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Are You Sure Your Search Engine Marketing Company Knows What It Is Doing?

May 27, 2008
These days it seems like anyone on the periphery of Internet marketing claims to offer search engine marketing services. Web site designers, ad agencies, programmers - they all claim to do it. Intuitively, it makes sense. The company that designed your web site should know how to promote it. The company that creates your advertising should know how to do online advertising.

But it just doesn't work that way.

Anyone can set up a paid search account. Therefore, anyone could technically claim they know how to manage a pay per click campaign. But there is a big difference between knowing how to set up an account and knowing how to maximize the profitability of that account. Before you hire a company to manage your pay per click account, ask the following questions:

1. Are you certified by the major search engines?
2. Do you do only search engine marketing or other things as well?
3. How many accounts have you managed?
4. Do you have some documentation showing success with other accounts?
5. How long have you been managing pay per click accounts?
6. Do you have any references?

Basically, just make sure to ask enough questions that you feel confident that the company is experienced and reliable. What you don't want is for your account to be managed by the guy who was passed the duty of doing it just because there was no one else available. You want your account to be managed by someone with a lot of experience who understands the mathematics behind maximizing paid search account performance. By the way, the certification question above is not really a good measure of a search engine marketer's worthiness. A search engine marketer can be uncertified and still be outstanding. But wouldn't you want the person managing your account to have taken the time to study the search engines' training material and passed their exams?

In the area of search engine optimization, many, many web site designers claim to optimize their clients' sites. Usually, this consists of adding meta tags. Anyone who knows anything about search engine optimization knows that meta tags are basically useless. I'm not saying you shouldn't use them. You should, but placing meta tags in your site code is just the beginning of a very long process. Don't be one of the ones disappointed because your expensive new web site doesn't rank well in search engines. Ask your designer about his experience with SEO. If you are not convinced that he really knows how to optimize a web site, then you should hire an SEO professional to help with the design and coding process.

Another thing that bothers me considerably is a search engine marketing company claiming to be able to get your site ranked on the front page of Google in a week's time. I have a feeling a lot of people have fallen for this scam. Look, any web site can rank at the top of Google for a keyword for which there is no competition. But you have to remember that the whole point of a search engine optimization campaign is NOT to get a high ranking - it is to drive targeted traffic. Even if you are number one, if no one is using that keyword to search for your services, you're not going to get any traffic. No respectable search engine optimization firm would make such an outlandish claim because they will realize that the goal is to generate rankings for keywords that actually deliver targeted traffic. Those keywords are usually going to have some competition.

My advice is to hire a firm that ONLY does search engine marketing. If you hire a firm that does other things as well, as some tough questions to make sure they really know what they are doing. You'd be surprised at how many don't.
About the Author
Jerry Work is president of Work Media, LLC, http://workmedia.net, a search engine optimization and pay per click firm based in Nashville.
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