The internet has transformed marketing, but you should still be skeptical about miracles. There is no guarantee of overnight success.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Here’s a look at the nine biggest lies and half-truths the best marketing companies will not promise you.

1. “We’ll guarantee to get you on the first page of Google.”
This is the most ridiculous claim to hear from marketers, and yet companies continue to make it almost routinely. Nobody can guarantee #1 placement on Google because that placement is in the hands of the biggest search engine itself. Google has dealt with this claim in no uncertain terms. It states, “Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a ‘special relationship’ with Google, or advertise a ‘priority submit’ to Google. There are no priority submits for Google.”

2. “We will only send you high-quality leads.”
Like getting you on the first page of Google, it’s almost impossible to quantify. There is no independent definition of what constitutes a “high-quality lead” unless you outline it for your business. However, if the marketing firm asks you to first describe the quality of leads you want and then points to examples of past clients and the method…that’s a good sign.

4. “You don’t have to do anything. We’ll do it all.”
This sort of promise is meant to appeal to busy small business owners who may not care to know too much about what they are doing online. It’s always a mistake to cede control of your online business to someone else. You may lose track of what you are being charged for and you may also lose direction over your web presence. Your online presence is the equivalent of your shop window a decade ago. You need to retain control and not let a marketing company hijack your operation.

5. “You will be privy to secret and undisclosed strategies.”
Internet marketers sometimes like to mystically mention the secret sauce. They have a hidden ingredient or proprietary tool, but they can’t tell you what it is. Any legitimate company should be able to explain exactly what they will do to your site, as well as detailing their link building strategy.

6. “This is an amazing deal for you, and I don’t mind that it puts me in a tough place.”
The martyr strategy is a tried and tested means to an end. This is such a great deal that the marketers won’t be able to feed their kids for a couple of weeks, but it’s worth it for your overall gain? Clearly, it’s just another ploy to make you think they are bending over backwards.

7. “This is a limited time offer. You need to act now.”
The limited time offer strategy is intended to put pressure on you to make a quick decision before you can give it much thought. If you gave it more thought, it might occur to you that limited time offers make little sense. Marketing deals aren’t like the last bottles of water before a hurricane. If you approached the same firm at a later date, a “deal” would likely still be available.

8. “We work with someone at Google.” or “We partner with Google.”
With Google accounting for about 68 percent of search engine market share, it’s easy to see why marketers would want to claim affiliation. However, this is a plain untruth. Google has no partnerships in the marketing world and no Google employee would jeopardize their jobs by illegally associating with any such firms.

9. “You don’t have to worry—we’ll take ownership of your content.”
If you think this kind of arrangement is positive because it will take a burden off you, think again. Any agreement you sign should not give content ownership to the agency you work with. If things go badly, the company can hold you hostage or the content could even be sold to a competitor.

We hope these tips will alert you to some red flags. The mere fact that marketing companies talk a good game and use a lot of technical terms doesn’t mean they will be beneficial to your business. Do your research and be skeptical about all those big promises until you have concrete evidence otherwise.

By Victor Clarke