Tips on Selecting an SEM/SEO Agency

8/25/2008

- Danielle Leitch, EVP Client Strategy

It can become a challenging situation for those marketers not familiar with Search Engine Marketing & Website Optimization to accurately interview and select the best agency to outsource their online advertising and site optimization program.

Actually, what determines the “best” agency? Is it:

  • Years in business
  • Experience of staff
  • Agency credentials/certifications
  • Number of clients
  • Technology and software
  • Client service & support
  • Geographic proximity to you

The answer is possibly a combination of all of the above, based upon each individual company and their needs. It is crucial that your company outline its needs and desired goals and effectively communicate these to each agency in consideration. This may help to quickly reduce your initial list of vendors, which could be further reduced later through client referrals and feedback.

In addition to the above points, which may or may not be important for your company, some additional considerations during the Agency selection process are as follows:

  • How are results and success measured?
    This is an applicable question for both SEM and SEO. Analytics should certainly be figured into the answer for both tactics, particularly with SEM to effectively monitor ROI.
  • How will we be informed of the success/progress of our campaigns?
    This should be a transparent process, relative to the answers provided to the first question. Communication and data sharing are critical and need to work in both directions (client to agency and vice versa). Standardized reporting is common, but look for some flexibility in case your needs deviate from the agency’s standards. This could mean frequency of reporting, as well as data or options included on reports.
  • What methodology do you follow for SEO?
    Although this is an open ended question, it is important. Following “Best Practices” is a must, as is a methodical approach. There should be discussion of creating a unique strategy based on your specific goals, objectives, obstacles or website challenges. It is hard to ensure success with a one size fits all approach in SEO, given the many factors that influence it. Companies providing guarantees or unrealistic/unheard of results should be scrutinized very closely.
  • Do you use technology or humans to manage CPC accounts?
    The answer should be a blend of both for optimal effectiveness. Manually managing campaigns can be acceptable if it is a small agency with a low client to staff ratio and the campaign size or ad budget is very small. For most mid sized or larger advertisers, there should be some internal or third party tools being utilized for maximum efficiency in the campaigns, for testing, analysis and bid adjustments.

The best advice is to become an informed consumer when interviewing and selecting an agency to outsource your online advertising efforts.MoreVisibility is committed to educating advertisers on our industry and provides a number of resources within our Knowledge Center to do so. If I can be of assistance at any time, please let me know.

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