SEO services

Different Seo Factors Circle

Summing Up PFP SEO

Long story short, companies that have to be paid after your website ranks on Google SERPs may seem beneficial and appealing to online business owners at first. However, there’s always a risk of penalisation involved, and in the long run, it’s unlikely to work because of the unethical tactics they use to ensure quick rankings.

Keywords and links will definitely help your website rank higher on the SERPs, but only in the short term. Once initial results are delivered and the payment is made, there’s hardly ever a follow-up done. You might even have to pay additional charges without a guarantee of ROI.

So, it’s better to contact SEO experts when it comes to any SEO-based project. Keep in mind that an agency promising instant results is a sign that it’s a rip-off.

On that note, we’ll sign off now!


Photo of Kristi Ray

Kristi Ray

Kristi is head of content production and editing at sitecentre and joined the team in early 2021 based out of our Sunshine Coast office to deliver higher-quality content to our partners. Kristi has a vast knowledge of copywriting styles and experience to accelerate the production of SEO friendly content at the highest levels.

Find them on their website: sitecentre and LinkedIn.

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